Draft Strategy: Take the Best Player Available — or Pick for Need?

John Elway

John Elway speaks at a press conference Wednesday. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Best player available? Or drafting to a specific need?

It’s a combination of both, executive vice president John Elway told fans during the first of multiple conference calls arranged between Broncos and NFL officials and over 7,000 season-ticket holders.

“What I’ve learned is that you pick best player available at a of position of need,” Elway said on the call.

“A lot of times if a player is taken that’s not at a position of need, that team may feel he was heads above the next player at a position of need,” he added. “You have to look hard at that.”

With free agency delayed indefinitely because of the labor impasse between the NFL and its players association, the Broncos have the freedom to pick the best player available. This is not only because their needs are so widespread, but because they don’t know what rules free agency will incorporate this year — specifically whether the experience needed to become an unrestricted free agent is four, five or six years.

“If it’s six years, it drastically affects the number of players available, so it’s hard to gauge who we would pinpoint,” Elway said.

General manager Brian Xanders joined Elway on the conference call.

More conference calls are scheduled to follow in the coming weeks, with head coach John Fox and commissioner Roger Goodell expected to speak directly with season-ticket holders.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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