COMMENTARY | Hard to believe, but the time remaining before the start of the NFL draft is now being measured in days and hours instead of months and weeks.
The Denver Broncos don't figure to be on the clock until a couple hours into the festivities, and, in total, they're scheduled to have six picks in the seven-round process, starting with the 28th selection in the first round.
All in all, it's not a bad place to be in Draft 2013, and with that in mind, here's a primer -- free of charge -- of some drafting dos and don'ts for vice president of football operations John Elway and the Orange and Blue, starting with …
DO draft with the current team's short-term Super Bowl window in mind
It's been said before, but it's worth repeating: The Broncos are a team built to win NOW.
At 37, Peyton Manning likely only has two good seasons at the most before the pass rush of Father Time catches up. Meanwhile Champ Bailey will be 35 by the time the season kicks off Sept. 5, while Wes Welker will be 32 and Willis McGahee is 31 going on 36 considering the position he plays and his injury history.
In short, there's no time like the present for these Broncos, and draft picks should be graded and made accordingly. That means project players, prospects whose best attribute is potential and long-term needs must be placed on the back burner this week.
DON'T -- as in do not -- trade up in the first round
It isn't necessarily good for the TV ratings, but the 2013 draft is being hailed for its depth and quantity of solid prospects rather than its blue-chippers and star quality.
As a result, 2012 was a good year to be a playoff team as many analysts, scouts and mock-draft mavens feel the quality available for pick No. 25 won't be a lot different than that for pick No. 5, making lower first-round picks and even many high second-round picks significantly better values.
The good news is this hasn't been lost on Elway, and it would take a flat-out giveaway of an offer for the Broncos to move up in the first round.
Conversely, DO trade down if you get a reasonable offer
As was just explained, there's legit talent and value to be found in the second, third and fourth rounds, and if some team, say, wants to move up into the latter part of the first round to grab a quarterback, the Denver War Room should be all ears.
In fact, the Broncos traded out of the first round last season -- winding up with what looks to be to a decent find in defensive lineman Derek Wolfe -- and they certainly shouldn't be shy about following suit this year.
And even if a trade entails getting an aging-but-still-productive veteran for draft pick, the Broncos' brain trust needs to give it serious consideration given the first DO edict above.
Definitely DON'T lock in on any one position with your top picks
The draft's depth extends across several positions, and a number of those just happen to line up with the Broncos' primary needs at defensive tackle, defensive end and cornerback.
Also, a top-notch safety or inside linebacker could unexpectedly fall to the Broncos, and they must be ready - with all options open - to pounce on the best-available player at a position of need or even semi-need.
DO come away with a defensive end and safety in this draft
Elway and Co. repeatedly have professed their faith and confidence in defensive end Robert Ayers and free safety Rahim Moore, but the departure of Elvis Dumervil and Moore's unspectacular first two seasons and unforgettable late-game playoff gaffe simply are too glaring to ignore.
Finding a couple of defensive ends -- be it a draft pick and a summer signing of a still-available veteran free agent such as Dwight Freeney or John Abraham or simply using a third of their six draft picks -- became priority No. 1 for the Broncos the minute Elvis left the building for Baltimore. After all, as the New York Giants proved in their two Super Bowl wins over the past six seasons, you can never stockpile too much defensive front talent.
Mock-draft research conducted by the on-the-ball folks at Mile High Report have identified Florida State defensive ends Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner as the consensus top first-round candidates for the Broncos, and either would go a long way in filling the franchise's No. 1 need.
Finally, DON'T use a high pick on a running back
As long as Manning is still taking snaps, throwing for 4,000-plus yards and finishing among the leading vote-getters in the league MVP race, the Broncos are a passing team in a passing league, and the roster should be shaped accordingly.
And while McGahee, Knowshon Moreno or 2012 third-round pick Ronnie Hillman aren't anyone's idea of a dependable, workhorse back, they've shown they can effectively shoulder the load and then some as a triumvirate.
Then, also taking into consideration the pass-protection issues of rookie backs and the RB gems -- such as 2012 NFL second-leading rusher Alfred Morris and the Broncos' own Terrell Davis -- who can be found late in drafts, there's no simply reason for Denver to spend a first- or second-round selection on an Eddie Lacy or a Montee Ball.
Ken Pomponio has spent the past 25 years as a sports journalist who has been published extensively in print and online. He's been an avid follower of the Denver Broncos and the NFL since early childhood, and can be found on Twitter @kenpomp.
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