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The draft is ‘won’ after the first round

Everyone gets a good player in the first round. How teams strategize their needs, plan to develop future starters and coach up raw talent from the rest of the draft is where teams “win” the NFL Draft.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The first round of the NFL Draft is over, which means Broncos fans can move away from the Russell Wilson highlights and start taking notes on the incoming Class of 2022.

Although George Paton hinted at the possibility of trading up in the second round or more likely trading down, on the books right now the Broncos have three picks Friday night - Nos. 64, 75 and 96.

And while it hasn’t been as riveting of a pre-Draft season since Broncos traded away their first-round selection in a package of picks and players to nab Wilson, the true victory in a team’s Draft Class is the strength of the later picks.

Paton proved his mettle last year in his first draft for the Broncos, selecting what was later voted by NFL scouts and administrators as the best team draft of 2021, beating out the Dolphins, Chiefs, Chargers, Steelers and Patriots to earn the honor.

Many Broncos fans were skeptical of Paton’s choice of Pat Surtain II at No. 9 when quarterback Justin Fields was still on the board in 2021. But few would argue against it now as Broncos ended up with Russell Wilson to end the rookie QB talk for a while plus a future Hall of Fame cornerback in Surtain.

And as much of an impact as Surtain made right away last season, stacking up four interceptions and 14 passes defensed plus selection to the PFWA’s All-Rookie Team, it was the guys in the later rounds who really put Denver on top — running back Javonte Williams who ran for almost 1,000 yards, guard Quinn Meinerz and inside linebacker Baron Browning to name a few.

Some mid- to late-round gems

While the Broncos have gotten some remarkable first-rounders over the years - such as Randy Gradishar, Steve Atwater, Demaryius Thomas, Von Miller - they’ve also gotten some Ring-of-Famers in the third, fourth, sixth rounds. Not to mention some undrafted stars too.

Among the most notable are two recent Hall-of-Fame inductees - Terrell Davis (6th round, 1995) and Shannon Sharpe (7th round, 1990). No Broncos fan is going to complain about the production from either of them.

More recently Rod Smith, Chris Harris Jr. and Phillip Lindsay - three undrafted players - proved that draft status has little to do with how prepared a player is for the next level.

On the current team, Justin Simmons has been one of the best safeties in the league, and Broncos snagged him in the third round in 2016. Josey Jewell has proved a key linebacker, and he didn’t go until the fourth round in 2018.

The point is, very good players - possibly HOFers even - are still out there in the second, third, fourth...even seventh round for the Broncos.

On the flip side

One of the reasons the Broncos have struggled mightily the past five seasons - aside from no franchise QB, which is huge - traces back to the very forgettable Class of 2017 draft for Denver. And that horrendously bad class followed a rather poor group overall from 2016 (aside from Simmons)

In this case, only the first-rounder of that Broncos’ class, Garett Bolles, has turned out to be good enough to stay on the team, much less in the NFL. And when you have an entire class that fizzles out, you have a team in dire straights for competing in its division. And that clas

And that’s exactly where the Broncos have been.

Time for Paton to shine

So it’s “Go Time” for Paton & Co. to turn those mid and later round picks into better picks, steals in the draft or just diamonds in the rough where some good coaching can turn the raw athlete into a starter next season or down the road.

Denver’s biggest needs are edge rusher, cornerback and offensive lineman. Woody Paige predicted the Broncos will trade up in the second to take a player they graded a first-rounder.

Several edge rushers could be in the conversation here, including Michigan’s David Ojabu, Minnesota’s Boye Mafe or Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie.

As MHR pointed out last night, if the Broncos go this route, some of the players they brought in for official visits could be a target, including Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington; Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska; Dylan Parham, IOL, Memphis; Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma; Travis Jones, IDL, UConn; Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC; and Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn.

If Denver decides to just go for the Best Player Available according to their board, they may be in luck as their area of needs match the deep classes at certain positions - primarily cornerback and edge.

Among the top targets according to Dane Brugler’s Big Board of top 300 prospects ranked, cornerback Andrew Booth could be in the mix. Based on the Broncos’ needs and players still left on Brugler’s board, here are some names to keep your eye on tonight (in ranked order according to Brugler’s board):

  • Andrew Booth, cornerback
  • Arnold Ebiketie, edge
  • Bernhard Raimann, OT/G
  • David Ojabo, edge
  • Boye Mafe, edge

Poll

With the remaining players after Round 1 of the Draft, who do you hope the Broncos trade up for or get?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    David Ojabo, edge
    (196 votes)
  • 19%
    Bernhard Raimann, OT/G
    (89 votes)
  • 12%
    Boye Mafe, edge
    (59 votes)
  • 11%
    Andrew Booth, corner
    (54 votes)
  • 13%
    "Shasta" (other)
    (62 votes)
460 votes total Vote Now

Broncos/NFL News

NFL mock draft for Rounds 2 and 3: Dane Brugler has Malik Willis to Seahawks and Desmond Ridder to Titans - The Athletic
Dane Brugler has the Broncos staying at 64 and choosing...a linebacker from Wyoming.

Former Broncos All-Pro Elvis Dumervil to announce third-round pick for Denver
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Broncos 2022 NFL Draft preview: Positions of need, players to watch, trading up and down | Denver Broncos | denvergazette.com
The NFL Draft is here and the Broncos will soon be on the clock.

Broncos OC: Javonte Williams-Melvin Gordon combo 'similar' to Aaron Jones-A.J. Dillon duo in Green Bay
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Ask Aric: Who could be the target if the Broncos trade up?
In this edition of “Ask Aric,” we’ll take a look at some potential options for General Manager George Paton and the Broncos, evaluate the remaining areas of need, peek ahead to 2023 and more.

2022 NFL Draft: Nakobe Dean, Malik Willis headline best prospects available after the first round - CBSSports.com
Only one quarterback was taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Best available players in the 2022 NFL Draft still left after Day 1 - The Athletic
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Chiefs NFL Draft Grades: Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis at 30 - Arrowhead Pride
What do we think of Kansas City’s second pick of the 2022 NFL Draft?

Chargers News: Why the Bolts drafted OG Zion Johnson - Bolts From The Blue
Immense versatility gives Johnson one of the highest floors for any prospect in this year’s draft.

Best available players in the 2022 NFL Draft still left after Day 1 - The Athletic
Travon Walker, chosen first by the Jacksonville Jaguars after being the No. 4 player on Dane Brugler’s Big Board, was the first of 262 players who will hear their names called during the three days of the 2022 NFL Draft. Here are the best available players after each pick comes off the board.

Chiefs NFL Draft Grades: Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis at 30 - Arrowhead Pride
What do we think of Kansas City’s second pick of the 2022 NFL Draft?

Kayvon Thibodeaux Is This NFL Draft’s Bad-Discourse Prospect - The Ringer
Every draft season, there is one prospect who is the subject of intense and bizarre scrutiny. This year it’s Thibodeaux, who faces perplexing questions about his work ethic and motivation that have overshadowed his play on the field.

Who are the best late-round draft picks in NFL history? | RSN
He retired in 2003 with more receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns than any tight end in NFL history. Those records have since been broken in the modern, pass-happy NFL, but Sharpe was truly the first of his kind.

Giants declining fifth-year option of QB Daniel Jones, exercising DL Dexter Lawrence's option
The Giants are not picking up the option on quarterback Daniel Jones, NFL Network's Judy Battista reported, while New York is exercising the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Packers select two Bulldogs, no WRs in first round of 2022 NFL Draft
Most football cognoscenti expected the Packers to draft a wide receiver in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft this Thursday after trading Davante Adams to the Raiders and watching Marquez Valdes-Scantling sign with the Chiefs.

What happened in Round 1 of 2022 NFL Draft: Pick analysis, trade tracker, best available players left and reactions - The Athletic
Here are the pick-by-pick results for every draft pick in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft as well as full analysis and grades for every pick.

NFL draft 2022 live updates: Pros and cons for every first-round pick so far
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of eight teams to have two picks in the first round of the draft. Our NFL Nation reporters analyze how all the top picks fit their respective teams.

NFL draft look-ahead: Still plenty of available talent for Broncos on Day 2 – The Denver Post
The NFL draft’s first round is in the books and the Broncos were spectators as expected after dealing the ninth overall pick to Seattle in the trade for quarterback Russell Wilson.

2022 NFL Draft: Kyle Hamilton, Jermaine Johnson among Day 1's top value picks
Cynthia Frelund analyzes her draft model to identify the five best value picks in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft -- including Kyle Hamilton by the Ravens and Jermaine Johnson by the Jets.