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Who are the best players remaining on Day 3 of the NFL Draft?

There’s still plenty of talent for the Denver Broncos to draft on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

NFL Combine
Who should Paton take?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos have added to the roster, and now it’s time to chase traits. Day three of the NFL Draft is where GMs can really surprise the rest of the league, and there’s plenty of talent for George Paton and the Broncos’ front office to consider. What follows is a look at the remaining players in the draft, very loosely ranked among the rest of the prospects at their position group.

Offensive Tackle

Garett Bolles will turn 30 in May and the 2022 starter at right tackle looks like it will be decided by a competition between Tom Compton, Calvin Anderson, and Billy Turner. Most NFL teams prioritize pass blocking over run blocking with their left tackle, even as defenses have moved to isolate right tackles against top tier edge rushers on passing downs. With the Broncos set to move towards more of a pure zone/duo run game under Nathaniel Hackett I expect more of an emphasis to be placed on a tackle’s lateral quickness and ability to block at the second level.

  • Rasheed Walker - Penn State
  • Spencer Burford - UTSA
  • Max Mitchell - Louisiana
  • Kellen Diesch - Arizona State
  • Daniel Faalele - Minnesota
  • Zachary Thomas - San Diego State
  • Dare Rosenthal - Kentucky
  • Obinna Eze - TCU
  • Braxton Jones - Southern Utah
  • Matt Waletzko - North Dakota State
  • Ryan Van Demark - Connecticut

Edge Rusher

If they can stay healthy, Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory look like a good set of bookends for 2022. Long term there are significant questions about the rotation, as Chubb and backup Malik Reed are unrestricted free agents in 2023. An edge rusher is routinely asked to be the force defender against the run, but they make their names pressuring the quarterback: burst, bend, and rush repertoire are critical to a prospect’s success making a jump to the league. All signs point to Ejiro Evero running a variant of the scheme Vic Fangio utilized the last three seasons, which means an edge rusher needs to be able to drop into space on occasion.

  • Kingsley Enagbare - South Carolina
  • Amare Barno - Virginia Tech
  • Isaiah Thomas - Oklahoma
  • Domonique Robinson - Miami (OH)
  • Jesse Luketa - Penn State
  • Tyreke Smith - Ohio State
  • Christopher Allen - Alabama

Cornerback

If they can stay healthy, Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, and K’Waun Williams make up one of the better trios of cornerbacks in the league. Depth is a huge question, as both Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey missed significant time in 2021. CB is often split into two position groups in the NFL and this holds true for Denver.

A boundary corner is often responsible for their assignment deep downfield against a wide receiver, which makes long speed and hip fluidity critical to their success. Length and play strength are also important, as they need to hold up in jump ball situations against massive targets such as the Chargers’ 6’5” 230 lb. Mike Williams.

In a general sense the nickel corner is merely a smaller, quicker player who subbed in for a linebacker’s duties. This means they’re a part of the run fit, and they’re usually protected downfield by the other DBs. Route recognition, twitch, and physicality are critical to their success, even if it comes at the cost of a little long speed.

Nickel

  • Derion Kendrick - Georgia
  • Damarious Williams - Houston
  • Mikael Wright - Oregon
  • Ja’Quan McMillian - East Carolina
  • Chase Lucas - Arizona State
  • Jack Jones - Arizona State

Corner

  • Coby Bryant - Cincinnati
  • Zyon McCollum - Sam Houston State
  • Jalyn Armour-Davis - Alabama
  • Tariq Woolen - UTSA
  • Josh Jobe - Alabama
  • Joshua Williams - Fayetteville State
  • Akayleb Evans - Missouri
  • Mario Goodrich - Clemson
  • Jermaine Waller - Virginia Tech
  • Tayler Hawkins - San Diego State
  • Tariq Castro-Fields - Penn State

Defensive Line

D.J. Jones and Dre’Mont Jones are a promising interior for the Broncos’ nickel fronts. Questions remain for base 3-4 or 5-1 personnel groupings, however. DL is often a catch all term used to categorize as many as three distinct body types, though each will have to play multiple alignments on the line in different sub packages and fronts. The Broncos will play most of their snaps in nickel and so the linemen below are broken down into how they fit a 4-2-5 front, but the roster looks like it could use a player who can log snaps as five technique.

With his squatty 6’0 frame, anchor, and play strength, D.J. Jones fits the mold of a nose tackle and lacks the length of an NFL five technique. Nose tackles typically line up in a 2i-0 technique and are tasked with holding the A or B gap, sometimes both. In a Fangio scheme these players are valuable for their ability to play gap and a gap as it frees up resources for coverage. Jones and Purcells also bring uncanny short area quickness for 320+ lb. players, which makes them quite disruptive vs. outside zone.

Standing 6’3 and and 281 lbs. with very good burst and quickness, I’d classify Dre’Mont Jones as a classic 3-technique. These types of defensive linemen are often the stars of the show with their ability to impact the quarterback, their ability to rush the passer can justify tradeoffs or limitations elsewhere. Dre’Mont Jones is at his best shooting gaps on passing downs, but is a little undersized for five technique duties or vs. doubles.

Former Bronco Derek Wolfe or the Los Angeles Rams A’Shawn Robinson are good examples of a prototypical five technique. While there’s about a 40 lb. gap between the pair, they both stand north of 6’4” with the long arms to mash with tackles, and both offer the play strength to eat blocks to free up teammates. Typically these players will slide inside in sub packages and play as an interior rusher.

3-Tech

  • Perrion Winfrey - Oklahoma
  • Matthew Butler - Tennessee
  • Kalia Davis - UCF
  • Thomas Booker - Stanford
  • Matt Henningsen - Wisconsin

Nose Tackle

  • Otito Ogbonnia - UCLA
  • John Ridgeway - Arkansas
  • Eyioma Uwazurike - Iowa State
  • Noah Elliss - Idaho
  • Marquan McCall - Kentucky
  • Neil Farrell - LSU

Off Ball Linebacker

Josey Jewell gives the Broncos a dependable starter, though questions remain about his running mate after reports emerged about Hackett and Evero’s plans to move Baron Browning to edge. A linebacker in the Fangio style defense is routinely tasked with leveraging gaps against the run, hook and flats coverage, and adding to the pressure call with a blitz. This could be an unpredictable spot to watch in the draft as Paton’s moves thus far suggests he values athletic traits more than John Elway did, even if he sacrifices a backers ability to take on blocks or read keys to acquire them.

  • Darrian Beavers - Cincinnati
  • Brandon Smith - Penn State
  • JoJo Domann - Nebraska
  • Terrel Bernard - Oregon
  • Malcolm Rodriguez - Oklahoma State
  • Damone Clark - LSU+
  • D’Marco Jackson - Appalachian State
  • Tariq Carpenter - Georgia Tech
  • Nephi Sewell - Utah

+Will miss significant part of rookie season because of recent spinal fusion surgery+

Wide Receiver

With Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy under contract for at least the next two seasons this does not look like a position Paton will invest an early round pick into. It is worth mentioning that “wide receiver” is a catch-all term. Teams categorize receivers by Z, X, and slot. For our purposes the difference to keep an eye on is boundary vs. slot receiver. It is worth noting that the way Hackett’s offense meshes with Russell Wilson’s playing style could dramatically impact receiver evaluations.

Sutton and Patrick fit the mold of a boundary receiver in the league. Neither is a 4.3 burner or a twitched up separator, though they have the size, physicality, and concentration to go up and win jump balls as well as the reliable hands to make snags through contact on money downs. They can and will play snaps out of the slot, but the way they can beat press makes them valuable matchups on the perimeter.

Jeudy and K.J. Hamler’s skillsets are sort of the inverse of Sutton and Patrick. They’re at their best creating separation the horizontal plane and lack the size, physicality, or catch radius to consistently win in jump ball situations.

  • Khalil Shakir - Boise State
  • Justyn Ross - Clemson
  • Romeo Doubs - Nevada
  • Calvin Austin - Memphis

Safety

Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson look like one of the best safety duos in the league if the 34-year-old can fend off Father Time for another year. How Paton sees Caden Sterns probably impacts if and where the Broncos take a safety in this draft. In the Fangio/Evero defense, the lines between a strong and free safety are pretty blurry. Both safeties need to wear multiple hats, logging snaps in two high, single high, the box, and slot.

  • Dane Belton - Iowa
  • Markquese Bell - Florida A&M
  • Kekaula Kaniho - Boise State
  • Yusuf Corker - Kentucky
  • Smoke Monday - Auburn
  • Verone McKinely III - Oregon

Interior Offensive Line

On the surface this does not appear to be a position where there is an urgent need for a rookie. If they’re back to peak form Graham Glasgow, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Quinn Meinerz look set to compete for three open spots on the interior. What’s murkier is how Hackett’s new offense and coaching staff impacts the incumbent linemen. Similar to the tackle position, the move to a zone/duo run game means a greater emphasis will be placed on lateral quickness and the ability to combo block up to and succeed in space at the second level. Historically, the scheme tends to accept less physical strength from their centers if the player brings the competitive toughness and savvy to compensate.

Guard

  • Darian Kinnard - Kentucky
  • Thayer Munford - Ohio State
  • Jamaree Salyer - Georgia
  • Justin Shaffer - Georgia
  • Cade Mays - Tennessee

Guard/Center

  • Alec Lindstrom - Boston College
  • Zach Thom - Wake Forest
  • Dawson Deaton - Texas Tech
  • Derek Schweiger - Iowa State
  • Brock Hoffman - Virginia Tech
  • Nick Ford - Utah

Center

  • Dohnovan West - Arizona State

Tight End/ H-Back

There are questions about the room from TE1 on down following Noah Fant’s trade to the Seattle Seahawks. Albert Okwuegbunam is the presumptive starter and Eric Tomlinson was signed to serve as the blocking tight end. Shaun Beyer and Andrew Beck fill out the room, though neither made much (if any) impact on offense in 2021. Last year the Green Bay Packers used multiple tight end sets on 33% of their snaps, which is the least of Nathaniel Hackett’s three year run in Wisconsin.

NFL History shows tight ends are unequivocally low impact players during their first season because prospects have to learn how to play two positions at an NFL level: receiver and offensive line. Given the current state of the room and Okwuegbunam’s injury history, the Broncos look to have a bigger need for a player who can flex out and play as an H-back. Even still, Russell Wilson’s playing style raises questions about how often he’d be utilized in the passing game.

  • Isaiah Likely - Coastal Carolina
  • Cade Otton - Washington
  • Charlie Kolar - Iowa State
  • Chigoziem Okonkwo - Maryland
  • Cole Turner - Nevada
  • Jake Ferguson - Virginia
  • Derrick Deese Jr. - San Jose State
  • Daniel Bellinger - San Diego State
  • Grant Calcaterra - SMU

Quarterback

Russell Wilson solves the conundrum that’s plagued the Broncos since Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset. There’s some long term uncertainty behind him with soon-to-be 36-year-old Josh Johnson set to compete with Brett Rypien for the backup job. In a general sense, I disagree with drafting a backup before day three. With that said, Paton may see an opportunity to grab a sliding prospect he believes can start one day. What follows are the prospects that feasibly fit that mold who look like fits into a Hackett offense tailored around Wilson. Putting it as simply as possible: Work ethic, decision making, and accuracy are critical to survive in the league as a QB2.

  • Sam Howell - North Carolina
  • Carson Strong - Nevada
  • Bailey Zappe - Western Kentucky
  • E.J. Perry - Brown
  • Jack Coan - Notre Dame
  • Kaleb Eleby - Western Michigan

Running Back

Javonte Williams is the Broncos RB1 for the foreseeable future and Mike Boone will count for about $2 million against the ‘22 cap, which suggests he’s the top backup. The wear and tear a back takes over a 17-game schedule means it’d make a ton of sense to add another player to the rotation. The zone/duo run game Hackett looks set to run means a player’s vision, decision making, and acceleration are critical to their success. In the modern NFL a back won’t play much if he can’t be trusted to block on passing downs.

  • Isaiah Spiller - Texas A&M
  • Tyler Allgeier - BYU
  • Kyren Williams - Notre Dame
  • Dameon Pierce - Florida
  • Zamir White - Georgia
  • Pierre Strong Jr. - South Dakota State
  • Ty Chandler - North Carolina
  • Hassan Haskins - Michigan
  • Zonovan Knight - NC State
  • Isaih Pacheco - Rutgers

Poll

What is the Broncos’ biggest remaining need?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    QB
    (18 votes)
  • 0%
    RB
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    WR
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    TE
    (7 votes)
  • 34%
    OT
    (353 votes)
  • 4%
    iOL
    (49 votes)
  • 0%
    ED
    (8 votes)
  • 9%
    DL
    (99 votes)
  • 13%
    LB
    (138 votes)
  • 25%
    CB
    (263 votes)
  • 0%
    S
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    Other - need the PUNT GOD
    (53 votes)
1015 votes total Vote Now