Ed Andrieski, Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos infused some much-needed youth into their defensive backfield. They still have a gaping hole on the defensive line.
The Broncos selected AP All-America safety Quinton Carter of Oklahoma in the fourth round Saturday, one day after grabbing safety Rahim Moore of UCLA in the second round.
Both said they count Broncos safety Brian Dawkins as their hero and look forward to learning from him. But they might ultimately speed the end of Dawkins' career. One of four thirtysomething starters in Denver's secondary, Dawkins will be 38 next season and is coming off an injury-riddled 2010.
The Broncos didn't address their biggest need — defensive tackle — in the first six rounds.
They did take a chance in the fourth round on tight end Julius Thomas of Portland State, a raw player who is hoping to join Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham in making a successful jump from the hardwood to the gridiron. Thomas played just one year of football after completing four seasons of basketball.
Denver, which swapped a pair of picks with Green Bay, grabbed versatile Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed in the sixth round. They also own two seventh-rounders.
The Broncos went into their first draft with the new front office trio of football chief John Elway, coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders in need of a major makeover on defense, and they took four defensive players with their first five picks, including pass-rusher Von Miller of Texas A&M and middle linebacker Nate Irving, who survived a horrific car accident that cost him his 2009 season at N.C. State.
Their biggest hole was at tackle after ranking 31st in the league against the run last season, surrendering a whopping 155 yards a game on the ground. And this draft was especially deep on defensive tackles.
Elway said he wanted to build the foundation of the team through the draft, but after bypassing the top-rated D-tackle in Alabama's Marcell Dareus with the second overall pick, Fox said the Broncos wouldn't be pressured into selecting a run-stuffer from the college pool this weekend.
"We will have, at some point, another clump of players to choose from in free agency," he said, adding, "We won't take a guy we have graded in the fifth round in the second just because he is a defensive tackle."
When the Broncos traded down in the second round, they lost out on the chance to get Clemson's Jarvis Jenkins but run-stuffers Stephen Paea and Marvin Austin were still available when they were on the clock with Nos. 45 and 46 and instead chose Moore and Miami offensive lineman Orlando Franklin.
The Broncos' incumbents in their defensive backfield are Dawkins and Renaldo Hill at safety and Champ Bailey and Andre' Goodman at cornerback. All are 32 years old except for Dawkins, who is 37.
Cornerback Perrish Cox showed immense promise as a rookie last year. But he's facing a sexual assault case that could land him in jail.
Carter said he was surprised the Broncos selected him after picking Moore a day earlier.
"Honestly, yes, very surprised," he said. "... I'm sure we'll have a great future, a strong backfield and also learn from Brian Dawkins, who is my favorite safety in the game."
That's just what Moore said, adding he's also a big fan of Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey.
"These guys are my favorite DBs ever. You know, I even have a picture of them on my phone and my laptop," said Moore, who called Dawkins right after his selection. "I'm a huge fan. I just can't wait to get hooked up with them and get to work."
When that happens is anybody's guess.
The NFL reinstated its lockout Friday night after its first legal victory during the impasse with players over how to divvy up the proceeds of a $9 billion business.
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