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Why did the Broncos draft Iowa State Defensive Lineman Eyioma Uwazurike?

With the Denver Broncos fourth pick in the 2022 draft, George Paton selected a replacement for Shelby Harris.

TCU v Iowa State
The Broncos draft a big body at 116
Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

With the 116th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select defensive lineman Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike. A three-star recruit out of high school, Uwazurike chose the Cyclones over MAC schools such as Toledo. He redshirted his first year on campus because of he academically ineligible, but found his way to playing time as a redshirt freshman. He took advantage of the extra year of eligbility afforded to athletes because of Covid-19 and stuck around for a sixth season in 2021. He was a First Team All-Big 12 selection last year and finished his Cyclone career with 15 sacks, three passes defensed, and two blocked field goals.

One of the older prospects in this draft class, Uwazurike will turn 24-years-old in May. The 6’6 316 lb. defensive lineman is a replacement for Shelby Harris, who was traded to the Seattle Seahawks as part of the Russell Wilson trade. Uwazurike has the length, girth, and frame to log snaps as a 5-technique in the Broncos’ base 3-4 and slide inside in sub packages. He is a powerful run defender who offers the anchor and heavy hands to play his way into the rotation early in his career. He’s more explosive than the testing numbers suggest and has the skillset to become a threatening pocket pusher. He also has enough athletic ability be a factor on stunts, though he’ll be better as a penetrator than looper.

This pick makes a ton of sense for the Broncos because their defensive line rotation looked pretty shaky heading into the draft. While D.J. Jones was signed shortly after Harris was traded to the Seahawks, he’s at his best playing most of his snaps in the A and B gap because stands 6’0 and lacks the length to thrive against tackles. That suggested the Broncos were pretty light at five technique with McTelvin Agim, DeShawn Williams, and Marquiss Spencer set to compete for significant playing time. Agim’s played less than 300 snaps since he was one of John Elway’s third round picks because the previous coaching staff did not trust his run defense, and Williams is 284 lbs. Spencer barely played last year after Paton drafted him in the seventh round.

While Uwazurike was lower on conensus boards than where George Paton decided to take him, I like the pick. He’s a strong fit into what the Broncos want to do up front and should be able to contribute very early in his career.


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