Lewis Grizzard once wrote, "If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes." So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the first round of the seven-round NFL draft gets the most attention.
This year's draft is April 26-28, and the Broncos have the 25th pick of the first round. They have six picks overall, skipping only the sixth round.
Denver did OK in the second round last year, drafting UCLA safety Rahim Moore (45th overall) and Miami offensive tackle Orlando Franklin (46th). As rookie seasons go, the Broncos batted .500 on those two. Franklin was a full-season starter and helped the Broncos lead the NFL in rushing. Moore, however, didn't play well.
To keep improving, the Broncos have to bat better than .500 in the first three rounds of the draft.
The bottom of last year's second round produced some big hits. Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith was the 26th pick of the second round, Browns wide receiver Greg Little the 27th pick of the second round, Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas the 30th pick of the second round and Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb the 32nd pick of the second round. All made immediate contributions to their teams.
Smith had 50 catches, seven for touchdowns. Little led the Browns in receptions. Thomas rushed for 581 yards. Cobb caught 25 passes and scored on punt and kickoff returns.
Want more proof that you don't have to be a first-round draft pick to be a successful NFL player? Denver's highest-paid player in the 2012 season will be defensive end Elvis Dumervil. He was a fourth-round pick (126th overall) in the 2006 draft.
Jeff Legwold: firstname.lastname@example.org