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Be the GM: Broncos 2022 Vote Mock 3.0

Who would you draft at 9th overall?

Denver Broncos First Round Draft Pick
Who should George Paton draft at 9 this year?

After a 7-10 finish to the 2021 season, the Denver Broncos have the ninth pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. As expected, a disappointing season means George Paton will hire a new coaching staff this offseason. Once that’s out of the way, he’ll need to figure out the best way to utilize their estimated $48 million in cap space, starting with decisions on which of the Broncos’ 32 free agents are worth retaining.

There’s a ton of uncertainty looming over every aspect of the Broncos. The good news is plenty of the other teams picking ahead of them in the draft order have chaos of their own to swim through. That makes what is normally an exercise in futility little more than an opportunity to learn about potential holes and prospects.

What follows is a mock draft scenario where I made picks for teams leading up to the Broncos’ selection, setting the table for you to vote on what Paton should do. This is the third version of the Broncos’ Vote Mock, and it’s’ the first with a real draft order. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett became a Bronco in the first scenario, Nevada’s Carson Strong in the second. The first two vote mocks suggest Broncos Country is ready to hit reset on the quarterback room after a year of Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater. Will it continue this time around?

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - OT, Evan Neal, Alabama

Undeniably a phenomenal prospect when he left the Clemson Tigers, Lawrence struggled with bouts of inaccuracy as well as anticipation his first year in the NFL. Of course, he was also caught in the muck of the Urban Meyer error surrounded by one of the weaker supporting casts in the league. The priority this offseason has to be ensuring the coaching staff, offensive line, and receiving corps. are good enough to evaluate the first overall pick of the 2021 draft next season.

Neal is a freakish athlete with the power to dominate at the point of attack as well as experience lining up and thriving at both tackle spots. His versatility would help to field the best five along the line in 2022, which can’t go overlooked when both tackles need replacing in the near future. The optics of taking another tackle from the Tide after Cam Robinson disappointed would be noteworthy, but it’s worth it to help Lawrence reach his potential.

2. Detroit Lions - ED, Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

The Lions will enter the second year of their most recent rebuild with four first round picks over the next two drafts because of the Matthew Stafford trade. There’s time and resources to pursue any quarterback willing to play in Motown, especially when Jared Goff’s $30.5 million dead cap hit means he’ll wear the Honolulu blue in 2022. This year’s QB crop is the weakest in recent memory, so it’d pay to pass on the position at the top of the draft.

With Neal a Jaguar and a desperate need for more juice on defense, the debate in Detroit should come down to two dynamic edge rushers. Born in Plymouth, Hutchinson is a Dearborn graduate and a tried and true Michigan man. On top of that he gives the Lions’ front an end who can win with power, bend, and burst.

3. Houston Texans - ED, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Deshaun Watson remains under investigation for sexual assault and misconduct, and his sworn deposition won’t occur before the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl quarterback remains adamant about a trade from Houston, and multiple reports suggest NFL teams are willing to meet the Texans demands for him if it becomes clear he’ll be able to play football again. A trade would provide general manager Nick Caserio multiple top 100 picks in this draft. In this scenario I’m not going to assume Watson can play again.

With Watson in limbo and no real options in free agency, the Texans take a bit of a leap of faith with Davis Mills, who didn’t look out of place in a starting lineup by the end of his rookie season. The top-rated quarterback recruit in 2017 who only made 11 starts for the Stanford Cardinal has shown flashes that suggest he could be a gem in the third round rough. At the very least, he deserves a shot to compete. That leaves space to take the best player on the board in Thibodeaux, a freaky speed rusher who’s drawn comparisons to Jevon Kearse.

4. New York Jets - OT, Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

Like the Jags, Gang Green should do everything in their power to eliminate any variables that could cast doubt on an Zach Wilson evaluation in 2022. The second pick of last year’s draft looked out of his element all year, making troubling mistakes throughout his first campaign. That means prioritizing offense with their $56.4 million in cap space and keeping an eye out for receivers and linemen in the draft.

They make a ton of sense for Evan Neal if he slides this far, and Icky’s not a bad consolation prize. He can replace Morgan Moses at right tackle, and pair with Mekhi Becton as the most physically imposing tandem in the league.

5. New York Giants - QB, Matt Corral, Ole Miss

It looks like Dave Gettleman will vacate his post as general manager, while Daniel Jones could be trade bait. The sixth overall pick of the 2019 draft serves as a warning against overdrafting a quarterback from a weak class. Even before you consider the issues with the coaching staff, Gettleman’s status and Jones’ performance means New York (or should I say New Jersey?) could go a hundred different ways with their two first round picks.

As I write this Joe Judge looks set to return for a third season, which seems insane after the way he closed the second. New York averaged less than 10 points a game across their last eight games, seven of them losses.

In this scenario Judge is retained with a new general manager he has a say in hiring, which inevitably leads to a reset on the Giants rebuild. Nothing helps job security quite like hiding behind a predecessors mistakes, after all. Corral’s adjustment to the NFL could be bumpy after playing in Lane Kiffin’s offense, everybody wants to be patient with rookie quarterbacks around.

6. Carolina Panthers - QB, Kenny Pickett, Pitt

Like the Giants, Carolina looks as if they’re set to embark on a third year with a coach who’s in over his head. This comes only a week after reports surfaced that owner Dave Tepper regrets poaching Matt Rhule from the Giants, which only adds to to the dysfunction. Sam Darnold’s $18.85 million cap number does not look like it will prevent the Panthers from aggressively pursuing Deshaun Watson this offseason, but if Watson remains in limbo through the draft Rhule probably grows desperate for hope under center.

T.7. New York Giants (from CHI) - ED, David Ojabo, Michigan

The Giants have James Bradberry and Eli Apple starting at corner and locked up their safety tandem through 2023. which casts some doubt about Kyle Hamilton’s fit. They do have a pressing need to improve the pass rush, and I suspect Ojabo will see his draft stock soar through the pre-draft process. A stupendous athlete who started playing football at 17-years-old, the Wolverine’s potential is intoxicating.

8. Atlanta Falcons - QB, Sam Howell, North Carolina

The triumvirate of Arthur Blank, Terry Fontenot, and Arthur Smith elected to pass on Justin Fields and Mac Jones in their first draft together, a decision that could haunt over their tenure. It’s not as if Kyle Pitts had a bad season, the fourth pick of the 2022 draft broke the 1000-yard mark and flashed incredible upside. The problem is Matt Ryan also showed clear signs of decline and carries a $48.66 million cap number in 2022, a number that looks untenable for the cap-strapped Falcons.

If Atlanta does find a way to move on from their franchise quarterback it will create a vacuum at the position. The draft provides the most cost efficient solution to the problem, and Howell’s got the tools to fit in Smith’s offense.

9. Who should George Paton draft, Broncos Country?

Poll

Who should the Broncos draft?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    S - Kyle Hamilton - Notre Dame
    (278 votes)
  • 0%
    S - Jaquan Brisker - Penn State
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    S - Daxton Hill - Michigan
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    CB - Derek Stingley Jr. - LSU
    (283 votes)
  • 0%
    CB - Andrew Booth Jr. - Clemson
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    CB - Sauce Gardner - Cincinnati
    (24 votes)
  • 7%
    ED - George Karlaftis - Purdue
    (217 votes)
  • 3%
    ED - Travon Walker - Georgia
    (89 votes)
  • 0%
    ED - Jermaine Johnson - Florida State
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    DL - Jordan Davis - Georgia
    (143 votes)
  • 0%
    DL - DeMarvin Leal - Texas A&M
    (27 votes)
  • 8%
    OT - Charles Cross - Mississippi State
    (245 votes)
  • 2%
    OT - Trevor Penning - Northern Iowa
    (70 votes)
  • 2%
    OT - Nicholas Petit-Frere - Ohio State
    (78 votes)
  • 10%
    LB - Nakobe Dean - Georgia
    (302 votes)
  • 5%
    LB - Devin Lloyd - Utah
    (165 votes)
  • 0%
    OG - Kenyon Green - Texas A&M
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    OC - Tyler Linderbaum - Iowa
    (107 votes)
  • 0%
    RB - Kenneth Walker III
    (8 votes)
  • 8%
    QB - Carson Strong - Nevada
    (250 votes)
  • 9%
    QB - Malik Willis - Liberty
    (277 votes)
  • 5%
    QB - Desmond Ridder - Cincinnati
    (151 votes)
  • 2%
    Other (Please Comment)
    (72 votes)
2838 votes total Vote Now