Posted: Sunday April 24, 2005 3:58PM; Updated: Sunday April 24, 2005 4:13PM
Maurice Clarett was able to improve his 40-yard dash time in a private workout on March 31 after registering a very slow time at the NFL Scouting Combine.
NEW YORK -- We'll know the end of the world as we know it is near when the NFL Draft comes and goes and the Denver Broncos don't select a running back.
Maurice Clarett is a Bronco. Of course he is. We should have seen this one coming all along. Nobody hoards running backs quite like the guys with the horse's head on their helmets. Clarett is the 10th different RB drafted by Denver since 1998 and he joins a stable of runners that already includes Tatum Bell, Quentin Griffin, Mike Anderson, Ron Dayne and others. And let's not forget the Broncos basically gave away Reuben Droughns to Cleveland last month.
It's not a matter of if Clarett will get a shot to carry the ball in Denver -- it's when? Eventually every Broncos running back gets his 15 minutes of fame. Or at least that has been the pattern since TerrellDavis' knees started breaking down in 1999. Denver doesn't so much have a depth chart at the position as they do a 4x100 relay team. And the newest member to be passed the baton is Clarett, who if memory serves me correctly hasn't played in a while.
"We feel like he's got some skills,'' said Denver head coach Mike Shanahan, who chose Clarett late on Saturday night with the third round's final selection, just about the time Mel Kiper was letting his hair down. "We like the way he plays. When you take a shot on somebody, you're not really sure it's going to work out. But we thought it was worth a gamble.''
Maurice Clarett a gamble? Not exactly breaking news.
Is it just me, or is Shanahan taking a lot of advice from his assistant coaches? First, the Broncos acquired former Cleveland defensive linemen Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Michael Myers, and Ebenezer Ekuban this offseason, largely because well-respected Broncos defensive-line coach Andre Patterson vouched for them. Patterson spent the past two years coaching all four of those players as the Cleveland D-line coach.
And now we find out that longtime Broncos running-backs coach Bobby Turner went to bat for Clarett with Shanahan, persuading his boss to roll the dice in the third round on the onetime Ohio State star.
Sounds to me like Shanahan, without a playoff win since January 1999, is trying to spread the accountability around. (Relax, Mike. That one was strictly tongue-in-cheek. Everybody in Denver knows you're to blame).