Denver Broncos draft Wisconsin RB Montee Ball

  • By Associated Press
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Running back Montee Ball spent his college career shoving aside Barry Sanders, Ricky Williams and Ron Dayne in the record books. The runner Ball will pursue in the NFL: One-time Denver star Terrell Davis -- and the Broncos couldn't be happier about it.

Denver used its second-round draft pick Friday to take Ball, the 5-foot-10, 217-pound bruiser out of Wisconsin who patterned his running style after Davis, the former Broncos great who led the franchise to its two Super Bowl titles.

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"I've watched Terrell Davis -- all his interviews, all his highlights, everything," said Ball, who described himself as a lifetime Broncos fan and even has a wooden Bronco head hung up on the wall of his apartment. "I grew up watching him a little bit. It's really crazy right now."

In the third round, the Broncos selected South Florida cornerback Kayvon Webster, a speedy cover man who gets to learn under Champ Bailey and might someday replace him.

"I love Champ," Webster said.

Ball, meanwhile, adds to Peyton Manning's growing group of playmakers on offense. Both coach John Fox and executive vice president John Elway described him as an every-down back who, as a second-round pick, is expected to compete for a starting job.

Ball rewrote record books in both the Big Ten and Division I during his four years with the Badgers. He broke the touchdown record once held by Williams, finishing with 83 overall and 77 rushing.

Ball's 39 touchdowns in 2011 matched the single-season mark held by Sanders. Ball also left Dayne, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Wisconsin, in the dust. Dayne's 63 scores had been the Wisconsin record before Ball came along.

Ball's numbers as a senior were down from the year before, possibly in part because he suffered a concussion when he was jumped by several men Aug. 1 while he was walking home. That may have sent his draft stock downward, as well, but the Broncos chose him over Alabama's Eddie Lacy with the 58th pick, even though Lacy was rated 20 to 30 spots higher by many of the draft experts.

Lacy, who had dealt with a toe injury during his college career, went three spots later to Green Bay.

"It was a close call, no question," Elway said. "You're talking about two great backs. The bottom line is, we looked at the medical. It came down to the medical side."

Both Elway and Fox said they were in the market for a big back. They got Ball, whose 5,140 career yards are also a Division I record, and now, the question is whether Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno or both have seen their last work in a Broncos uniform.

"I think we'll get through the draft, sit down, look at the offensive board and see what we're going to do there," Elway said.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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