A former NFL player, ESPN’s Merril Hoge can easily sift through players to find the talented of the bunch. Hoge joined Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro during Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports Radio to discuss the talent within the NFL Draft, as well as on the current Denver Broncos roster.
Hoge, along with most analysts, knows the exact needs the Broncos have. On the contrary, Hoge feels if you find a player who loves the game and knows the football fundamentals, you’re going to be in good shape.
“You gotta get your offensive line and get a consistent runner. That’s just what they lacked last year,” said Hoge. “Their offensive line was inconsistent, their runners were inconsistent.”
Since Christian McCaffrey will likely be gone by the time the Broncos are up, why not Joe Mixon? Hoge had high praise for the talent level of the Oklahoma running back. It’s his character that Hoge didn’t agree with. Mixon’s 2014 assault of a female student at Oklahoma has made NFL executives, coaches and analysts question his off-the-field behavior.
“He is the most complete runner in this draft. He’s a guy you can hand it to 25 times. You can move him outside the box and he can run routes like McCaffrey, so that would give you that,” said Hoge. “Now, if you felt comfortable as a team, I’d take him. Personally, the things that I know, I wouldn’t touch him. I wouldn’t want him on my football team.”
Whomever is the running back next year, Trevor Siemian has a good chance to be the guy handing them the ball. Despite some people’s criticism of his play, Hoge thinks the world of the young slinger.
“I though Simian was awesome to be honest with you.” said Hoge. “If you talked about simian throwing it 40-plus times and stuff, we’d be like ‘Ah man, the kid wont survive or the kid will be terrible if he does that’. Well, he got put into those situations with no running game and I’m telling you, when you got to watch him on tape I’m like ‘Gosh dangit, this kid played his tale off.'”
As far as Siemian’s counterpart Paxton Lynch goes, Hoge didn’t think of him as highly as he did Siemian. Lynch has a cannon for an arm, but this doesn’t do much for Hoge.
“JaMarcus Russell had a big arm. He could throw it from Savannah, Georgia to Denver, but you never knew where it was gonna go or when it was gonna go there.” said Hoge. “Big arm is so overrated. That’s why you gotta be smart and you gotta be able to execute plays and you gotta be able to understand what’s being done in front of you as well as what you’re doing.”
Don’t take this the wrong way, Hoge isn’t calling Lynch dumb. He knows Lynch can make some excellent throws, but the number of questionable decisions and throws Lynch made in college are a red flag. In my opinion, any comparison to Russell is not a good look for a quarterback’s career, but Lynch has plenty of time to prove Hoge wrong.
Listen to the full interview with Merril Hoge, including his thoughts on the New England Patriots, in the podcast below.
Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.