By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – Leave it to Derek Wolfe to expose the NFL’s draft process for the window-dressing, posture-laden, purposely-misleading whirlwind that it is.
“It’s just a big game that they play,” the Denver Broncos’ veteran defensive end told reporters Tuesday. “It’s just like, ‘I’m going to show interest in this guy just to get this team to think…’ You’re just playing a game. Listen, we’re just commodities in a business. Going through the draft process, every day everybody tries to make you feel special like you’re the next greatest thing. That’s just the start of it. Once you get drafted, that’s when the real work has to start. I never even talked to the Broncos. I didn’t even have a single meeting with the Broncos. Every team I thought I was going to go to, they just went the complete opposite direction. I was just like, ‘I don’t know what the [heck] is going on here.’ Then I get a call from [President of Football Ops/GM] John Elway and I’m like, ‘Alright, cool. I guess I’m going to Denver.’ I had no clue I was going to come here. I’m glad I did. I have a lot of great memories here. I hope I can create some more.”
Wolfe, who claims to pay zero attention to the process, was made the No. 36 overall pick of the 2012 draft. Like so many other prospects, he had no idea Denver would be interested, let alone scribble his name on their draft card.
Same for outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, the team’s first-round pick in 2018. Same for running back Royce Freeman, their third-round selection. Neither visited Dove Valley on an official top-30 trek, neither knew where they ranked — if at all — on the Broncos’ big board.
If there are such thing as exact sciences, the draft is its antithesis.
“I think at the end I kind of just expected that anything can happen,” Freeman noted.
Wolfe’s insight, poignant as ever, adds to the increasingly redundant nature of hosting players or privately working them out. And it echoes Broncos coach Vic Fangio’s stunningly candid admission that, often times, showmanship trumps scouting.
“Some guys you’re bringing in just to get a little bit of a better feel for them,” Fangio explained last month. “Some guys you’re bringing in you feel like you have a lot of questions that you want to ask and get answered. It’s a different degree. Some of those guys you’re bringing in, you’re just bringing in as a smoke screen. I wouldn’t get too enamored with who we’re bringing in or who the other 31 teams are bringing in. It could mean something, it might not mean something. I think guys that try and read the tea leaves on the draft drive themselves crazy.”
Denver met with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Iowa tight end Noah Fant on Wednesday. They’ve used an estimated 26 of their maximum 30 pre-draft interviews with the offseason spectacle two weeks away.
A few of these players will soon rock Broncos orange. Unless they don’t.