The Denver Broncos have made waves this offseason by being arguably the most active team in what was the most volatile free agency streak in NFL history (including the number of monstrous trades that took place). While the amount of cap space the Broncos have left is fluid and could be easily manipulated by restructuring a few contracts here and there, Denver is likely done with splash moves ahead of the NFL Draft.
Barring a surprise trade, Broncos Country’s eyes should start to turn to April and the 2022 draft. general manager George Paton, the team still has three top-100 selections and five top-120 selections.
If last year’s draft class is any indication, fans can expect Paton and the scouting staff to identify some key contributors in the draft that the Broncos can select from that lineup. The Broncos are unlikely to sit back and stay true to their current selection given Paton’s propensity to move around the board, but the question now becomes: what position will Denver target with its first draft selection, and is there Are there any specific perspectives the team could focus on at the
Focus on professional football‘ draft-centric podcast Tailgate is hosted by Austin Gayle and Mike Renner and this week they discussed the direction the Broncos can and should go in one of their final episodes. Gayle discussed Denver’s early need to enter free agency as bolstered somewhat by the addition of rusher Randy Gregory.
“Denver Broncos, you listed their position of need as a point defenseman. They signed Randy Gregory to a five-year, $70 million deal. Not totally substantiate the need there. I still feel like you can add help to pass quickly… Their biggest need now turns to safety… Their first choice is not until choice 64. Maybe they are lock in a Kerby Joseph, Illinois…Jaquan Brisker, Penn State, Nick Cross, Maryland. ”
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This is a pretty deep security class. Perhaps at pick 64, the Broncos are also hoping Baylor’s Jalen Pitre falls on them, which would be fine for a team that wants to live in nickel-and-dime personnel as a more modern NFL defense.
Maybe Daxton Hill, Michigan is a name that could fall too. Less discussed but talented safety options in this class include Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook and Iowa Dane Belton.
A few former cornerback prospects, who were once cornerbacks but could move up to a nickel safety spot at the NFL level, include Tennessee’s Alontae Taylor, Auburn’s Roger McCreary and Houston’s Marcus Jones. The Broncos are reportedly interested in playing more dime personnel next season, so adding talent to the safe room is definitely an area the front office could and should look to.
In the AFC West, given the talent of the quarterback and pass catching, there is not too much defensive talent. However, could Denver still step into free agency to add another weapon for the defensive backfield?
Gayle thinks the Broncos should at least.
“Why not go get Tyrann Mathieu right away? He’s going to be very expensive and I get it…but I would really like to see them get Tyrann Mathieu to partner with Justin Simmons. That would be crazy.”
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Adding Mathieu to the Broncos’ secondary would certainly be “sick,” not just for his versatility, but for the narrative aspect of facing the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos could use some toughness on defense with Kareem Jackson still a free agent, and Mathieu would certainly add that along with supreme versatility for first-time defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero.
Renner pushed back, however, saying that while Denver might be looking to add a safety, there are already a few guys on the roster to consider as well, which could make Denver consider other positions.
“Really, we liked Jamar Johnson a lot coming out of last year, they got him in fifth. Caden Sterns, they got fifth. (if not safety) so I’m looking to linebacker as Alexander Johnson is still a free agent.Baron Browning flashed a lot in the second half of last year, but I wouldn’t say he’s ready to be a full-time starter just yet. So the linebacker in that deep class could be where they’re looking at 64. They could go offensive line. They could go a number of ways. I don’t think the Broncos really need to rank in one place. They could just add talent to this list really anywhere.
Ideally, going into the draft, a roster is so full without any massively gaping needs that the team can look at the entire draft board and just sit back and take good players. Going into the draft at any pick (aside from first overall) and saying “we have to draft position X” is a recipe for failure.
This becomes even more true the further you go in the draft. There are no sure things, so don’t limit your advice to a singular position. You increase your chances of drafting a bust or missing a top talent by doing so. It’s just a horrible process.
The Broncos could add an offensive tackle to grow and compete for the right tackle, or they could go for a tight end to help replace Noah Fant. Denver could honestly add talent to any defensive position at any point in the draft and that wouldn’t be a bad move for the team.
Paton should feel comfortable having maximum flexibility to fill out the roster. Any remaining holes can be patched with cheap, short-term free agent signings after the draft and closer to the season kickoff.
The Broncos may no longer have picks No. 9 and 40 overall, but after landing a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson and solving the rest of their most pressing and immediate needs, Paton and company can going almost every which way in the April draft.
This is a position that every team ideally wants to occupy, but not all formations offer the opportunity. With the flexibility that building the roster to date has given Paton, anyone can guess which direction the Broncos will go when they make their first official selection in the 2022 draft.
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