ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – The Denver Broncos used their top two picks in the NFL draft to plug holes created by the high-profile departures of Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson in the opening moments of free agency.
A day after moving up five spots to select Memphis QB Paxton Lynch with the 26th overall selection, general manager John Elway selected Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis with the final pick of the second round Friday night.
And with the 98th and final pick of the night, Elway chose Boston College’s versatile safety Justin Simmons, bolstering a defensive backfield that lost free agents David Bruton Jr. and Omar Bolden.
Lynch will likely back up newcomer Mark Sanchez initially as he adjusts from the spread he ran in college to Gary Kubiak’s pro-style offense. But he’s projected as the long-term answer under center that Elway so patiently pursued ever since Osweiler bolted to Houston 48 hours after Peyton Manning announced his retirement.
PHOTO GALLERY: Broncos & The NFL Draft 2016
“Because he’s been in playoffs, he’s been in championship games,” Elway said. “He’s proven he can do that. He hasn’t done it in a while. I don’t know that he’s ever been in a great offensive system that takes advantage of what he can do. And I can’t tell you I’ve gone and studied him when he was with the Jets. I know with the Eagles last year … he played okay when he did play. He made a couple of mistakes.
“So, I think sometimes you get quarterbacks in the right situations, you get the right people around him, then you have a chance to take advantage of what they can do.”
Osweiler’s deal with the Texans was for $72 million over four years with a whopping $37 million guaranteed for a player who’s started just seven games in the NFL.
Lynch will get slightly more than $9 million over four years, and the club has a fifth-year option.
Elway can use that cost savings to pay star linebacker Von Miller, whom he franchise tagged.
Gotsis will also be eased into things as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL he suffered against Virginia on Oct. 31. He said he hopes to be back on the field by training camp.
Born in Abbotsford, Australia, the athletic 6-foot-5, 282-pounder played Australian Rules Football for eight years before moving to the United States at age 19.
“The league that I played in, you’d go down and you’d pay $300 and get some insurance, practice once a week and play once a week. It was just guys that loved the game,” Gotsis said. “I just wanted to be out there having fun, having to run around. That’s what it was. There weren’t 5,000 people in the stands or anything. There were 30 people surrounded by a roped off field. It was just guys out there loving the game.
“It made me fall in love with the game and one thing led to another. The more I was out there, the more I loved it. Now I have a chance to play at the highest level on the best team in the world. It’s awesome.”
Gotsis will help plug a hole left by Jackson’s departure to Jacksonville in free agency.
Denver lost just one other defensive starter this offseason: inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. So, Gotsis is joining a defense that will undeniably be asked to lead the Broncos again in 2016.
“To become part of the best defense in the last 30 years or so, it’s an awesome feeling,” Gotsis said.
Simmons adds versatility to Denver’s safety corps that features T.J. Ward and Darrian Stewart but lacked depth and he can also contribute right away on special teams.
“He’s going to fill a lot of roles on our football team,” Kubiak said. “But the biggest thing that he gives us the ability to do defensively is to have some flexibility with T.J. being a box player and Stew being in the middle of the field. This kid can go either way. … So, we’ve added a big piece to the puzzle, obviously losing Bruton. So, this is a great gift to the team.”
The Broncos added running back depth with Devontae Booker from Utah with their fourth pick. Booker was the 136th pick in the three-day draft and after averaging 120.6 yards per game for the Utes, he should help the Broncos transition to a new quarterback in 2016.
The team picked guard Connor McGovern out of Missouri with their fifth pick in the fourth round. McGovern was one of the strongest players in college football and broke weight room records at Mizzou.
With their sixth pick the Broncos took fullback Andy Janovich out of Nebraska. Janovich earned an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine, most likely due to his special teams play that netted 13 tackles last season.
Safety Will Parks out of Arizona was taken by the Broncos with their seventh pick in the sixth round.
“Anywhere the coaches want to play me at I’ll take my versatility to help out anywhere I play at. I’m just excited right now and I’m kind of stuttering, but I’m just ready to get to work,” Parks said.
With their eighth and final pick the Broncos took punter Riley Dixon form Syracuse who will compete with Britton Colquitt for the starting job.
“I’m just looking forward to getting in and competing. It will be nice to have someone to compete with, but my main focus right now is focusing on the task at hand and doing my best to help the team,” Dixon said.
– By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Sports Writer
CBS4 staff contributed to this report.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)