- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When John Elway says he wants to be "ready for anything" by the time the draft opens Thursday night, he means everything.
Sitting near the bottom of the first round of this week's draft, the Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager said Monday he's prepared to do what needs to be done to secure the players they want. Elway said the team is certainly willing to stay put at the 31st pick. They would also move up if they see an opportunity to snag a player they deem worthy of the capital it would take to make the move, or would move down as Elway did in 2012 when he traded out of the first round.
"We're looking at the options of moving up, but we're also looking at the possibility of moving back," Elway said. "Leading up to the draft there's going to be plenty of talk out there, and until you really get to draft day you never really know what's going to happen."
The Broncos have a routine allotment of picks at the moment -- one in each of the seven rounds. They enter this week's three-day affair coming off back-to-back 13-3 seasons, including a Super Bowl trip, and -- as Elway said -- no roster holes that need immediate attention.
"We don't feel we have huge holes so we're going to try to pick football players we believe can make our football team and also help us," Elway said.
With Wesley Woodyard having signed with the Titans in free agency, the biggest hole on the depth chart may be at middle linebacker. The Broncos took some swings at linebackers during free agency, but did not sign any of them. Elway, as he has said throughout the offseason, reaffirmed Monday his belief that the job could be filled in-house with Nate Irving handling the duties on first and second downs and safety T.J. Ward as an option in some of the team's third-down packages.
"I don't know that is necessarily a need, we feel pretty good about Nate, especially on first and second down," Elway said. " ... We're more concerned ... on third down. T.J. Ward is an option there, he does a tremendous job in the box."
If the Broncos do get any interest for a trade Thursday night, it will most likely come from a team that wants back into the first round to take a quarterback it desires.
There is also the matter of the "fifth-year" option available to teams for first-round picks in the current collective bargaining agreement. Grabbing a quarterback in the first round that a team believed could be a potential long-term starter would give the team the ability to have a fifth year on the contract instead of four on rookie deals for players selected in the second round or later.
"I think it adds to it, there's no question, especially with the quarterbacks," Elway said. "It makes the end of the first round more inviting."
Elway, a staunch believer in the "best-player-available" philosophy during the draft, said if an offensive tackle or guard was the most highly-graded player at No. 31, the team would not hesitate to take the player. If all of the cornerbacks the team likes are gone by the 31st pick, the strength of the board will likely be an edge rusher or an offensive lineman.
Also, Monday the Broncos added some help in the defensive line when they signed defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Austin, a second-round pick by the New York Giants in the 2011 draft, has been de-railed some by injuries thus far in his career.
He missed his rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle and he was waived last year by the Dallas Cowboys after injuring his back in practice. He later had surgery, but after working him out last week, Elway said Austin will join the team healthy.
"He was a guy who really had a first-round grade three years ago ... he had some injuries," Elway said. "We worked him out last week and he's healed from his back surgery."