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How did the Broncos’ offseason stack up to the rest of the AFC?

On this week’s episode of Cover 2 Broncos Joe digs into the Broncos offseason with Sports Info Solutions’ Nathan Cooper to compare how it stacks up to the rest of the conference.

One of my favorite parts of hosting Cover 2 Broncos is the opportunity it presents to speak with analysts outside of the Broncos’ bubble to get their take on my favorite team. This week I had the good fortune to speak with Sports Info Solutions’ Nathan Cooper to dig into how Denver’s offseason compares to the rest of the AFC. In case you were unaware, SIS is one of my go-to resources for charting data and production beyond the typical box score stats. Additionally, Cooper and his colleagues do an outstanding job scouting the NFL Draft.

What follows is a brief overview of the topics Cooper and I discussed, along with some of my notes. I hope you’ll listen to the episode in full to hear the chat as well as Cooper’s insights. You won’t regret it.

What did you think of the Broncos offseason and draft?

  • Did the Broncos pay too much to acquire Russell Wilson?

$Free Agency$

Randy Gregory 5 years for $70 M

D.J. Jones 3 years for $30 M

K’Waun Williams 2 years for $5.2 M

One year deals

Melvin Gordon

Kareem Jackson

Billy Turner

Calvin Anderson

Tom Compton

Alex Singleton

Eric Saubert

Blessaun Austin

DeShawn Williams

  • Are there any of the signings that you really liked?
  • Any that give you pause?

The 2022 NFL Draft

One of my big complaints about the Broncos draft is they seemed to have reached for a bunch of picks compared to consensus and the SIS board. Looking at the SIS grading system, the Broncos did not grab a single player who came in above a 6.6 grade.

  • Is that pretty normal when you consider that Denver’s first pick was at 64?

64. Nik Bonitto

Ranked 72 total on SIS board.

Ranked 12th among edge rushers by SIS

6.5 grade - what does that number mean?

  • Played in Sooners 3-3-5, a defense that uses a lot of slanting. Did that inflate his production? Hide his run defense?
  • 47 pressures in 2020, 52 in 2021.
  • Does he fit in a Fangio/Rams-esque defense?

80 (following trade from 75). Greg Dulcich

50th overall prospect on SIS board

3rd ranked tight end

6.6 grade - what does that mean?

Former walk on turned Academic All American. Caught 6 passes of 30+ yards in 2021.

  • Outside of Jimmy Graham’s 3 year run in Seattle, Russell Wilson’s tight ends never produced a 500+ receiving season during his career. Do you attribute that more to scheme, the QB, or the tight ends?
  • Do you like Dulcich’s fit in a Wilson/Hackett (Packers) offense? Is he a good enough blocker to play in a zone/duo run game early in his career?
  • One notable part of the trade and pick is the Broncos sliding back from 75 cost them tackle Bernhard Raimann. Thoughts on Raimann vs. Dulcich and other potential tight end fits.

115. Demarri Mathis

27th ranked cornerback on SIS board. I believe he was the 13th taken.

  • 5.9 grade - what does that mean compared to Damarion Williams 6.5 or Jalyn Armour-Davis’ 6.4 ( both went to Ravens after 115)
  • Does the 2020 shoulder injury concern you?
  • 17 penalties across last two seasons. Is physicality going to be an issue in the NFL?
  • Does he look like a scheme fit for a Fangio/Rams style D?

116. Eyioma Uwazurike

8th ranked DL on SIS board

6.2 grade - what does that mean?

Career year in 2021 with 31 pressures and 9 sacks.

  • Uwazurike is an older prospect having already turned 24. How much does his age impact scouting him and his draft grade, if at all?
  • How do you see his fit into a Fangio front?

152. Delarrin Turner-Yell

15th ranked S on SIS board

5.8 grade - what does that mean?

  • Free safety who has some issues running the alley and taking on blocks. Is he a scheme fit for a defense that utilizes so much two high shell?
  • One other aspect of this move that is puzzling to me is the Broncos already had 6 safeties on the roster after drafting two last year and bringing back Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, P.J. Locke, and signing JR Reed. How does he fit, really?

162. Montrell Washington

Didn’t land on the SIS board. An 5’9 181 lb. slot receiver from the FCS who projects as a return specialist.

  • Why did he not make the SIS board?
  • Word is Dwayne Stukes believes he was the best returner left and will play immediately.
  • Do you like taking what appears to be a pure returner in the 5th?

171. Luke Wattenberg

11th ranked iOL on SIS board

6.2 grade (good quality backup)

  • Older prospect who played 6 years at Washington. Does his age/frame and play strength questions concern you?
  • There’s been some speculation the Broncos drafted him where they did because he was seen as the last center prospect who could compete to start in 2022. Do you think that’s reasonable given the rest of the Broncos centers (Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, potentially Quinn Meinerz though Hackett said he’s the RG shortly before draft)

206. DL Matt Henningsen

12th ranked DT on SIS board

5.8 grade

  • How does he fit into the Broncos’ defensive line rotation?
  • Thoughts on his athletic testing vs. tape

232. Faion Hicks

44th ranked corner on SIS board

5.8 grade

  • Could he be a developmental slot?

Do any of the Broncos UDFAs stand out to you as strong candidates to make the roster/make an impact down the road?

The following 4 made it on the SIS board:

  • ED Chris Allen (5.9 grade)
  • DB Ja’Quan McMillian (6.2 grade)
  • LB Kana’i Mauga (5.9 grade)
  • WR Brandon Johnson (5.8 grade)

Who stands out in the AFC following the offseason?

The Broncos weren’t the only team adding talent this offseason. For a decent stretch of free agency it seemed all the best players were moving to the AFC via trade and signing, and then many of the best teams seem to have had really strong drafts.

  • Who among the AFC clubs had the best offseasons in your mind?
  • Does anyone jump out to you as having a significant falloff?
  • Way too early playoff prediction