The Denver Broncos made one of the surprising moves of the first round of the NFL Draft by trading up to draft pass rusher Shane Ray with the 23rd pick.
The Broncos traded their 28th pick, a 2015 fifth-round pick, a 2016 fifth-round pick, and offensive lineman Manny Ramirez to the Detroit Lions for the 23rd pick.
It seems like a bounty to move up five spots in the draft, especially when you consider Ray’s draft stock was falling after getting caught with marijuana three days before the draft.
In terms of talent, the Broncos may have gotten a steal with Ray at No. 23. Prior to his marijuana citation, most mock drafts had Ray going in the low 20s. Afterward, his stock declined, with SI’s Peter King putting him 32nd in his mock draft, the last pick of the first round, while quoting a GM who said he saw Ray as a second-rounder.
Additionally, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik told ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” that the citation and some injury issues make him risky to take in the first round:
“This changes Shane Ray dramatically because it’s, to me, such a poor decision this close to the draft. It’s the decision making. What is this guy going to do on Friday or Saturday night before a big game? Is he going to make another poor choice like this? The timing is so bad, and the foot issue, tells me that this guy isn’t just dropping out of the first round, he’s dropping to the third or fourth round now.”
Dominik added, “I don’t see any way he’s going in the first round.”
Though it’s harder to find game-changing talent in the fifth round, smart teams can find value deep in the draft. The Broncos clearly thought Ray was a sure-thing player and any issues he has could be dealt with on their team.
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