Broncos select WR Latimer, RT Schofield

By ARNIE STAPLETON - AP Pro Football Writer
    2014-05-09 23:24

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - John Elway took a break from his defensive rebuilding project Friday night to give Peyton Manning another big target and an athletic right tackle.

Denver's general manager selected Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer in the second round of the NFL draft and Michigan offensive lineman Michael Schofield in the third round.

''By the time we get through tomorrow, they're going to call us the Big Ten Broncos,'' said Elway, who welcomed first-round pick Bradley Roby of Ohio State to team headquarters earlier in the day.

With a run on wide receivers taking place and the Broncos anticipating as many as four compensatory picks next season, Elway moved up seven spots in a trade with San Francisco to take Latimer, a 6-foot-2 1/2-inch, 215-pounder, with the 56th overall pick.

Latimer's draft stock soared when he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and posted a vertical jump of 39 inches on his pro day, then added 23 reps on the bench press at the combine.

He brings speed, size and strength to an offense intent on adding toughness and balance with a stouter ground game in 2014.

''He was the best-blocking wide receiver by far in the draft,'' Elway said.

Latimer is a two-time All-Big Ten selection who finished his three-year college career with 135 catches, 2,152 yards and 17 touchdowns. He's the perfect present for Manning, who set NFL records last season by throwing for 55 touchdowns and 5,447 yards with the highest-scoring team in league history.

''This is going to be awesome (to) get to play with a record-setting offense,'' Latimer said. ''I came from an offense that was powerful and record-setting at IU. I hope to add on to this offense, contribute the best way I can.''

Like Latimer, Schofield was thrilled to join a Super Bowl contender.

''That's the best possible situation for anyone,'' Schofield said. ''That's a dream coming into the NFL, a team right in Super Bowl contention.''

And in Schofield, the Broncos have the right tackle they coveted.

Elway is shuffling his offensive line, which was manhandled by the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, putting a damper on an otherwise spectacular season. He let Zane Beadles go in free agency and moved right tackle Orlando Franklin to left guard.

With star left tackle Ryan Clady returning from the foot surgery that sidelined him almost all of last season, Chris Clark moves over to right tackle and now will vie with Schofield, a 6-foot-7, 305-pounder who can also play guard, for the starting job.

Despite becoming the first team in league history to score more than 600 points, the Broncos surrendered a whopping 24.9 points a game - 25.3 if you count the playoffs - and Elway focused on fixing his defense this offseason.

But after adding marquee free agents T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, he signed Emmanuel Sanders to replace Eric Decker in a receiving corps that also features Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Bubba Caldwell and tight end Julius Thomas.

Now, Latimer joins that impressive group, adding an uncommon mix of size and speed.

''There's a bunch of other really good wide receivers, but what really got our attention was the way he took pride in what he did as far as blocking and then he's got great hands,'' Elway said. ''He's got great speed. He's big and he's tough. He's a complete wide receiver.''

Latimer said he's looking forward to playing with the notoriously demanding Manning.

''He's going to make sure I'm in the right place to make plays and I'm going to make the plays for him,'' Latimer said. ''It's going to be a great combination. I'm happy to be a part of this.''

Latimer isn't only big, he's brash.

After tearing up the Big Ten, he said, ''I'm going to do the same thing, come in and dominate in the NFL.''



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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