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Bronco notes: Top 30 prospect visits include several offensive linemen

Connection between Mike Hampton, Russell Wilson first pitches.
Credit: AP
Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, March 4, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

DENVER — It’s clear from their top 30 pre-draft visit list the Broncos are looking for offensive linemen who have the athleticism and movement to work well within Nathaniel Hackett’s outside zone-blocking system. 

Of the 8 prospects confirmed by 9NEWS who have visited, or scheduled to visit Broncos’ headquarters for a two-day session, five are offensive linemen. Each team is allowed up to 30 pre-draft visits with the visiting period ending April 20 (the last day they can be brought in) and 21st (the last day of visit).

The Broncos traded away their top two draft picks – the No. 9 and 40 overall – this year to Seattle in the Russell Wilson trade, leaving them waiting until the final selection of the second round, No. 64 overall, to make their first choice. They then have two picks in the third round (No. 75 and 96) and two more in the fourth round (No. 115 and 116) before getting one pick each in rounds five, six and seven.

Most of the prospects the Broncos are bringing in are projected to go in mid to late rounds and general manager George Paton said some may even become premium undrafted candidates. The confirmed list of Broncos’ top 30 visits:

Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa

Abe Lucas, OT, Washington State

Dylan Parham, OL, Memphis

Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska

Cole Strange, G-C, Tennessee-Chattanooga

Nick Grant, S, Virginia

Ja’Quan McMillian, CB, East Carolina

Shemari Jones, RB, Coastal Carolina

21 years after Hampton gem, Wilson to toss

Sports agent Mark Rodgers has negotiated two record-breaking contracts across two sports.

The first was an eight-year, $121 million deal -- $15.125 million per year – he worked out for his client, pitcher Mike Hampton, and the Major League Baseball Rockies on December 9, 2000. That contract made Hampton the highest-paid player in baseball history. (Two days later, the distinction went to Alex Rodriguez, who got a 10-year, $252 million deal from the Texas Rangers.)

The second record deal negotiated by Rodgers was in April 2019 when quarterback Russell Wilson received a four-year, $140 million extension from the NFL Seattle Seahawks. That $35 million a year average held up as the NFL’s richest until 16 months later when the Chiefs gave Patrick Mahomes II a deal worth $45 million per.

On Opening Day, 2001, Hampton, then-Colorado’s new hero, threw the first pitch that counted, and pitched 8 1/3 shutout innings in an 8-0 win against the St. Louis Cardinals, a game that was otherwise the major-league debut of a rookie left fielder named Albert Pujols. Hampton was eventually doomed by pre-humidor Coors Field.

On Opening Day, 2022, Wilson, Colorado’s new hero and former Rockies’ minor leaguer, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday at Coors Field where the humidor could well be at full stick. Wilson was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft by the Rockies. He played in 88 games at second base, 93 overall, across two Class A leagues and hit a combined .229 with 5 homers while stealing 19 bases.

RELATED: Russell Wilson to throw 1st pitch for Rockies' opener

There is playing quarterback with 21 other men running around at full speed and four or five of them coming directly at you. And there is trying to hit a slider after fouling off a 92 mph fastball.

After leaving Class A Asheville to play quarterback for Wisconsin in 2011, Wilson was selected by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 draft. Baseball was done, except for the occasional celebratory first-pitch honor. After 10 seasons and 9 Pro Bowl appearances with Seattle, Wilson was traded to the Broncos a month ago in exchange for 6 ½ starters – tight end Noah Fant, defensive tackle Shelby Harris, part-time starting quarterback Drew Lock and four combined draft picks in the first and second “starter” rounds.

RELATED: The next Broncos owner could be among these 9 candidates

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