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Mock Draft Monday - How can the Broncos keep up with the rest of the AFC West?

Russell Wilson began an arms race around the division. What can the capped out Broncos do to keep up?

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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.


Free Agency

  • Cornerback Nate Hairston is signed to a one year contract worth the veteran minimum shortly before the draft.

The Draft

I used The Pro Football Focus Mock Draft Machine for the following draft scenario.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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+.

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.

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

  • 8%
    A - Super Bowl or bust baby!
    (75 votes)
  • 46%
    B - I like it. I think.
    (434 votes)
  • 30%
    C - Eh
    (285 votes)
  • 7%
    D - No one’s perfect.
    (68 votes)
  • 6%
    F - You’re fired.
    (62 votes)
924 votes total Vote Now