Is Maryland tight end big in Broncos' plans?


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Jan 22, 2006
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Is Maryland tight end big in Broncos' plans?
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post NFL, Broncos Beat Reporter

As the draft hot stove heats up, speculation making the national rounds is the Broncos will package their No. 15 and No. 22 picks in the first round to move up to No. 5 (Green Bay) or No. 6 (San Francisco) to take Maryland tight end Vernon Davis, whose football ability, size and speed make him an off-the-charts NFL prospect.

Davis is not likely to be on the board past the seventh pick. San Francisco and Oakland (the Raiders pick seventh) like him. Interest from Denver makes sense, because the Broncos need a tight end and a playmaker. Davis qualifies as both.

But there are reasons Denver might not want to trade up that high. The Broncos might not want to pay a player as much as a top-five pick would earn. Denver likely would rather spread its money between two first- round picks.

Some teams believe a tight end, no matter how highly rated, is not worth a top-five pick. Denver probably would rather take a player like Davis in the No. 8 to No. 10 range.

What to do with Lelie

The player hotly rumored to be on his way out of town is Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie. His name has been mentioned in San Francisco and Green Bay. It's all just talk, of course.

It's unclear if there is any connection between this talk and Lelie's decision to skip the first week of the Broncos' offseason workout program to work out on his own in Arizona.

In any case, there is a good chance Lelie will leave Denver after this season as a free agent.

Perhaps Denver should consider trading him. The Broncos are likely to add a starting-caliber receiver, most likely via the draft. Florida's Chad Jackson and Ohio State's Santonio Holmes are the top candidates likely to be available with the No. 15 pick. Denver also could rekindle trade talk with the Packers for Javon Walker. If Green Bay trades Walker, it will be near or during the draft.

It wouldn't be surprising if Denver makes another run at Walker and offers Lelie in a package to the Packers - who, with or without Walker, need wideouts. Lelie is a great deep threat, but he doesn't seem to fit Denver's system.

If no receiver is brought in, Lelie will be part of Denver's plans this year. But if a receiver is brought in, Lelie's absence from the offseason workouts might be the beginning of the end of his stay in Denver.

Is McNair out?

Tennessee is expected to take a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. That could mean the end of former NFL MVP Steve McNair's time with the Titans.

McNair might be released for salary cap reasons. McNair may welcome that, especially if the Titans select a quarterback in the draft and start him as a rookie.

There could be a market for McNair. A likely landing place could be Baltimore, where he likely would be the starter.

The Broncos also could be a possibility if McNair is interested in being a backup. McNair flourished under Mike Heimer- dinger, now the Broncos' assistant head coach, in Tennessee.

America's team

Don't get too worked up over the notion the Broncos will be the most-watched NFL team in 2006. Reports that Denver will have 12 nationally televised games this season are a tad misleading. The Broncos have four prime-time games on national television.

There are eight other possibilities as part of national doubleheaders, and each has a chance to be a nationally televised game. If the Broncos are gangbusters, several of these games will be televised. The total number likely will be closer to 12. Denver was on national television for half its 16 regular-season games last season.

It's no surprise Denver has a chance to have 75 percent of its games on national television. The Broncos are consistently competitive, they have a large fan base and they have a competitive schedule. Games against Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Seattle will have national appeal.
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