- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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It has finally arrived, the first May draft. And in the final hours before everybody is really on the clock, it's time to conclude a one-a-day look at some specific players who could find their way into the Denver Broncos' draft class by the time the seven rounds come to a close.
Today: Colorado State center Weston Richburg.
The Broncos would likely need to move around a bit to have a chance at one of the best interior linemen on the board and one who played plenty of football just up Interstate 25 from their team headquarters.
That's because Richburg is either, depending on which scout or personnel executive in the league you ask, the best or second-best center in the draft. He does not carry the grade to be taken with the Broncos' first pick -- No. 31 -- and is not expected to last on the board until they pick in the second round at No. 62.
But having played some tackle, guard and center in his 50 career starts with the Rams, Richburg has exactly the kind of versatility and durability the team wants up front. Richburg said this week that teams see him as a center first, but have already talked to him about the prospect of playing guard.
"I've had some teams inquire about that, but I'm a football player and I'm completely open to playing wherever they'd like me to," Richburg said. "And I know versatility is something they want, playing guard is something I would have to do and be more than willing to do."
Richburg also symbolizes the argument against every overzealous parent, coach, or even player, who believes what happens before college determines a pro's future. He essentially played just one full season of varsity football in high school.
After tearing an ACL during his sophomore year he was advised by several doctors not to have surgery until the growth plate in his leg had closed meaning a growth spurt was over. So, Richburg waited a year to have surgery to repair his knee and did not play as a junior.
After a six-month recovery from the surgery, TCU and Colorado State saw enough in Richburg's senior year to recruit him. After choosing to play at CSU, Richburg went on to start every game of his career for the Rams -- 50 consecutive games.
"It's definitely a crazy story how it's all worked out," Richburg said. "I missed a lot of high school [football], but I played more in college than most guys. I don't consider myself behind, I'm probably a little bit ahead."
Richburg played in a zone blocking scheme when former CSU coach Steve Fairchild was calling the shots. He then played in a more physical man-on-man scheme over the past two years with former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain now the team's coach.
More than one scout had also referred to not only Richburg's football savvy, but his toughness as well. His junior season with CSU, Richburg fractured his right hand with three games remaining in the season.
He played the next two games at tackle, but in the season finale simply snapped with his left hand with a cast on his right.
"I was kind of nervous about it the week before the game, but once I got in the game I kind let loose and made it happen," Richburg said. "It actually went pretty well."
Richburg will spend the draft in Texas, with his family and some of his former Colorado State teammates. He's made several team visits in recent weeks. Between appearances at the Senior Bowl as well the scouting combine, Richburg has met with every team in some fashion.
"It's almost here and I almost have new job," Richburg said. "We're two weeks behind everybody else who has gone through this … Sometimes it gets a little stressful and you do get a little anxious, but I have tried to sit back and enjoy the process because it has been such a unique situation."
6dEric D. Williams