When the Broncos came on the clock, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o (ILB) and Alabama's Eddie Lacy (RB) were both still on the board. But Denver had another target in mind.
North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams was the pick, a player that led the AQ with 25 quarterback hurries in 2012. The 6'3", 313-pound defensive lineman recorded five sacks with the Tar Heels last season and ran a 5.03 at the NFL's scouting combine in February.
During the draft, the Broncos had the option of trading down, but ultimately chose Williams.
"Once Sylvester was there we said, ‘No, this is the guy we want, we're going to stay here,'" Elway said on Thursday evening. "We did have an option to go back, but we didn’t want to. We were thrilled that Sylvester was there and we didn’t want to move.”
In Denver, Williams is expected to start off as a rotational player on the Broncos' defensive line, joining holdover Kevin Vickerson and free agent acquisition Terrance Knighton at defensive tackle.
"With what they have inside, I think he's going to be a rotational guy that will get a lot of production," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said shortly after the pick.
"I had no idea," Williams said when asked if he was aware of Denver's interest in him. "I was really looking forward to being a first-round pick and to come in and give it all I got for whatever team takes a chance on me. The Denver Broncos took a chance on me at [pick No.] 28."
On ESPN's Sport Science, Williams drove a 325 pound sled ten yards in less than four seconds and sacked Sport Science's dummy quarterback with 2,127 pounds of force, the hardest hit the show has measured in 2013.
"I’m going to come in and give the Denver Broncos everything I got.”
In Williams, Denver has found a solid defender. But the Broncos aren't done yet.
The second and third rounds of the draft will kickoff tonight—Denver owns selections in both rounds (58th and 90th).
In addition to Te'o and Lacy, a few other top candidates still on the board include LSU's Kevin Minter (ILB), Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (CB), Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (CB), LSU’s Sam Montgomery (DE), and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell (RB).
Bell is an ideal mid-round prospect that the Broncos will likely target with their 90th pick. The draft will kickoff again at 4:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network and ESPN. Rounds four-through-seven will be held on Saturday.