ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **Movement defines the business of sports but that doesn't make it any easier when tough decisions must be made, especially when emotional ties are involved.
When Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway made the move to trade up to the 23rd overall pick from No. 28, he'd have to deliver the news to offensive lineman Manny Ramirez that he'd be going to the Lions as part of a deal that includes two fifth-round picks (one in 2015 and 2016), in addition to swapping spots in the first round thi syear .
"That was one of the hardest phone calls that I've ever had to make," Elway said. "It was one of the most difficult conversations I've ever had because of what kind of man Manny Ramirez is and what he's done for this team the last [four] years that he's been here. Just a tremendous person, and he has done everything in the community that the team's ever asked him to do and he's volunteered. He's just a tremendous man. He's been a tremendous football player for us."
The trade offers Ramirez a return to where his career began, having been drafted by the Lions in 2007 in the fourth round, but Ramirez had found a revival in Denver following four tough years in Detroit in which the Lions went 15-49. Ramirez went on to sign with Denver, starting in 43 of 47 games that he appeared in, and in four playoff games. Now he returns to Detroit to a different team that's made the playoffs in two of the last four years.
However, the trade allowed the Broncos to guarantee a spot to draft a player they had highly rated in outside linebacker Shane Ray.
"We thought it was too good to be true that he was still there," Elway added. "Then we looked at our board after he was gone and it was like, 'OK, where are we going to go if we don't get Shane?' I really like the deal that we're getting with the currency that we had, with the picks that we had. As I said, other than giving up Manny, we gave up a fifth this year and a fifth next year. We really just thought we couldn't wait for him because he was too high on our board. We took advantage of that."
That bargain was a big one based on where Elway and the front office had Ray on their draft board. Elway said Ray was 10th and the chance of Ray sliding five more spots to 28th was too big of a risk for them given the reward they saw.
That's a reward Ray sees, too, and he thinks his slide will make him quite the find at the position the Broncos drafted him.
See photos from new Bronco Shane Ray's football career leading up to being selected 23rd overall.
"I find myself as a steal," Ray said. "All the teams that passed on me that were in the top 10, I feel like they made a huge mistake. And as a Denver Bronco, I plan to show them about the mistake they made. Like I said, I'm so grateful to the Denver Broncos for giving me the opportunity, and I can't wait to learn from guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and just be a force."
While Ray's overwhelming top talent is seen as his pass-rushing abilities, he thinks concentrating on that is more narrow than his skill set deserves.
"I think everyone who thinks I'm a one-trick pony should go back and watch some more film," Ray said. "I'm more than capable of doing everything that the Broncos require of me, especially in the run game, more so in the pass game. There are things I can improve at. I don't have any issue dropping into coverage. There's no question about that at all. I think I'm more than capable of doing anything that the Broncos ask for me to do, including being the best pass-rusher in this draft."