The Denver Broncos are a flat-out mess right now. They recently fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, they are on their third starting quarterback of the season, they have an overall record of 3-7 and practically no chance of making the postseason, and to top it all off, general manager John Elway publicly called the team soft prior to their Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
There are surely going to be more changes coming to the Denver coaching staff — maybe even before the 2017 season ends — and it’s a near certainty that the Broncos roster will have a significant amount of turnover next offseason.
While both the coaching staff and players undeniably need to get better for the Broncos to return to prominence, there is one department within the franchise whose performance has been awful during Elway’s tenure leading the front office.
That is the college scouting department.
Denver has been outstanding when it comes to identifying, attracting, and signing impact free agents, which speaks highly to the performance of the team’s pro personnel department.
When it comes to building their roster through the draft, though, the Broncos have struggled mightily.
Elway took charge of the Broncos’ football operations and player personnel departments in 2011. During his reign as Denver’s top executive, Elway has led seven drafts that have resulted in 54 drafted players for the Broncos.
Of those 54 players, 29 remain on Denver’s roster in some capacity. And only one of them, outside linebacker Von Miller, has earned Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors while playing for the Broncos.
To be totally fair, the Broncos’ college scouting department did find a couple of undrafted gems in cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (three Pro Bowl and three All-Pro selections), and running back C.J. Anderson (one Pro Bowl selection).
At the end of the day, though, continuously missing on draft picks and relying on high-priced free agents to build your roster isn’t a solid recipe for consistent long-term success in the NFL.
Winning is a priority in Denver, and it’s a near guarantee that Elway is going to make more than one difficult business decision in the coming months.
If he were being completely honest with himself, the first place Elway should look to improve is his college scouting department — especially if the team ends up with a top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which seems very likely at the moment.