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With needs filled, Broncos turn to draft possibilities

ORLANDO, Fla. --Before President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and Head Coach Vance Joseph arrived in Orlando for the NFL Annual League Meeting, they made sure they left behind a lineup without a glaring hole that needs to be filled with immediate draft help.

This leaves the Broncos with myriad options -- not only with the No. 5 overall pick, but throughout the rest of the draft. It gives them the flexibility to continue to make deals like the one that netted offensive tackle Jared Veldheer for a sixth-round pick.

It also allows the Broncos to keep the world guessing as to what they will do.

"It's funny how everyone thinks into what we're taking. I don't know what we're taking yet," Elway said. "I think we still have to do all our homework and ultimately look at all the different decisions that could come up, whether it be a trade back or a possible trade up, and kind of look at all those and just see what falls. Plus, you go through all those scenarios -- that if this happens we'll do that, and if that happens we'll do this.

"By the time we get to the draft, we'll have a good plan in place."

This week helped set the foundation for the Broncos to go into the draft with options, as they signed defensive end Clinton McDonald and traded for right tackle Veldheer. Both are expected to stabilize their positions. But both also bring leadership, having served as team captains with the Buccaneers and Cardinals, respectively.

"I think John understands that we have to add more experienced guys who are going to do it the right way," Joseph said. "The best teams win, so we're trying to build a football team that we can compete with every Sunday, but also have guys that can help lead us.

"That was a void [last] year that we had in our locker room."

Both also filled specific on-field needs.

"Clinton's a guy that we like, because we feel like he can add some pass rush inside, which we need," Elway said. "We think that he adds that depth, plus that pass rush inside.

"Jared, obviously, is going to come in and play right tackle for us. It's been a hole for us. He's had a great eight-year career ... he's a vet that's got a lot of experience. We expect him to plug that hole for a little bit."

With the first two waves of free agency complete, this week's meeting allows Elway the chance to have face-to-face conversations with other general managers. Some of those chats could lay the groundwork for possible trades near the draft.

"There'll be some conversation here to get a feel for what some people want to do, so it's a good time to get caught up," Elway said. "Obviously, we're in meetings a lot, so not a whole lot of time, but there'll be a couple of meetings that I have, too."

When Elway and Joseph return to Denver, the focus turns squarely to the draft. Joseph said the Broncos are still in the "research" portion of their work, which involves having scouts and other representatives of the team's football-operations department at many Pro Days around the country.

What they do know is that they have a draft that is deep at some key positions -- starting with quarterback.

"There's a lot of defensive backs, and there's some good wide receivers and running backs, it's a deep class of running backs, and obviously, it's a deep quarterback draft, too," Elway said. "There'll be a lot of good football players available for us."

And with six picks in the first 109 selections, the Broncos have plenty of opportunities and draft capital, giving them a slew of paths to a productive draft.

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