According to Forbes.com, Taylor Lewan is poised to sign a contract exceeding $11 million and he will receive a guaranteed shot to make it in the NFL as a first-round pick. But what about Michael Schofield and Jeremy Gallon?
Schofield is in a much better position than Gallon as a third-round choice (Gallon went in Round 7), likely to sign a deal worth around $550,000 per year, and with teams invested more financially - plus the need to land a future starter in the first three rounds -- there is greater incentive for the Denver Broncos to give Schofield every opportunity to be successful.
But in Denver, where three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady returns after missing 14 regular-season games due to injury last year and 2013 starter Chris Clark returns at right tackle, there is no need to thrust Schofield into the starting lineup.
"They're looking for a guy that can play on special teams, and that could be his initial role," Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck said. "It's almost seen as a redshirt year because, on paper, if Denver stays healthy, they shouldn't need him to start and this can be a development year for him offensively."
The Broncos were eyeing three offensive tackles in the draft with the versatility to play inside also - Schofield, Nevada's Joel Bitonio (who went early in Round 2) and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandijo (who also went in Round 2). Schofield was the best available when Denver was on the clock in the third round.
While Schofield should settle into a backup role in 2014, he could challenge Clark for a starting job in 2015 or move inside to compete with Orlando Franklin, a three-year starter at tackle that is transitioning to guard this season.
"If Franklin shows he can be a guard, then Schofield's place to make the roster in the future will be at right tackle competing with Chris Clark," Renck said. "Clark's a good player but he's not Ryan Clady."
It may be the dream of every player to start right away, but Schofield will have a chance to learn from one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL while contributing in some way to a team poised to win its division and contend for the Super Bowl.
"Peyton's attention to detail is beyond obsessive," Renck said. "When draft picks get picked, they get a call from [GM] John Elway, [coach] John Fox and then from Peyton Manning they get a text that says, 'Congratulations, now let's get to work.'
"Everything they do is done in a specific way, the way they watch meetings, do walk-throughs and that all stems from Peyton, so as a young guy you either get on board with that or they don't keep you.
"I would think Schofield, in terms of learning the NFL, it's hard to be in a better situation. They're so pass-happy, if he's a road-grader, that is not Denver's offense, but in terms of learning how to approach defenses, and how to prepare, he won't have a better situation than being around Peyton Manning."
Gallon will also be learning from one of the game's all-time great QBs, and a former Wolverine, in Tom Brady. However, seventh-round choices are easy dispensable. The good news is that Gallon isn't up against impossible odds.
"He's really going to compete with Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins, guys that were rookies last year, for the fifth receiver spot," Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin said. "He could end up signed to the practice squad, but we'll see.
"They see a good athlete. [Coach] Bill Belichick mentioned that Gallon is a compact, explosive athlete that they can use in the slot. I believe he has some kick-returning experience too and they don't have a kick returner so that could be a chance for him in the preseason to impress and win a spot."
The NFL is full of stories in which late-round picks succeed, including Brady, a sixth-round choice in 2000, but there are a lot more stories of players picked late in the draft or signing as free agents that don't make it.
"It's so hard to say what his chances are because seventh-round picks are guaranteed nothing," Volin said. "I don't think they were thrilled with Boyce or Thompkins last year. Thompkins was a good story as an undrafted free agent but he did very little to cement his roster spot coming into this season and Josh Boyce as their fourth-round pick did nothing. Gallon will be given a chance to win a roster spot but he has to go out and do it."
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