Broncos select Australian defensive tackle Adam Gotsis
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos used their top two picks in the NFL draft to plug holes created by the high-profile departures of Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson in the opening moments of free agency.
A day after moving up five spots to select Memphis QB Paxton Lynch with the 26th overall selection, general manager John Elway selected Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis with the final pick of the second round Friday night.
And with the 98th and final pick of the night, Elway chose Boston College's versatile safety Justin Simmons, bolstering a defensive backfield that lost free agents David Bruton Jr. and Omar Bolden.
Lynch will likely back up newcomer Mark Sanchez initially as he adjusts from the spread he ran in college to Gary Kubiak's pro-style offense. But he's projected as the long-term answer under center that Elway so patiently pursued ever since Osweiler bolted to Houston 48 hours after Peyton Manning announced his retirement.
Osweiler's deal with the Texans was for $72 million over four years with a whopping $37 million guaranteed for a player who's started just seven games in the NFL.
Lynch will get slightly more than $9 million over four years, and the club has a fifth-year option.
Elway can use that cost savings to pay star linebacker Von Miller, whom he franchise tagged.
Gotsis will also be eased into things as he continues his recovery from a torn ACL he suffered against Virginia on Oct. 31. He said he hopes to be back on the field by training camp.
Born in Abbotsford, Australia, the athletic 6-foot-5, 282-pounder played Australian Rules Football for eight years before moving to the United States at age 19.
''The league that I played in, you'd go down and you'd pay $300 and get some insurance, practice once a week and play once a week. It was just guys that loved the game,'' Gotsis said. ''I just wanted to be out there having fun, having to run around. That's what it was. There weren't 5,000 people in the stands or anything. There were 30 people surrounded by a roped off field. It was just guys out there loving the game.
''It made me fall in love with the game and one thing led to another. The more I was out there, the more I loved it. Now I have a chance to play at the highest level on the best team in the world. It's awesome.''
Gotsis will help plug a hole left by Jackson's departure to Jacksonville in free agency.
Denver lost just one other defensive starter this offseason: inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. So, Gotsis is joining a defense that will undeniably be asked to lead the Broncos again in 2016.
''To become part of the best defense in the last 30 years or so, it's an awesome feeling,'' Gotsis said.
Simmons adds versatility to Denver's safety corps that features T.J. Ward and Darrian Stewart but lacked depth and he can also contribute right away on special teams.
''He's going to fill a lot of roles on our football team,'' Kubiak said. ''But the biggest thing that he gives us the ability to do defensively is to have some flexibility with T.J. being a box player and Stew being in the middle of the field. This kid can go either way. ... So, we've added a big piece to the puzzle, obviously losing Bruton. So, this is a great gift to the team.''
The Broncos have six more selections Saturday, including ''Mr. Irrelevant,'' the 253rd and final pick.
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