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Football: Broncos choose Bruton in fourth round of NFL draft

Bill Brink | Monday, April 27, 2009

David Bruton, the playmaker of the Notre Dame secondary, is heading west.

The Denver Broncos took Bruton, a former safety for the Irish, in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft Sunday. Bruton was the 14th pick in the fourth round and the 114th overall selection.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the Broncos, it’s a good organization,” Bruton said. “The coaching staff, when I was (in Denver), was great. The whole atmosphere of Denver was a great time being out there, even though it was a quick turnaround.”

Bruton started 24 of 25 games in the 2007 and 2008 seasons. His 97 tackles were good for second on the team in 2008. Bruton had seven career interceptions and three fumble recoveries and was a captain his senior season.

Bruton also played a large role as a gunner on special teams, a role he will see often early in his NFL career.

“I always try to put my best foot forward. I enjoy playing special teams,” he said. “I enjoy always coming out ready to work, and I feel Notre Dame continued to prepare me throughout my four years to overcome a lot of adversity.”

Bruton ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL Combine, sixth-best among defensive backs.

“He’s got great speed. I think he’s the fastest safety in the draft,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said in a press conference. “He could really impact us on three or four teams; punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return. I think he’s blocked a kick or two in his career, or certainly has the capability to do that. He’s got great range in the deep part of the field as a safety also.”

He also has a 41-inch vertical leap.

“The leaping ability comes from my Mom’s side of the family, track athletes,” Bruton said. “It translates on the field as in being able to high-point the ball going against the taller receivers. It helps give me an advantage on the ball, on a fade route or something.”

Bruton said he isn’t concerned about his role on the team.

“I’ll play wherever I earn my spot at, potentially special teams if not on all four units, and then work myself into the safety rotation and give them valuable reps,” he said.

McDaniels praised Bruton’s special-teams ability in a press conference after the draft.

“He’s one of the finest special teams players in the draft, period,” McDaniels said. “He was a great gunner for the punt team, getting down there and getting to the returner before the ball was caught, many times forcing a lot of fair catches.”

The Broncos recently hired McDaniels, who served as the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick, after firing former coach Mike Shanahan.

Five other former Irish players, although not drafted, have signed as free agents with NFL teams, Notre Dame’s sports information department said. Receiver David Grimes also signed with the Broncos, defensive lineman Pat Kuntz signed with the Indianapolis Colts and defensive back Terrail Lambert signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Both fullback Asaph Schwapp and offensive tackle Mike Turkovich signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Defensive end Justin Brown and linebacker Maurice Crum Jr. were expected to finalize their plans late Sunday night, the sports information department said.