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ENGLEWOOD Colo. (AP) While John Elway and

    • 386 posts
    November 12, 2018 9:40 PM PST

    his staff wrap up preparations for next week’s NFL draft, it’s the Denver Broncos‘ 2017 draft class that’s really on the clock.”Well, we’re hoping they can help us this year,” Elway said Thursday.A half dozen of Elway’s 2017 draft picks either missed their entire rookie season or  played so sparingly that they remain virtual unknowns.Only first-round pick Garrett Bolles had much of an impact, but he was one of the most penalized players in the league and was openly mocked in the locker room by several veterans after the tough-talking left tackle was bowled over by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan on Christmas Eve, which they had warned him would happen if he didn’t fix his poor technique.Aside from Bolles, who started all 16 games, the 2017 draft class couldn’t get onto the field, combining for zero starts and missing a combined 75 games while playing sparingly in 37.A year after an offensive-defensive rift opened in the Broncos locker room, there was a simmering generational gap in 2017. Several veterans including Chris Harris Jr. and Todd Davis said the rookie class just didn’t grasp the NFL leap until the season was already a lost cause thanks to an eight-game skid, their longest in 50 years.Three of last year’s picks didn’t play at all – third-round wide receiver Carlos Henderson (hand), fifth-round tight end Jake Butt (knee) and seventh-round quarterback Chad Kelly (knee Max Garcia Color Rush Jersey , wrist).Three others hardly played.Defensive end DeMarcus Walker, Denver’s second-round pick, managed a single sack in 10 games after losing weight to move outside. Third-round cornerback Brendan Langley had one punt return for 6 yards. And sixth-round running back De’Angelo Henderson carried the ball just seven times for 13 yards after a terrific training camp.Meanwhile, fifth-rounder Isaiah McKenzie played much more than expected.Coach Vance Joseph raised eyebrows by handing the rookie from the University of Georgia the starting punt returner’s job early in training camp even as other position battles raged on, most notably at quarterback between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.Joseph also stuck with McKenzie through a half dozen fumbles that left players privately fuming that the coaches were rewarding the rookie for his persistent gaffes.McKenzie’s mistakes weren’t limited to special teams. He cost Denver a chance at points just before halftime in Week 16 when he forgot the Broncos didn’t have any more timeouts, caught a pass and instead of stepping out of bounds spun back to the middle of the field and was tackled at the 20 as time expired.If the Broncos are to rebound in 2018, a big bounce-back from their entire 2017 draft class would surely help.”Yeah, our expectations are that that class participates a lot more this year than it did last year,” Elway said. ”At least that’s the hope.”Butt was a projected first-rounder last year before he blew out a knee in his bowl game and slipped to the fifth round. If healthy, he could provide a big boost to an offense that was anemic last season.”Jake seems to be running around in good shape,” Elway said.Kelly also was considered a steal as the final player selected in Round 7 because he was recovering from multiple injuries.He could be the wild card in the quarterback room this summer because he has the chops to beat out Lynch as Case Keenum’s backup, which could prompt Elway to finally move on from Lynch Bradley Chubb Jersey , whom he moved up to select in the first round two years ago only to see him languish on the bench for two years.Somebody else who needs to shake off a shaky rookie season is Joseph. He inherited a 9-7 team that was one year removed from a Super Bowl triumph and went 5-11 with eight double-digit losses last year.Joseph kept his job but brought in several new assistants as he tries to become the first head coach in the Super Bowl era to reach the playoffs after winning four fewer games than the one he inherited.It would help if the 2017 class proves first impressions were wrong and if the upcoming draft class has more of an immediate impact.The Broncos own the fifth overall pick, their highest since Elway chose superstar Von Miller with the second selection in 2011.After publicly lobbying Elway to sign free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, Miller isn’t offering his GM any advice in advance of the draft.”I’m cool with whatever he does with that pick,” Miller said.NOTES: Elway said he was glad to be able to trade CB Aqib Talib to the Rams, one of his desired destinations. ”I know that he’ll feel comfortable playing for Wade (Phillips) out there. He knows that system very well,” Elway said.— SEATTLE (0-0) at DENVER (0-0)Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, FoxOPENING LINE 鈥?Denver by 1RECORD VS. SPREAD 鈥?Seattle 6-9-1, Denver 4-11-1SERIES RECORD 鈥?Broncos lead 34-21LAST MEETING 鈥?Seahawks beat Broncos 26-20 in OT, Sept. 22, 2014AP PRO32 RANKING – Seahawks No. 18, Broncos No. 23SEAHAWKS OFFENSE 鈥?OVERALL (15) , RUSH (23), PASS (14).SEAHAWKS DEFENSE 鈥?OVERALL (11), RUSH (19), PASS (6).BRONCOS OFFENSE – OVERALL (17), RUSH (12), PASS (20).BRONCOS DEFENSE – OVERALL (3), RUSH (5), PASS (4).STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES 鈥?Seattle QB Russell Wilson‘s 34 TD passes led league in ’17, including NFL-record 19 in fourth quarter. … Wilson is fourth NFL player with 3,000 yards in each of first six seasons. … S Earl Thomas ended holdout midweek after Seahawks rebuffed his request for new contract or trade. … WR Doug Baldwin‘s 29 TD catches second most in NFL since ’15. … Tyler Lockett led league with 949 kick return yards. … WR Brandon Marshall second among active players with 959 catches, 12 Matt Paradis Color Rush Jersey ,215 yards and third in TD receptions (82). … Marshall’s first four seasons were in Denver (2006-09), only has played against Broncos once, in 2011. … LB Bobby Wagner ranked third in NFC with 133 tackles, franchise-record sixth season with 100-plus stops. His 776 tackles were second most in league since ’12. … CB Shaquill Griffin‘s 14 pass breakups fourth most among rookies in ’17. Brother Shaquem, who has no left hand, will start at linebacker in first NFL game. … Broncos own longest active streak in NFL with six straight wins in openers. … QB Case Keenum set career highs in ’17 with Vikings in completions (325), passing yards (3,547), TD throws (22). His 67.6 completion percentage ranked second in league. … Rookie Royce Freeman set to become first rookie RB to start for Denver since Hall of Famer Terrell Davis in ’95. Freeman’s all-time Pac-12 leader in TD runs (60). … WR Demaryius Thomas only player in NFL with 80-plus catches and 900-plus yards each of last six seasons. … WR Emmanuel Sanders had 11 catches for 149 yards in last meeting. … LB Von Miller third player since ’82 (Reggie White, DeMarcus Ware) with 10-plus sacks in six of first seven seasons. Miller leads league with 83 1/2 sacks since ’11. … LB Brandon Marshall coming off third 100-tackle season. … Chris Harris Jr. one of three CBs in NFL with 400-plus tackles and 15-plus interceptions since rookie season in ’11. … Rookie pass rusher Bradley Chubb set North Carolina State records with 60 tackles for loss and 26 sacks. Broncos drafted him fifth overall … Fantasy tip: Sanders looks for a monster season with Keenum at QB and should test revamped Seattle secondary.___