While Nathaniel Hackett, Russell Wilson, and the rest of the new members of the team are getting to know each other at OTAs this week, George Paton’s scouting department is deep in the weeds to iron out which rookies should join them. The clock is ticking. There are less than three weeks before the Denver Broncos make their first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Last week’s Mock Draft Monday was a little different than previous editions. I took the opportunity to try and sort out who could actually be available when the Broncos pick using a consensus board. This week I’m keeping an eye on the consensus board as we work through the scenario presented by The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine (using their player rankings). I went into this draft without considering my four guiding principles because I do not necessarily believe George Paton will follow them. My goal for this mock was to simply grab good football players who could stick around, which is easier said than done.
Looking over @Jason_OTC's draft/$ study from 2019— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) April 7, 2022
Only 27.4% of 2nd rounders remained on the team that drafted them after 4 years.
21.6% of third rounders
16.0% of fourth rounders
14.0% of fifth rounders
13.5% of sixth rounders
4.0% of seven roundershttps://t.co/ewDz8qRXBZ
64. Kenneth Walker III - RB - Michigan State
The sell: Pairs with Pookie to gives Russell Wilson a dynamic duo in the backfield.
The rationale: Javonte Williams was electric as a rookie, but his production fell off after a knee injury in December. Given the wear and tear a running back suffers over a 17+ game campaign, it makes sense to add talent to the stable. Walker transferred to East Lansing and quickly established himself as arguably the best back in college football in 2021. Like Williams, he offers an exciting combination of very good athleticism with elite contact balance. Opponents are more likely to use two high coverages now that Russell Wilson’s under center, and a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield could ensure they suffer for it.
Kenneth Walker's 1,168 yards after contact this season were the most by a P5 RB since 2019 pic.twitter.com/90uaWg0hrS— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 4, 2022
75. Sam Howell - QB - North Carolina
The sell: Russell Wilson’s Brock Osweiler.
The rationale: In trading for Wilson, George Paton has presumably solved the Broncos’ need for a franchise QB. Depth behind him is a question mark, however. Josh Johnson is a 35-year-old journeyman who has gone 1-8 in his career starts and Brett Rypien lacks the physical traits to thrive in an offense catered to Wilson’s skillset. Howell combines good athleticism for the position with better than average arm talent, and he’s an underrated deep passer. He’ll need to improve his poise and footwork to make it as a starter, but projects as a solid number two in Nathaniel Hackett’s new offense.
This one against Duke in 2019 is one of my favourite throws of Sam Howell's career at UNC.— Luca Sartirana (@SartiranaLuca) April 5, 2022
Pin-point ball placement on a 30-yard outside the numbers throw. Howell's arm talent is definitely not an issue to me. pic.twitter.com/srgargErgR
96. Cole Strange - iOL - Chattanooga
The sell: A developmental starter who can back up the whole interior.
The rationale: A new coaching staff means changes loom for the Broncos’ offensive line, where Dalton Risner is set to play on an expiring rookie contract and Graham Glasgow agreed to a pay cut. Strange is a former defensive end who became a five-year starter along the line despite no previous experience. He’ll need to improve his use of hands to succeed in the league, but has the grip strength and athletic traits to compete for playing time early. Long term he projects as a starting caliber guard or center.
It’s fun watching the small school guys go down to Mobile and produce. Chattanooga center Cole Strange has done that this week. pic.twitter.com/cfv0qQqFfI— Joey Richards (@JRDrafts) February 4, 2022
115. Rasheed Walker - OT - Penn State
The sell: It’s time to draft an offensive tackle for the first time since 2017.
The rationale: Garett Bolles turns 30 in May while Tom Compton, Billy Turner, and Cavin Anderson all signed one-year deals to compete for the right tackle job. Needless to say, there are long term questions at the position. Walker is someone I’ve drafted a lot in these mocks, in part because the various Machines don’t place the same value on him that draft analysts such as Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn, the Athletic’s Dane Brugler or Sports Info Solutions Chad Tedder do. There’s a decent chance he goes higher than this, as the league is starved for tackles. Walker’s got all the traits to develop into a starting caliber tackle if he can improve his consistency. He could also serve as a potential pinch hitter at guard.
116. Darrian Beavers - LB - Cincinnati
The sell: A core special teamer and developmental Mike backer.
The rationale: With news that Baron Browning is sliding outside, it looks like the Broncos created a need for themselves at off ball linebacker. Josey Jewell signed a two year contract to lock down one spot, while Jonas Griffith is set to compete with Alex Singleton for the other. Beavers is a former wide receiver and safety who was a reliable part of the Bearcats pressure packages last year. He’s a very heady player who does a good job leveraging his gaps and chasing the ball down. He should be able to contribute as a sub rusher and special teamer whether he wins a starting job or not.
Fun fact: Darrian Beavers spent time at safety, linebacker, and defensive end during his collegiate career. pic.twitter.com/uszQCAuKB8— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) April 8, 2022
145. Kingsley Enagbare - ED - South Carolina
The sell: A long armed rusher who can contribute snaps early.
The rationale: Following the Von Miller trade last November the Broncos’ pass rush fell off a cliff. Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb have one 16+ game season between them and Malik Reed is free agent after the season. Medicals as well as a lack of twitch and bend could hurt Enagbare’s draft stock and limit his NFL ceiling as a pass rusher, but he represents good value this late with an average draft position (ADP) of 77. He knows how to use his 34” arms to create pressure on the quarterback and has the frame and play strength to hold up through contact.
Jab/swipe/longarm/swim to hit the QB and help force an INT by Kingsley Enagbare here. pic.twitter.com/YBWFDI3KZJ— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) March 30, 2022
206. Derion Kendrick - ED - South Carolina
The sell: A low-risk, high-upside swing on a corner with starting upside.
The rationale: Every corner on the Broncos’ roster missed time to injury during the 2021 campaign, with all but K’Waun Williams landing on Injured Reserve (IR) or the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Kendrick is a former five star receiver who became one of the best corners in college football at Clemson before multiple suspensions led to his dismissal from the program. He led the national champion Bulldogs in interceptions and received praise for his practice habits last season. He has the talent to develop into Ejiro Evero’s starting nickel.
Derion Kendrick started at Clemson as a WR— Jake Sirkus (@JakeSirkus) January 8, 2021
Here’s him beating Patrick Surtain in 2018
232. Eric Johnson - DL - Missouri State
The sell: A developmental gap shooter who can play five technique.
The rationale: Following the trade for Wilson Denver has a Shelby Harris sized hole in the defensive line. While DJ Jones gives the front a talented nose tackle, he lacks the length to win consistently at five technique. Meanwhile McTelvin Agim’s played less than 300 snaps since he was drafted in the third round of the 2020 draft, and DeShawn Williams is playing on a deal that expires in 2023. Johnson is a five year starter from an FCS school who didn’t get a Combine invite. That said, he has rare athleticism and caught the eye of scouts in the pre-draft bowl season.
Packers on the list of teams hosting Missouri State IDL Eric Johnson— Paul Bretl (@Paul_Bretl) April 7, 2022
6’4” | 299 | 9.15 RAS
1,718 career snps | 1,129 last 2 yrs
2020-21: 45 PR | 4 sks | 48 stops (PFF)
240 snaps in A-gap | 1,163 in B-gap
86.7 PFF run defense grade in 2021 https://t.co/KaHzEogVBz pic.twitter.com/mTBXrjgbst
What grade do you give this draft?
This poll is closed
A - Build that Paton statue!
B - I dig it.
C - Meh.
D - Gross.
F - If I squint really hard it looks better, but then my eyes are closed.