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Be the GM: Broncos 2022 Vote Mock 1.0

Who should the Denver Broncos draft in 2022?

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As the calendar turns towards the snowy months, it becomes hard to overlook how we’re just past the halfway mark of the NFL season. At 5-4 the Broncos remain alive the playoff chase, but that doesn’t mean George Paton can slack on his early draft prep, and he isn’t. He’s using his time to scout the 2022 quarterback class. The first year general manager sent five different evaluators to Mississippi last weekend to scout Liberty’s Malik Willis play against Matt Corral and Ole Miss, and he traveled to Pittsburgh to catch the Panthers game against the Tarheels on Thursday.

Outside of the obvious need for a franchise quarterback, the Broncos 2022 needs remain murky. Roughly a third of this year’s roster is playing on expiring contracts, including core contributors such as:

  • WR Courtland Sutton
  • WR Tim Patrick
  • RB Melvin Gordon
  • RT Bobby Massie
  • ED Malik Reed
  • S Kareem Jackson
  • CB Kyle Fuller
  • LB Kenny Young
  • QB Teddy Bridgewater

In addition to the names above, the Broncos will have to make decisions on injured players who will be free agents in 2022 such as linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson, as well as cornerback Bryce Callahan. Their absences gives Paton and the rest of the front office a chance to evaluate replacements over the remaining eight games.

With so many questions looming over the direction of the franchise, I thought it’d be fun to take a stab at a very early first round mock draft to see where Broncos’ Country lands on Denver’s biggest needs.

A quick heads up, the draft order is set as if the season ended today.If you’re unfamiliar with the format, it’s the same as last year’s Vote Mocks: I’ll set the table with the selections up until the Broncos’ pick. From there, you decide what George Paton should do.

Let’s get started.

1. Detroit Lions - ED, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Ideally, the Lions would be rewarded for their efforts to secure the worst record in football with a franchise quarterback. Throughout the offseason leading up to the 2021 campaign there was faith that Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattle would play his way into the top spot of what most considered a weak QB crop. Instead, the sophomore passer played his way to the bench and no other signal caller has taken the kind of Zach Wilson or Joe Burrow-esque leap this class desperately needed. At present, it looks like a huge reach to take any passer in the top five of the draft.

2. Houston Texans - S, Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Nick Caserio currently oversees what’s arguably the weakest roster in football, so the Texans could go any number of directions with this pick. With no appealing option to replace Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, and Davis Mills this high in the order, Houston elects instead to shirk positional value altogether and chase the best player available. At 6’4 and 220 lbs. with game changing athleticism, Kyle Hamilton offers the skillset to develop into an elite difference maker on the second and third levels of a defense.

3. New York Jets - OT, Evan Neal, Alabama

Like Houston, the Jets have the holes and cap space to go in any number of directions with this pick. After taking Zach Wilson ahead of Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones in 2021, I suspect there will be a pressing urge to do what it takes to support him with another foundational offensive piece. Evan Neal offers left/right versatility which makes him an ideal addition to a line that features two first round picks on the left side in Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, and he has the power and quickness to dominate in Mike LeFleur’s offense.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - OT, Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

Early mock drafts are an exercise in what I like to call “best-guesswork” and few teams look as unpredictable as the Jags right now. There’s been rampant speculation Urban Meyer wouldn’t lost the 2021 season since the week leading up to their week two contest with the Broncos, and with more than $60 million in cap space they have the kind of wiggle room to aggressively overhaul their roster in free agency next spring. Their needs could change drastically over the coming months.

We do know Trevor Lawrence will be back barring something completely insane, and it’d make a ton of sense to give him help. Enter the monstrous Ekwonu, who has the play strength, athleticism, and demeanor to develop into the best tackle from this class.

5. Washington Football Team - QB, Matt Corral, Ole Miss

If Dan Snyder’s willing to eat the dead money required to part ways with Williams Jackson III there’s a decent argument for LSU’s Derek Stingley here, as the Tiger looked like a future Hall of Famer his first two seasons in Baton Rouge. Failing that, it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see Washington shrug about the class and take the first passer off the board here. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s played in all of one game this season and Taylor Heinicke looks best served as a QB2. Matt Corral currently looks like the best signal caller in this class, but I’ll admit I’d have five different 2021 passers over him if you combined both crops.

T6. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA) - CB, Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Philly came into this season a capped out mess and their roster has rather obvious holes that are showing up in every game this season. Chief among them is their defense is extremely reliant on veterans who have already played their best football, usually a couple years ago. Stingley should help in that regard as he can quickly step into the starting lineup or Steven Nelson.

7. Philadelphia Eagles - ED, Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Assuming Jonathan Gannon does not take over for Vic Fangio as the Broncos head coach and that he is not fired from his post as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, the best way to make his defense remotely close to functional is provide him with pass rushers who can create without help. Enter Hutchinson, who has all the tools you look for as well as a diverse pass rush repertoire developed over years battling in the Big Ten.

8. New York Giants - OC, Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

The G-Men are another tough team to peg down because if they finish with yet another pick in the top 10 there’s close to no chance Dave Gettleman returns as general manager. Let’s assume for this exercise that he does, somehow. Taking a center at the top of the draft is exactly the kind of move he’d do to show all the nerds who the smartest man in the room is.

T9. New York Giants (from CHI) - ED, Travon Walker, Georgia

For an encore, Gettleman elects to address the Giants desperate need for pass rushers. Travon Walker gives him a freakish blend of length, strength, and dynamic athleticism to line up outside of Leonard Williams.

T10. Miami Dolphins (from SF) - ED, George Karlaftis, Purdue

There’s a decent chance Nick Caserio and the Houston Texans are making this selection if the Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross checks off on a Deshaun Watson trade after the Super Bowl. Barring that, Miami’s in an ideal spot to address any one of their many needs. Always desperate to make a splash, they grab the Hawkeye’s star edge rusher George Karlaftis in hopes that he can pair with Jaelen Phillips as a dominant duo for the next decade.

T11. New York Jets (from SEA) - WR, Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Jamison Crowder’s a free agent after the season and Denzel Mims has failed to deliver on the promise that made him a second round pick. To continue adding to the offensive supporting cast in hopes that it provides a boost to Zach Wilson in year two, Joe Douglas grabs the toolsy pass catcher out of Fayetteville. Burks has the kind of prototypical size you look for in an X-receiver and combines it with very good acceleration, perfect for shot plays deep downfield as well as making shaky passes look good.

12. Minnesota Vikings - CB, Roger McCreary, Auburn

The Vikings currently look like the floor for Walker, as they badly need some edge help and Mike Zimmer has a clear preference for defensive ends who have some size. With him off the board, they turn their attention to another pressing issue on the defense by taking McCreary. The Tiger’s ability to match and mirror will make him a cost-controlled replacement for Patrick Peterson.

13. Carolina Panthers - OG, Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Another team kicking themselves over the sorry state of the ‘22 QB crop, Matt Rhule’s Panthers loom as another team that could hand their first round pick to Houston if Deshaun Watson waives his no-trade clause for a move to Charlotte. Failing that, they could badly use an infusion of talent into their offensive line. A Green pick will lead to some skepticism from the analytics community because the numbers do not support taking a guard in the early first, but let’s be real: Rhule didn’t get here by listening to nerds.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (from IND) - QB, Malik Willis, Liberty

With their final first round pick, the Eagles take a swing on the most athletic quarterback prospect in the class. Nick Sirianni’s already got a year drawing up plays for Jalen Hurts, so the thinking goes he can find a way to lean into Willis’ strengths while he figures out the nuances of the position.

15. Vote! Who you would draft Broncos Country?

Poll

Who would you take at this pick?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    OT - Charles Cross - Mississippi State
    (101 votes)
  • 3%
    OT - Trevor Penning - Northern Iowa
    (48 votes)
  • 5%
    OT - Nicholas Petit-Frere - Ohio State
    (83 votes)
  • 9%
    DL - Jordan Davis - Georgia
    (144 votes)
  • 3%
    DL - DeMarvin Leal - Texas A&M
    (55 votes)
  • 10%
    LB - Nakobe Dean - Georgia
    (157 votes)
  • 0%
    WR - Jameson Williams - Alabama
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    WR - Garrett Wilson - Ohio State
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    WR - Chris Olave - Ohio State
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    CB - Kaiir Elam - Florida
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    CB - Ahmad Gardner - Cincinnati
    (7 votes)
  • 6%
    QB - Desmond Ridder - Cincinnati
    (98 votes)
  • 12%
    QB - Sam Howell - North Carolina
    (187 votes)
  • 24%
    QB - Kenny Pickett - Pittsburgh
    (367 votes)
  • 8%
    QB - Carson Strong - Nevada
    (133 votes)
  • 4%
    ED - David Ojabo - Michigan
    (62 votes)
  • 0%
    ED - Drake Jackson - USC
    (14 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (Please Comment)
    (24 votes)
1521 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos’ News

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NFL News

Kayvon Thibodeaux leads 2022 NFL Draft Top 50 rankings with offensive tackles and pass rushers well represented – The Athletic

PAYWALL: Now with a half-season worth of game film, it is time to update the NFL Draft board of the top 50 prospects.

NFL Draft Community Mailbag: Can Any Prospect Unseat Kayvon Thibodeaux as No. 1? | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

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Chandler Jones fined $10,300 for Freddie Joe Nunn T-shirt tribute - ProFootballTalk

Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones was fined $10,300 for lifting his jersey to display a T-shirt that paid tribute to the late Freddie Joe Nunn (pictured), after Jones broke Nunn’s franchise record for sacks on Sunday. In San Francisco, Jones picked up his 67th sack as a Cardinal, setting the new team record. Nunn died October 16, at the age of 59. He’d held the franchise record for 29 years. Several members of Nunn’s family reached out to Jones after the game to let him know how much the gesture meant.

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden files lawsuit vs. NFL, Commissioner Goodell

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Jon Gruden sues NFL, Roger Goodell for forcing Gruden’s resignation - ProFootballTalk

“When their initial salvo did not result in Gruden’s firing or resignation, Defendants ratcheted up the pressure by intimating that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired,” the lawsuit filed Thursday on Gruden’s behalf alleges. “They followed through with this threat by leaking another batch of documents to the New York Times for an October 11, 2021 article. On October 7, 2021, Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Raiders on a 10-year, $100-million contract. By October 11, 2021, he had been forced to resign.”

NFL calls Jon Gruden allegations “entirely meritless,” vows to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit - ProFootballTalk

“The allegations are entirely meritless and the NFL will vigorously defend against these claims,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement issued to PFT on Friday.

Packers anticipate Aaron Rodgers being cleared to play, starting Sunday - ProFootballTalk

“Yeah, but you know, a lot of things happen,” coach Matt LaFleur said Friday, via Zach Kruse of Packers Wire. “So just like we told Jordan, you have to be ready to go, and if that’s the route we’ll go, he’ll be ready.”

Von Miller limited in Friday’s practice - ProFootballTalk

“We’ve got to see,” defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said Friday. “He looked a lot better in walkthrough than he even did last week, and like he says, his common goal to me is ‘I feel better than I did yesterday.’ So I’m going to go with that same catchphrase.”