Two Boise State products drafted on the final day

Denver selects Council's Matt Paradis; Bears pick up Charles Leno Jr.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comMay 11, 2014 

Former Boise State center Matt Paradis was prepared to walk on again.

This time, he didn't have to.

The Denver Broncos selected the former eight-man football standout at Council High in the sixth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Paradis thought he might fall into the pool of undrafted free agents before the Broncos took him with the 207th pick of the seven-round, 256-pick draft.

"It's pretty surreal," Paradis said. "I came from a really small town as a walk-on, and it's just kind of a situation you never think can happen and it happened. It's pretty amazing."

Paradis was one of two Broncos drafted Saturday and three taken in the three-day event (defensive end Demarcus Lawrence landed in the second round Friday).

Three-year starting offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. went to the Chicago Bears in the seventh round, at pick No. 246. He extended the Broncos' run of placing their full-time starting left tackles in the NFL - the string of Daryn Colledge, Ryan Clady, Nate Potter and Leno dates to the 2002 season opener - and gave the program two offensive linemen in the same draft for the first time in 40 years.

Leno started all 39 games the past three years and was the left tackle in 2012 and 2013. He was named an All-Mountain West first-teamer last season.

Bears General Manager Phil Emery drafted Leno to serve as the backup left tackle but plans to bring in undrafted free agents to compete with him.

"We really need a person that has left tackle experience that can provide a quality backup (option) at that position," Emery said. "So that's the roster spot that he'll compete for as our backup left tackle."

Paradis will step into a similar situation in Denver.

The Broncos have two other centers on the roster - nine-year veteran Will Montgomery and seven-year veteran Manny Ramirez. That gives Paradis, who likely will practice at guard, too, time to develop his game.

"I'm just going to work as hard as I can and do whatever role they want me to do and go from there," Paradis said.

Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway called Paradis "a smart, versatile player who was (the) leader (of the offensive line)" in a tweet announcing the pick.

Paradis impressed the Broncos on his only team visit during the pre-draft process. Coach John Fox mentioned that visit during the phone call to tell Paradis he was their pick.

"You did such a great job when you came in," Fox told him. "This is a great opportunity, and I know you've been waiting a long time for it."

Paradis grew up working on the family cattle ranch outside Council. He was a three-year varsity starter at Council High as a defensive tackle and offensive guard. He won a team state championship in football and an individual state title in the discus, and was named the 2007 Idaho Statesman 1A Player of the Year in football.

He joined the Broncos in January 2009 as a grayshirt walk-on defensive lineman and was named the Scout Defensive Player of the Year that fall. He moved to the offensive line in 2010 and was a key backup in 2011, making one start. He became the starting center in 2012.

Paradis was named to the All-Mountain West first team in 2012 and second team in 2013. He is the first Boise State walk-on drafted by the NFL since tailback Brock Forsey in 2003.

Paradis built his career - and completed a double major in finance and business economics - with intelligence and work ethic. Those same traits attracted the attention of the other Broncos.

"He did an outstanding job with the O-line coaches (on his visit)," Fox told "He is a guy we're excited to have and he gives us depth at the position."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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