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On Tuesday morning, at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Broncos’ head coach Vic Fangio had the longest media session of his career as Denver’s head coach.
Yet instead of divulging everything he possibly knows about his new team, Fangio dove deep on two important topics.
Fortunately, those two topics happened to be the hottest topics in Denver of recent—the Broncos’ situation in the draft at quarterback and inside linebacker.
Here’s what Fangio divulged about both.
First things first, the Broncos believe there’s “a lot left” with Joe Flacco, Fangio emphasized on Tuesday.
Saying that, however, Denver’s certainly doing their homework on the top quarterbacks in the draft. The team will host Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones on official top-30 visits.
“Some guys you’re bringing in just to get a little better feel for. Some guys you’re bringing in [because] you feel like you have a lot of questions you want to ask and get answered,” Fangio said, explaining why the Broncos are hosting all of the first-round graded quarterbacks. “Some of those guys you’re just bringing in as a smokescreen.
“I wouldn’t get too enamored with who we are bringing in or who the 31 other teams are bringing in. It could mean something. It might not mean something. I think guys that try and read the tea leaves of the draft drive themselves crazy.”
Fangio said he hasn’t done a lot of studying on any of the quarterbacks yet, but admitted he will dive into them once he gets back from Arizona.
“Now I get to evaluate quarterbacks, and I won’t make the mistake some of you offensive coaches have made over the years,” Fangio said he told his coaches with a laugh, while also revealing he’ll be part of the process of evaluating offensive players, specifically QBs.
The most interesting, and telling, part of Vic’s comments about this topic was when he talked about how quarterbacks don’t need to fit a certain mold to be successful.
“Good quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes and styles and personalities, as you guys know from covering the league,” Fangio stated. “Looking for a guy that can produce.
“Obviously, he’s got to have some type of minimum arm strength. He’s got to have some type of minimum athletic ability. He’s got to have leadership intangibles. He’s got to be an accurate passer. Can he throw from the pocket under duress? Does he have escapability? Guys make it work all different ways. Does their skillset fit what you want to do or can you adapt to what they do well and do you have the guys on hand to play that adaptive system?
Fangio’s statement was interesting, of course, because of Elway’s comments at the Combine stating how shorter quarterbacks have a much more difficult time having sustained success under center. The Broncos, under Rich Scangarello, will have an emphasis on playing under center.
The natural question that arises because of all of this is how could Kyler Murray fit in Denver?
“He’s a special athlete. Dynamic player. Fast. Elusive. Can throw, this guy can throw, obviously. That jumps out at you easily from TV scouting,” Fangio said, admitting he’s only watched him on TV. “I think he’s going to be a good player in this league. He’ll be a success as a quarterback.”
FIRST-ROUND INSIDE LINEBACKERS
Inside linebacker’s Devin White and Devin Bush may be the two hottest names connected to the Broncos with their No. 10 overall pick.
With Fangio’s superb linebacker player in the past, coupled with he and the Bears drafting inside backer Roquan Smith last year at No. 8 overall, there’s plenty of reason to draw a connection to the Broncos selecting either player in the first round.
“I don’t think either one is as good as Roquan [Smith] at this stage in their career,” Fangio said, making the draft world rethink Denver going after either White or Bush.
“Roquan is a special player. And a special individual. It’s going to take a while for me to see that in those other two guys.”
When asked to expound on his thoughts on White—a player many believe could be drafted in the top five—Fangio simply said, “I think he’s a guy that can stay on the field and play all situations.”
“The NFL has changed so much in the last few years,” Fangio stated, explaining how his Bears’ defense faced three or more receivers for 80 percent of the plays last year. “The thought process that a guy is a first and second down player and not a third down player—you’re defending third-down stuff on first and second down, too. I think that’s a thing of the past to say a guy is a one-down player, a two-down player. I don’t like to look at things that way anymore.”
Denver’s current starting inside backers, Todd Davis and Josey Jewell, have never been viewed as the fastest linebackers, but Fangio said he doesn’t believe either of them is missing a must-have skill that’s needed in his new defensive scheme.
“I like those guys, what little I’ve seen of them. And I haven’t seen a lot,” Fangio said. “I like those guys.”
One of the main reasons there’s been such a connection with the Broncos drafting a linebacker in the early rounds dates back to the Combine when Fangio stated: “We need to add to that group… I’de like to see us add a player or two there to be competitive.”
On Tuesday, he added his standard is “high” when it comes to linebackers, nudging to his recent history with Roquan Smith.
If, however, Denver doesn’t add speed at linebacker in the draft, Fangio said it’s not the end of the world, pointing to the success he had with NaVorro Bowman in San Francisco.
“NaVorro Bowman was a 4.7 linebacker when he came out, but he had great instincts,” Fangio said. “Maybe we’ll be playing with players like that.”
“A great carpenter doesn’t blame his tools, he just figures it out.”
- On Tuesday, Fangio said he surprised Elway by how little of the 2018 Broncos tape he’s watched, admitting he’s seen “under 150 plays.” The reason is he only wants to evaluate his new players in his own system on the field. The only players he’s watched on tape were the ones he and the organization already had to make a decision on.
- It was made clear on Tuesday that Fangio’s defense won’t be based on anything from last year. One of the shakeups could be Bradley Chubb being used more on the defensive line, along with outside backer.
- “I’m interested to see how much we can move him around,” Fangio said, adding “it’s a possibility” to have Von Miller and Chubb rush from the same side.
- Mike Munchak has already been a “tremendous resource” and asset for Fangio and the team. Fangio openly stated that Munchak’s family had a significantly bigger role in bringing him to the Broncos than the actual organization did.
- “Mike’s daughter lives in Denver, and so I think I can say it was 80 percent his daughter got him to come to Denver and 20 percent we got him to come to the Broncos,” Fangio said. “We’re thrilled to have Mike.”
- The Broncos haven’t ironed out the final details of their travel plans to and from the Hall of Fame Game, but Fangio said there will be some presence of the current team at the induction ceremony for Pat Bowlen and Champ Bailey. There have been talks of the entire team staying.