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Paton expresses pre-draft excitement: ‘This is the best time of the year, other than the season’

Just days away from the 2022 NFL Draft, GM George Paton enthused about being locked down and focusing on nothing but football.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett Press Conference John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2022 NFL Draft approaching, George Paton had plenty to say in the organization’s April 22 press conference, and every bit of it was sprinkled with enthusiasm for the week ahead.

“I’ve really enjoyed the draft process,” Paton noted in his opening statement, “It’s been great collaboration between Coach Hackett, the coaches, the scouts, and really, the entire organization...new staff and most of the coaches are new. We have them grinding on the draft with interviews, Zoom—you name it. They’ve been here late at night with early mornings.”

The coaching staff wasn’t the only group Paton thanked. He has a number of hands in the pot and, although he “can’t name everyone in the room,” he did mention a lot of people, including the medical staff; security; VP of Player Development Ray Jackson; Sr. VP of Operations Chip Conway; President/CEO Joe Ellis, and of course John Elway.

According to Paton, their college scouts (including Brian Stark, Director of College Scouting) are the “stars of this show,” and the draft is their Super Bowl. “They’ve been out all fall visiting schools, and once the season is over, they are out on the pro-day circuit and the all-star-game circuit,” he said.

He then took a moment to recognize the pro scouting department. “You guys know how many transactions we do,” the GM stated, “We bring guys in consistently. They’re on it and they watch tape...They are involved in all the trades, and now, they are helping out with the draft.”

While it’s true that the Broncos have no picks in the first round, that doesn’t mean they have nixed their chances of snatching up a valuable player.

“Contrary to popular belief, we do have nine picks and five in the first four rounds,” Paton informed, adding that he thinks they’re in a really good spot. “I think there’s going to be value in those rounds where we can upgrade our team, upgrade our depth, and upgrade our speed which is everything we need to do.”

Paton noted that many needs were fortunately taken care of in the offseason — ahem, quarterback — “We don’t need to reach for players,” he explained, “We’re going to have flexibility. Again, I talk about flexibility all the time. We can take the best player, we can move up, and we can move down. I really think we’re in a good spot heading into the draft.”

Speaking of those offseason decisions, Paton said they looked into their options at quarterback even though they aren’t taking one early.

“It’s pretty cool that I don’t have to talk about the quarterbacks. It seems like every time I’m up here, I have to answer questions about a quarterback,” he confessed, but added, “We enjoy breaking down the quarterbacks. We still did with this class even though we’re not going to take one high. It’s just what we do at every position.”

His strategy to be in the know on every position definitely reflects his approach. Paton stressed the importance of having flexibility in the draft, and admitted there’s a rush in moving back just as there is in moving up.

“There’s also juice in moving back, knowing that there are enough players that if you move back, you can still get one and get more picks to build your football team,” he explained, “It’s always fun getting on the phone with other GMs and having fun with it and making trades.”

Diving deeper into the 2022 class of players, Paton has confidence in the offensive linemen, the wide receivers, and especially the pass rushers.

“I think the edge class is really strong,” he said, “Everyone needs pass rushers, and I think there are a number of pass rushers in this draft. I would say that would be the strength.”

All in all, Paton sounded like a kid on Christmas Eve when he elaborated on how much he loves this time of year. “We’re locked down. We’re with the coaches. We’re talking football with no distractions or very little distractions.”

“It’s all ball,” he went on, “The players are here like I mentioned. This is the best time of the year other than the season. We really enjoy it.”