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ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Broncos selecting a running back in the first round of his mock draft 1.0

Tis the season!

Utah State vs Alabama Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

ESPN’s draft analyst Todd McShay has released his first mock draft of the season today and has the Broncos going with a surprising first-round pick. In his mock, he has the Denver Broncos selecting Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with their 24th overall selection in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Here is the reasoning McShay gave explaining why he gave the Broncos Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round of his mock draft.

24. Denver Broncos (via 9-4 SF/MIA)

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

This is a tough one. The defense is solid, Denver doesn’t really need another receiver, and Russell Wilson is locked in as the quarterback. I’d love to get the Broncos another offensive tackle, but there’s a decent drop-off in talent there after Broderick Jones. Gibbs is pretty intriguing, even for a three-win team. My 20th-ranked prospect, he’s elusive with burst in and out of cuts and is a very effective pass-catcher out of the backfield. Gibbs not only rushed for 850 yards so far this season but also caught 42 passes. He could make the sort of impact we see regularly from Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook. And while Javonte Williams will return after tearing his right knee’s ACL and LCL, it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be off that injury while entering the third season of his four-year rookie deal.

Here is a scouting report of running back Jahmyr Gibbs done by The Draft Network’s draft analyst, Keith Sanchez.

Pros: In his limited opportunities, Jahmyr Gibbs flashed to be a truly dynamic playmaker in all facets of the game: returning kicks, running the football, and catching passes out of the backfield. As a running back, Gibbs shows to have good vision and electric speed to get through holes and blow by defenders. Gibbs’ style is smooth and electric, but he does understand how to lower his pads and power through contact when need be. In the pass game, Gibbs has shown to be a reliable receiver that can be used in multiple ways. He can line up in the slot and run routes and be a mismatch for defenders. He can also come out of the backfield and run traditional routes and truly excels at catching the ball 10-plus yards down the field. Even in a tough situation at Georgia Tech, Gibbs showed to be a complete back and should thrive in this Alabama offense.

Cons: There aren’t many negative traits in Gibbs’ game—he should be used as a versatile offensive weapon and not just a traditional running back. Gibbs has a bit of an upright running style that can leave him susceptible to big hits from defenders. Gibbs has also shown to have high confidence in his ability to get the edges of defenders and will sometimes pass up an opportunity to cut the ball up into the defense. Gibbs knows he has the athleticism to make the big play and, at times, will try to force runs.

Now, while I am more open than most when it comes to first-round running backs, I do not think this would be a smart move for the Broncos. It has nothing to do with Gibbs talent because I really like his potential as a runner and pass catcher in the NFL. However, it just does not make much sense for the Broncos to go running back with their only pick in the first two rounds of the draft.

Yes, running back is a need. Javonte Williams suffered a major knee injury and Chase Edmonds is the only other back on the roster signed to a contract for next season. So, I will be pounding the table for them to address this position in the offseason, but not like this.

I know many of you will want the Broncos to address the offensive line, but most of the top offensive tackles, if not all of them, will likely be off the board by the time the Broncos are on the clock. There could be some good interior options available, but much like running back, those positions can be found in the middle and later rounds as well.

With how this board fell, the best options would be to add another pass rusher or cornerback. Neither are major needs for the Broncos, but you cannot really have enough of either of them. Trading back and collecting more picks would also be an option for the Broncos, but we have a lot of time between now and then to really discuss these scenarios.

At the end of the day, while I like the prospect selected here, I do not think it would be smart for the Broncos to take a running back here with their limited high-end draft picks.