With the 28th pick in the NFL draft, the real choice the Broncos must make is: Should the lone mind-set be getting quarterback Peyton Manning a championship ring?

And the answer is: No.

Free agency was big money spent in the name of a 37-year-old quarterback's Super Bowl dreams. From slot receiver Wes Welker to offensive guard Louis Vasquez, the gifts to Manning were big and generous.

The draft's primary purpose has to be planning for the time when Manning is long gone from Denver.

"My philosophy in the first round: We want to find guys that are going to be 10-year guys, that are going to be good football players for the Denver Broncos for a long time," John Elway said.

So here's the honest deal: While the Broncos will undoubtedly look for rookies who can help Manning win a ring, the higher priority should be finding the player who can eventually make 34-year-old cornerback Champ Bailey expendable.

"When my time runs out, I'll run away from it," said Bailey, amazingly pragmatic about his football mortality. "But until then, I'm going to still be here."

Unless a tough decision slaps Elway in the face, the first round should be about finding a cornerback or a safety.

Elway the quarterback never blinked. He came straight at the defense with the strongest arm in the game.

Elway the executive walks with the same swagger. He seldom bluffs.

As the clock winds down toward the draft, when NFL executives are five times more likely to tell a lie than the truth, Elway seems remarkably honest.

So I tend to believe Elway when he lauded the available rookie talent in the secondary, saying: "It's a big class. There are a lot of good players at safety and corner. There are plenty of guys who are going to be good football players, and a lot of opportunity in this league. It's a big class."