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Is it playoffs or bust for the Broncos in year one of the Russell Wilson era?

Bucs Reports’ JT Olson, Joe Mahoney, and Joe Rowles discuss on this week’s Cover 2 Broncos

The Denver Broncos are in the middle of OTAs and we’re a little over two weeks away from the 2022 NFL Draft, which means there’s plenty to talk about on this week’s Cover 2 Broncos. To break it all down I spoke with Mile High Report’s Joe Mahoney and Buc Report’s J.T. Olson. What follows is a short overview of the topics we discussed.

Self Scout

The Broncos have right around $10 M in cap space before we consider the rookie pool and the “rainy day” fund teams reserve to account for injuries, which means the major FA moves are over barring some restructures, releases, or a Russell Wilson extension. Additionally, the Broncos pick so late in the 2022 draft that it doesn’t seem realistic to expect a major contributor from the upcoming draft, barring injury.

  • With that in mind, what sticks out as potential problem spots on the current roster?
  • How concerning are they on a scale of 1-10?
  • Where do the Broncos currently stack up in the AFC West?
  • Do the Broncos need to make the playoffs to have a successful 2022?
  • Does this roster look like a Super Bowl contender?
Broncos projected depth chart

The Draft

  • What is a reasonable expectation for the Broncos’ draft picks?
  • If he has to choose, should Paton chase early impact or long term development at critical positions?
  • Who stands out as an intriguing fit at tackle, linebacker, running back, and corner in this class?

NFL teams use their draft visits for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s to create the illusion that a team is interested, sometimes it’s to vet a player in person, sometimes it’s to meet them and sort out any lingering questions regarding medical, play, etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean a team is dead set on the prospect.

With that said, as I write this we know 22 of the Broncos 30 “official” visits:

  • 7 OL
  • 4 DB
  • 3 RB
  • 2 ED
  • 2 FB/TE
  • 2 WR
  • 1 lacrosse player.
  • 2LB/DB

The 22 prospects we know the Broncos have visited with so far, along with their average draft position (ADP) on Marcus Mosher’s consensus draft board:

  • OT Tyler Smith - ADP - 59.7
  • iOL Dylan Parham - ADP - 72
  • iOL Cole Strange - ADP - 78.4
  • OT Abraham Lucas - ADP - 91.7
  • ED - Isaiah Thomas - ADP - 99
  • ED - DeAngelo Malone - ADP - 102.2
  • iOL Cam Jurgens - ADP - 106.5
  • RB - James Cook - ADP - 107.5
  • CB Cordale Flott - ADP - 109
  • QB/WR - D’Eriq King - ADP - 115
  • DB Nick Grant - ADP - 116
  • OT - Matt Waletzko - ADP - 118

Outside top 150 on consensus board

  • RB - Isaih Pacheco
  • TE - Cole Turner
  • Lacrosse/QB/WR - Jared Benhardt
  • WR - Tyquan Thornton
  • DB - Ja’Quan McMillan
  • OT - Braxton Jones
  • FB/TE - Chigoziem Okonkwo
  • RB - Shermari Jones
  • LB/S - Tariq Carpenter
  • DB - DaRon Bland

A couple trends:

  • 12 of the 20 ranked among Marcus Mosher’s top 150 prospects, including all of the edge rushers and all but one OL and one DB
  • The OL are all ideal fits in a zone blocking scheme, which makes sense

A few things to keep in mind from Paton’s 2007-2020 run with the Minnesota Vikings

  • The Vikings used more picks in rounds 1-3 on cornerback than any other position group.
  • Athletic testing numbers didn’t scare the Vikings off defensive back prospects they liked.
  • Minnesota spent two picks in the first three rounds on off ball linebackers, but 11 day three draft picks on linebackers.
  • They drafted 11 defensive ends, but none in the first two rounds. There were two drafted in the third round: Scott Crichton and Danielle Hunter.
  • They grabbed eight day three defensive tackles.
  • They threw more darts at the board for wide receiver than any other position group
  • Minnesota appear to have prioritized athletic testing for offensive tackles taken on the first two days of the draft. They took four during Paton’s time in the front office.
  • Fun fact: the Vikings drafted more running backs on the first two days than the third.

The Broncos picking at 64 means there isn’t much reason for subterfuge this year. They pick behind all but 4 teams in the upcoming draft, most teams have two picks before Paton picks once.

Quick look at the last 10 picks at 64:

  • 2021: Kyle Trask - QB - Bucs
  • 2020: Jeremy Chinn - S - Panthers
  • 2019: D.K. Metcalf - WR - Seahawks
  • 2018: Tyquan Lewis - DE - Colts
  • 2017: Taylor Moton - OL - Panthers
  • 2016: Kevin Byard - S - Titans
  • 2015: Jordan Richards - S - Patriots
  • 2014: Justin Britt - T - Seahawks
  • 2013: Dwayne Gratz - DB - Jaguars
  • 2012: Dwayne Allen - TE - Colts

What should the Broncos should do in the draft?

  • Trade up?
  • Trade down?
  • Stick with their picks?
  • What positions/players should they chase?