I wanted to get back to some deep draft talk for today’s war story, so I called Cal McCombs, who runs the personnel side for the Charleston, SC-based Medal of Honor Bowl. The MOH Bowl is entering its third year, and Cal and his team have done an excellent job of finding late-round talent.
Cal was with the Broncos from 2007-11 as an area scout, and in 2010, the team drafted nine players. All but two of them are still active in the league, and two of them, Broncos WO Demaryius Thomas and Jets WO Eric Decker, are bona fide stars in the league. That’s a bonanza, one of the better drafts in the last decade, and has set the team up for perennial playoff runs.
Cal shared a few of his recollections from that draft with me this morning, and I thought I’d pass them along.
Thomas (taken in the first round, 22nd overall): Cal said the team took Thomas as a pure need pick in the wake of having traded WO Brandon Marshall two weeks before the draft. “We already had the QB, Kyle Orton, that we had received (in the trade of Jay Cutler to the Bears), so we had a proven QB, but the receiver corps at that time was not real strong. You take Brandon Marshall out of there, and now you don’t have the big guy that can take the ball away from somebody. I think the logic behind (the pick) was that you take a big strong receiver (Thomas is 6-3, 229) that can run (4.38 speed), and that’s a powerful combination.”
Cal said the team’s scouts knew about Thomas’ tools, but what cemented the pick was his attitude. “The thing I loved about him was that here’s a guy who had been one of the top(-rated receivers in the draft), and watching him on film, he may have been the best blocking receiver I had ever seen. My thoughts were not that that’s going to be a big thing in the pros, but to me, it showed me that this kid is really an unselfish kid. For him to go through his senior year and not complain about not having the ball thrown to him, and going out there and doing what (Georgia Tech head coach) Paul (Johnson) told him to do (was impressive).”
QB Tim Tebow (1/25): Cal said the team had no illusions about the offense Tebow had played in at Florida or his delivery. Still, his toughness and winning attitude were endearing. “(New head coach) Josh (McDaniels) felt he could help his accuracy and delivery. Taking Tebow would make a splash, and he had to do something to put the Cutler thing to rest. That’s totally speculation, but the guy who made the final decision on Cutler was Josh.”
Cal said he gave Tebow his full endorsement. “I wanted to take him, but a lot of the other guys didn’t. They didn’t see him as the ‘stereotype’ kind of quarterback.” Cal is still a believer: “I look at it this way, and this is just an old scout talking about it, but you have 32 teams carrying three quarterbacks, and you can’t tell me Tebow isn’t one of the top hundred quarterbacks out there right now.”
WO Eric Decker (3/87): Cal said not everyone was sold on the Minnesota pass-catcher, mainly because many scouts were still sore from passing on Ole Miss WO Mike Wallace in the second round the year before. Many in the war room still felt the team needed a deep threat. “He could catch anything, but he wasn’t the fastest guy in the world, and he didn’t give you the top speed. (In the 2009 draft), there was the kid at Ole Miss, Wallace, that could fly, and we hadn’t taken him in the second round that year (despite having three second-round picks), and (the Steelers) had taken him in the third round. He was everything they wanted him to be. (So in 2010,) we didn’t have anybody that could take the top off the defense. We had (WO Eddie) Royal, who was a good slot guy, but not anybody that could just blow by people.”