(DENVER) — Upstairs on the second floor of the Broncos' Dove Valley headquarters, the team's highest-ranking officials will spend the final days before the draft not unlike many of the most die-hard NFL fans.
Broncos executives John Elway, Brian Xanders, John Fox, Matt Russell and others will create mock draft after mock draft, trying to figure out which teams will draft which players at which slot when the NFL draft begins Thursday. Denver has the No. 25 pick in the first round.
The Broncos, who finalized their draft board Friday, completed their first mock draft Monday morning. Elway said the team's mock drafts will go through the first two or three rounds.
"What we can do is compare different people, so if this guy is to fall at that slot and he's there, then we'll take that guy. If not, we've got these three guys left and we'll compare them and talk about each one of them. By the time we get to the draft, and No. 25 comes around, we pretty much have covered all our bases as far as comparing different players and situations that we might take at 25," Elway said. "What's so amazing is that everybody has different opinions on players, so the draft board never falls the way you think it's going to fall. One pick can throw everything out of whack, so that's the reason we do these mocks."
Among the possibilities the Broncos are considering is trading back, should a team want to move into Denver's spot. Elway said the Broncos have not received any calls about first-round trades.
"We're open," Elway said. "We're fine there, but we're always open to go either way."
Elway said the preparation for this draft is different from his first draft as the team's executive vice president a year ago, when the Broncos held the No. 2 pick and had their pick of defensive players. They ultimately chose linebacker Von Miller , who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Elway described this draft, particularly the first round, as a fluid situation in which it is hard to predict which of the Broncos' targets will be available late Thursday evening.
"The bottom line is we're going to take the best player on the board at that point in time," Elway said. "I don't want to get into what our needs are. We'll let other people figure that out. Obviously going into the draft it's important that other people are guessing where you're going to go."
A popular outside opinion is that the Broncos could take a defensive tackle with their top pick, both because of a perceived need at the position as well as strong crop of defensive tackle prospects. Elway said the team took a hit at the position this offseason when starter Brodrick Bunkley signed a free-agent contract with New Orleans, but said the team feels good about the return of veterans Ty Warren and Kevin Vickerson, both of whom missed all or most of last season with injuries.
"We don't feel as bad about our tackles as everybody else does. We feel OK there," Elway said. "It's not nearly the need in our minds that people think it is."
The Broncos are also likely targeting running backs, cornerbacks, quarterbacks, safeties, linebackers and interior offensive linemen.
"You can look at every position and say, 'OK, they probably have a need there,' " Elway said.
The Broncos are a far different team this week leading up to the draft than they were when the 2011 season ended in the divisional playoffs at New England. Denver has a new quarterback (Peyton Manning) and a new defensive coordinator (Jack Del Rio). Both of those moves will affect the Broncos' draft plan this week.
"If you look at where we were and where we are, the offensive mind-set is a little different than it was. So that's obviously going to change the type of players we're looking at," Elway said. "Defensively, nothing has changed other than getting to know Jack Del Rio and the type of players he likes and the type of style he's going to play defensively. It really comes down to the style on both sides."