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The best moments from Behind the Broncos | No Shortcuts (Ep. 4): An unprecedented look at pre-draft discussions

The moment we've been waiting for has arrived.

On Tuesday's episode of "Behind the Broncos: No Shortcuts," we got an unprecedented look into the Broncos' war room for both the team's pre-draft evaluations and the draft night excitement.

In the 20-minute episode, Broncos fans get a look at General Manager George Paton's first draft and how he pieced together the top three picks.

Read on for a look at our favorite moments:


After the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Paton revealed that Surtain was the team's top defensive player on the board and that it would've taken "a haul" to get the team to move off the No. 9 selection.

After seeing the team's pre-draft meeting about Surtain, it's easy to tell why the team felt so good about the former SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

"Down the field, he can judge the ball, and you never see him startled or out of control or grabbing," Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell said. "He can judge the ball deep and win downfield. To me, he's just so clean. If we needed this guy to start Day 1, he could, because he can see across the field. That's what's different. The amount of crossing routes and there's passing going on, this guy can see."

Southeast area scout Frantzy Jourdain praised Surtain's work ethic, saying he "loves ball — practices it, lives it, breathes it eats it."

Director of Player Personnel Darren Mougey, meanwhile, said Surtain was the most "NFL-ready" player and that he was "always under control" and "never panicked" while at Alabama.

Director of College Scouting Brian Stark traveled to Tuscaloosa for Surtain's pro day and gave him a high grade for his performance.

"He's one of those guys whose workout made you feel really good about what you saw on film," Stark said.

Paton's interest in Surtain was so strong that he made sure to not give other teams an inkling of what the Broncos might do on draft night.

"Teams didn't really know where we were going, and I wanted to keep it that way," Paton said. "So I did not talk to Patrick, I told our coaches not to talk to him. I don't think many people knew we were going to take him."

On draft night, though, there was no doubt.

"This is the safest player in the draft right here," Paton said.

And when you get a player like that, it spurs a celebration.

"When you get a player you've coveted for so long, yes, there's a big energy in the building and there's excitement and there's hi-fives," Paton said. "It's kind of like winning a football game."

Surtain, to his credit, knows the work is not done.

"When I seen that area code, a lot of emotions running through," Surtain said on the plane on the way to Denver. "I was very excited. I knew it was going to be around the range — 7 through 10. So I expected my name to be called, but at the moment it was an exciting feeling to share with my family. Of course, [it's] just been a long life dream of mine to complete. I've accomplished one of my goals, but this is just the beginning. I've still got more goals to complete."


When Paton first heard scouts talk about running back Javonte Williams, he hadn't yet seen the bruising UNC player. When he had the chance to study Williams' impressive film, it didn't take long for him to prioritize Williams in the draft.

"You hear the reverence our scouts had for this player, and then when I sat down one night and watched every game, every carry, every catch, every pass protection, he blows you away as a player on tape," Paton said. "If he was in striking distance, we were going to try to go get him."

The rest of the Broncos' staff agreed in pre-draft meetings, as several evaluators said they thought he was a better player than eventual first-round picks Najee Harris and Travis Etienne.

"I think he's the best overall back in the draft," Running Backs Coach Curtis Modkins said. "Has a really good skill set. He can elude in tight spaces, stop [and] start, really good short-area burst. He's good in pass protection, too, which stands out. He's really good in pass pro. Great kid to talk to, easy to talk to. He's as good as it gets in that area."

Stark agreed, and he compared him to both Nick Chubb and Ezekiel Elliott.

"He doesn't just run to daylight," Stark said. "He'll run to bodies inside. He'll press bodies inside. He can run to space and get vertical inside. Collision balance is really good. I comped him to Chubb. I comped him to 'Zeke' a little bit too. I think he has that same kind of body lean and can bounce off guys and weave off of contact, do some different things. I think this guy's a really good player. I think he's the No. 1 running back."

Paton said later that he wanted to build on an existing strength, with Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone already in the room. Modkins believes that adding Williams will do just that.

"My gut instinct is the kid's going to be a really, really good player for us," Modkins said.


When Paton got on the phone with third-round pick Quinn Meinerz, the Wisconsin-Whitewater product was fired up.

"I'm ready to pound the f** rock," Meinerz said into the phone on draft night.

Paton, who would soon see highlights of Meinerz blocking trees, was instantly entertained.

"He threw an F-bomb there," Paton told the rest of the war room. "I like it."

Meinerz is more than just a tree-pushing, belly-displaying prospect, though. Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak credited Meinerz for the effort it took to get to the Senior Bowl, and Paton said the Division III player was the most physical player during the college all-star game

"This kid loves ball," Paton said. "You can see it. That's his life. He loves football, and I've said since I walked in the door, we want players here who love the game. It's hard to be good in this game unless you love it. This guy loves it. He breathes it. So he's going to fit in well."

Meinerz, though, may have to get used to a few more breaks on game day.

"I'm not used to TV timeouts," he said. "The only time we have TV timeouts is when we're in the playoffs on like ESPN3."

In Denver, that'll be a little bit different.


The final minutes of the episode show Surtain, Williams and Meinerz alongside the other seven draft picks at rookie minicamp as they began their NFL journeys. And at this point, draft position doesn't much matter.

"It does not matter to me where you're drafted," Modkins said. "When you're here, you're a Bronco. And there's a standard and a culture in the room that we expect them to maintain."

Added Munchak: "You can't control a lot of factors, so don't worry about things you don't control. Don't worry about how you got here, because you're in the building. You earned a seat. You earned the right to be here. It's all about attitude, about how you're going to handle what you're presented with. I think that's what separates football teams a lot. Talent is talent, but having the attitude, the attitude is what I think makes the difference."

Paton and the rest of the Broncos know the work is just beginning.

"It's just a start," Paton said. "Getting these players in, they're not all going to make it unfortunately. You're not going to hit on every one. But it's just the start. This draft class hopefully adds to our foundation and will build us and sustain a winning culture and a winning football team."

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