With Russell Wilson at quarterback the Denver Broncos find themselves in a Super Bowl window. What George Paton does over the remainder of the offseason will play a critical role in how the first year of the Wilson era goes. With significant questions looming over the roster and little cap space to work with, it looks as if the second year general manager will lean on the draft to address the remaining needs. It’s with all this in mind that I entered this mock offseason.
- Punter Sam Martin is released following the draft to create $2.25 million in additional cap space. The Broncos incur a $483,334 dead cap fit for the move.
- Cornerback Nate Hairston is signed to a one year contract worth the veteran minimum shortly before the draft.
I traded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the 64th pick in order to acquire the 91st and 248th picks in the ‘22 draft as well as a third and fourth round pick in 2023.
75. Marcus Jones - CB/RET - Houston
The sell: An elite athlete and game breaking returner who scored on nine kicks in college.
The rationale: Cornerback is currently the Broncos’ biggest need. Patrick Surtain II looks like he’ll become a top tier cover man and Ronald Darby is solid, but there’s no proven nickel on the roster. Jones is a diminutive corner with elite athletic ability who could be a game breaking returner from his first game in the league. He’s a scrappy fighter who will battle the big boys and has the lateral quickness and reactive athleticism to match and mirror with waterbug slot receivers. He could compete for slot snaps from day one and make Broncos Country love special teams again.
5’8” vs 6’3”— Country CROCK (@eric_crocker) December 4, 2021
That’s how you finish!!! Strong through the hands! Fought all the way through the ground. Great play by Houston corner Marcus Jones. pic.twitter.com/FdZ2Y3Dc3i
91. Rasheed Walker - OT - Penn State
The sell: A toolsy prospect who could become an impact starter if he hones his technique.
The rationale: Calvin Anderson and Tom Compton signed similar one year deals and look set to battle for the starting right tackle job in 2022. There is a distinct possibility neither is the long term answer, but having two veteran tackles under contract ensures a long runway for a rookie. Walker is someone who could benefit from such an approach because he’ll need to improve his technique, but there’s all the traits evaluators drool over. He’s 6’6 320 lbs. and displays the reactive athleticism to become a reliable pass protector in the NFL.
Tyler Smith & Rasheed Walker https://t.co/2UzgpyRoXl— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) March 2, 2022
96. Khalil Shakir - WR - Boise State
The sell: An inside/outside separator who can also contribute as a returner.
The rationale: Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy give Wilson one of the best receiving trios in the NFL. After that there’s some questions, as K.J. Hamler’s landed on Injured Reserve in each of his first two seasons in the league. Shakir is a hair under 6’ and a gas station burito under 200 lbs. He’s a dynamic route runner who can create space on all three levels with the reliable hands to make tough catches in tight moments. He can compete with Hamler for playing time from day one.
Moving on to Khalil Shakir (Boise State WR #2). Been having a monster season and makes highlight reel grabs every week.— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) October 14, 2021
This play is no different, makes a stellar move in his route, tracks the ball extremely well, and then lays out to make the catch! pic.twitter.com/ciNEmuYubG
115. Jeremy Ruckert - TE - Ohio State
The sell: A pro ready blocker and underrated receiver to grow into TE2.
The rationale: With Noah Fant a member of the Seattle Seahawks the Broncos have plenty of questions at tight end. Albert Okwuegbunam looks like the starter if he can stay healthy, while Eric Tomlinson was signed to back him up with his 18 career catches. Ruckert’s abilities as a pass catcher was often overshadowed by the Buckeyes loaded receiving corps, but he’s an adequate athlete with a good catch radius and soft hands.
Jeremy Ruckert handling George Karlaftis. Whew. pic.twitter.com/lwvmQECQzH— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 17, 2022
116. DeAngelo Malone - ED - Western Kentucky
The sell: A bendy edge with the twitch and flexibility to offer starting potential.
The rationale: Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb have combined to play one complete NFL season in their careers. There are long term questions about the depth behind them. Malone is a 6’3 243 lb. athlete who offers an enticing blend of lateral quickness, burst, ankle flexion, and competitive toughness. He’ll need to expand on his pass rush repertoire in the league, but the tools are there.
This is a tight turn from WKU EDGE DeAngelo Malone - the natural ability to dip+bend is my fav aspect of his game pic.twitter.com/Mo2y7DwpMv— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) March 13, 2022
145. Cam Jurgens - iOL - Nebraska
The sell: The day three Tyler Linderbaum.
The rationale: From afar, the interior of the Broncos line looks like a strength after Paton and predecessor John Elway invested significant resources into it, but dig into the tape and cracks begin to appear. Graham Glasgow took a pay cut to remain in orange and blue and Dalton Risner could become a cap casualty. Lloyd Cushenberry’s play strength casts doubt about his long term ceiling and Netane Muti’s length causes some matchup issues. Jurgens is a strong fit in the zone/duo run game Nathaniel Hackett plans to implement with the Broncos because of the he thrives on the second and third level. He has the athleticism, temperament, and play strength to potentially develop into a starter in time.
My favorite so far are Dohnovan West & Cam Jurgens https://t.co/oiDEE9YKeP— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) March 2, 2022
206. Matt Araiza - P - San Diego State
The sell: “The punt god.”
The rationale: Now that Russell Wilson is the Broncos quarterback they have to operate in a space where their allocating a significant portion of the salary cap to an elite quarterback contract. Corners will need to be cut and one way to create __ in cap space is by releasing Sam Martin. While I didn’t enter this offseason with that a priority, when Araiza fell to 206 it was too good to pass up. The Ray Guy award winner set a single season record with 79 punts for 4,044 yards. He finished the year with 18 punts of 60+ yard punts, including two for 80+.
San Diego State Punt God Matt Araiza has hit more 60+ yard punts in a single season than any punter in FBS history… here is number 15!!— Rich Ohrnberger (@ohrnberger) November 7, 2021
Dude has a quad cannon, a calf catapult, a metatarsal mortar tube, a femoral flamethrower, a damn patella pistol.
232. Jack Coan - QB - Notre Dame
The sell: A pocket passer with the arm talent to fit in a vertical passing attack.
The rationale: Brett Rypien and Josh Johnson look set to compete to backup Russell Wilson, but it’d behoove Paton to find a long term QB2 on a rookie deal. Coan gives Nathaniel Hackett another QB who has the strength to drive the ball downfield. While he’s not going to convince anyone he’s a young Rus making plays out of structure, he’s shown the poise to hang tough as well as the phone booth quicks to manipulate space in the pocket.
Jack Coan is a QB prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 7.61 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 201 out of 837 QB from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/HCG4PChr2M #RAS pic.twitter.com/DEOh7BHU64— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 18, 2022
248. Spencer Burford - OL - UTSA
The sell: A toolsy athlete who started 45 games across three different positions.
The rationale: Offensive line is one of those position groups that is truly defined by its floor. Few lines make it through a full NFL season unscathed and limited roster spots means teams need players who can wear multiple hats. Burford is a 6’4 304 lb. guard/tackle prospect with the foot quickness, competitive toughness, and hands to become a valuable contributor in a zone/duo rushing game such as the Broncos’
What grade would you give this draft?
This poll is closed
A - Super Bowl or bust baby!
B - I like it. I think.
C - Eh
D - No one’s perfect.
F - You’re fired.