What a difference a day makes. Those of us who freaked out when the Denver Broncos passed on Justin Fields in the first round had calmed down enough to evaluate the process a bit more. With that clarity in mind, we all really liked what the team did on Day 2.
Before we get the draft grades, let’s break down the very busy Friday evening the Broncos had.
- Denver traded picks with the Falcons to move up from 40th to 35th. The trade cost the Broncos their fourth round pick (No. 114) and gained the Falcons sixth round pick (No. 219).
- With the 35th overall selection, the Broncos took North Carolina running back Javonte Williams.
- Denver then traded down with the New York Giants from the 71st overall pick to the 76th overall pick. That move netted the Broncos an extra fifth round pick (No. 164) as well.
- They were not done there. From the 76th overall pick, the Broncos then traded back 22 spots with the New Orleans Saints to snag an extra third rounder getting both the 98th overall and 105th overall selections in return.
- With the 98th overall selection, the Broncos picked up an interior lineman in Quinn Meinerz out of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
- To close out the third round, the Broncos drafted Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning with the 105th and final pick of Day 2.
It was quite an eventful night for those of us furiously trying to keep up with all of this movement. I figure there will be quite a bit more of this tomorrow as General Manager George Paton said after the conclusion of the third round, “I’m a little disappointed that we don’t have a fourth-round pick but we have six from rounds five through seven.”
That could indicate a few more moves might be made early Saturday when the final day of the draft kicks off.
Here are the draft grades we at Mile High Report gave Paton and the Broncos for their efforts during Day 2.
A+: Denver checked every single box I had for Day 2, which is amazing because I had three boxes to check with just two picks to start with. I had running back, offensive line, and linebacker as my three positions of need. They checked the first one by trading up five spots to get Javonte Williams, then Paton strategically maneuvered Denver in position to have two late third round pick that he was able to turn into Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning. Not only that, he was able to expand the Broncos Day 3 picks to six total picks. I left last night very impressed by it all.
A+: Javonte Williams is and will be a stud. Paton fleeced the Saints. Added a mountain man along the OL and Baron Browning who will be a stud under Vic Fangio.
Ian St. Clair
A+: I love the Williams pick. What Josina Anderson tweeted about him ... holy smokes. Adding a versatile linebacker for Fangio should be a lot of fun. But how do you not love “The Gut?” I was hard on Paton for the Patrick Surtain II pick, but that wasn’t over the pick, per se. Cooler heads may have prevailed (I’m still chapped about the quarterback position, but there is still hope for a certain guy in Green Bay). Paton is having a helluva Draft. “Let the belly breathe.”
NFL team source just now to me on @UNC RB Javonte Williams: "He's the best RB in the Draft. He has the ability to be a 1000y rusher & receiver like @CMC_22. He's as physical as @NickChubb21, as gifted as @A_kamara6 on 3rd down and as patient as @LeVeonBell. He is the MF truth."— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) April 30, 2021
Javonte “Pookie” Williams: A
Williams’ been my top running back since January because I think he’s a perfect fit for a Broncos’ blocking scheme that mixes a ton of Power, Counter, and Pin-and-Pull with Inside Zone. He has elite contact balance, good hands, and the necessary appetite for violence to become a true 4-down running back.
Quinn Meinerz: Incomplete
I didn’t have access to Wisconsin White-Water film during the pre-draft process so all my thoughts on Meinerz comes from studying reports from and speaking with offensive line evaluators I trust. I expect him to push Lloyd Cushenberry for playing time early in his career.
Baron Browning: A+
Much like Williams, I’ve had Browning near the top of my linebacker board since January. Physically, he’s everything you could dream of from a linebacker prospect with the athleticism, length, and strength to become a Hall of Famer. It’s up to Fangio to help him reach it.
George Paton: A-
Remember when Paton declined Kareem Jackson’s team option and gambled on the safety market? His approach to trading around on day two felt a lot like that. Taking the prospect away from the process, I really hated trading away an early Day 3 pick to get a running back when there are bigger holes on the Broncos’ roster. In the end, it worked out as the Broncos slid off 71 and still came away with two prospects that offer immediate starting upside as well as extra darts for Day 3:
Maybe this Paton guy knows what he’s doing.
I’m really liking Paton’s day 2. Williams gives us both depth/committee to run with Gordon and a bright future at RB. That selection also serves to round out what has the potential to be one of the most explosive skill position groups in the NFL. And the trade price wasn’t absurd. A+
The Meinerz pick puzzled me at first. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Denver now has the deepest G group in the NFL. But the real intrigue is in Meinerz’s potential to push or even replace Cushenberry at C if the 2nd year man out of LSU doesn’t take a 2nd year jump. Still, it might have been nice to see a guy with more immediate impact potential at this spot. B
I LOVE the Browning pick here, though I can’t help but question why a guy oozing this much physical talent fell to the final pick of the 3rd round. Regardless, Browning landed with the perfect coach to maximize his abilities and development. If he’s willing to put in the work on the practice field & in the classroom, Vic Fangio can turn a guy like this into an absolute stud haunting the 2nd level of the defense. A+
How would grade Day 2 for Denver here, Broncos Country?
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