The Broncos moved up and stole a previously top-ten ranked NFL prospect Thursday night. Shane Ray, the SEC defensive player of the year is now a Denver Bronco but not without some controversy.

The Broncos believed they had to move up from No. 28 in order to get the former Tiger. The trade with the Lions swapped the teams’ first round picks and also gave Detroit the Broncos 2015 fifth-round pick (143 overall), the Broncos’ 2016 fifth-round pick and veteran center Manny Ramirez.

Ray, a 6’3”, 245-pound versatile outside linebacker, will immediately compliment not only Von Miller but he will also be a great backup to the aging veteran DeMarcus Ware. His on field play has been spectacular but an issue arose just days before the draft making him all the more thankful that the Broncos selected him in the first round.

“I’m grateful and indebted to the Broncos for letting me try and redeemed myself. I can’t wait to come and give everything I have to this program.”

The incident Ray was referencing happened Monday morning around 5 am in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. He was pulled over for speeding and was subsequently cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Ray was allowed to leave the scene of the incident because it was determined that he was not driving under the influence. The citation immediately affected his draft stock and dropped him to the Broncos at No. 23. Ray immediately apologized for the incident and spoke about it with the media Thursday night.

“I let someone really close to me influence me,” Ray said Thursday night. “I haven’t failed any drug tests, wasn’t under the influence. Weed hasn’t ever controlled me and will not control me so it isn’t an issue at all.”

John Elway has never been shy about taking chances on players with suspected character issues. Just last year he selected cornerback Bradley Roby in the first round after he dropped down to the Broncos for similar maturity issues. Elway and his staff admitted to having Ray ranked 10th on their boards and explained the move shortly after the pick was made.

“We have the utmost confidence in Shane that he realized the mistake he made. He guaranteed that it wouldn’t happen again,” Elway said and he emphasized why they made the trade to get Ray at 23rd overall. “We thought it was too good to be true that he was still there.”

A turf toe injury in the team’s Citrus Bowl on January 1 kept Ray out of the combine and slowed him at his pro day. However, the toe didn’t seem to affect his position among his peers and both the Broncos and Ray are confident that it will not be an issue as the team nears the regular season.

“I’m very confident that I’ll be ready. The issue with the foot is I haven’t had time to rehab, trying to prepare for the Combine, trying to prepare for my pro day and even more so doing workouts for teams. It’s limited the amount of time that I’ve had to focus on my recovery from my foot injury. But I understand that when I go to the Broncos, they’ll have whatever I need to do to recover, and by the season I’ll be ready to go out there and be the same Shane Ray that you saw on Saturdays attacking quarterbacks.”

“That came down to ‘Greek’ (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos). ‘Greek’ thought he would be fine,” Elway said in reference to Ray’s toe. “He’s played with it up to this point. And I think if there were any issues with it, the key thing is it can be fixed if there were any issues with it going further. So, that was the key thing for us.”

At Missouri Ray was an explosive playmaker and had a great 2014 with 14.5 sacks. He is ready and willing to learn and prove himself on his way to showing the league he is a top-10 talent. Ray seemed excited to enter the NFL and do whatever is asked of him by Wade Phillips and the Broncos.

“I’m more than capable of doing everything that the Broncos require of me, especially in the run game, more so in the pass game. There are things I can improve at. I don’t have any issue dropping into coverage. There’s no question about that at all. I think I’m more than capable of doing anything that the Broncos ask for me to do, including being the best pass-rusher in this draft.”

Ray reiterated that Monday’s incident is an afterthought and his actions going forward will prove that.

“I find myself as a steal. All the teams that passed on me that were in the top 10, I feel like they made a huge mistake. And as a Denver Bronco, I plan to show them about the mistake they made. Like I said, I’m so grateful to the Denver Broncos for giving me the opportunity, and I can’t wait to learn from guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and just be a force.”

The Broncos and their fans are surely hoping that Monday’s incident is merely the one time mistake Ray and Elway are considering it to be. Gary Kubiak believes it is and is excited at the new relationship that they embarked on Thursday night.

“The thing that jumps at you when you watch this kid play ball is how much he loves to play. He plays so hard. We talk about playing hard; we talk about effort, so he will fit right in from that standpoint.”

Many players have made mistakes and many have repeated them. Denver undoubtedly got a great player on the field but the all too familiar question poised now is can he stay on the field long enough to justify his selection in round one of the 2015 NFL Draft?

Email Sam at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SamCowhick.

For complete coverage of the Denver Broncos here.