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Hitting on Edge and O-line Day 3 will be key to successful Denver draft, analysts say

There’s no “F them picks” mantra this year. Broncos need to nail it on the few they have.

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NFL Combine Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Last year ahead of Day 1 of the NFL Draft - a day the Broncos sat patiently waiting for the next round as they had traded away their first-round pick to acquire Russell Wilson - GM George Paton quipped that during that hectic first round, he would be watching Russell Wilson highlights.

Paton must have picked some great ones as he offered Wilson a record-breaking deal months later but before No. 3 had even taken a regular-season snap.

And that regular season turned out to be a doozy.

But not in the way anyone in the building hoped.

Now a year later, the Broncos are in a similar position, having mortgaged their immediate draft future to get Sean Payton as head coach.

It’s a gamble the Broncos had to make as they needed a drastic change to rebound from arguably the worst season in franchise history - or at least in many decades.

But Paton will likely be a lot less braggadocious about his Day 1 activities at this year’s NFL Draft.

There will be no “F them picks” comments, and the only highlights he should be watching will be of the guys the Broncos need to target in order to nail their picks in the early rounds.

Evaluation season is officially underway as all roads lead to Kansas City, Missouri, April 27-29 for the 2023 NFL Draft. Beginning with the Senior Bowl earlier this month, followed by the HBCU Legacy Bowl last weekend and now the NFL Combine...teams are gearing up to find the top talent.

And NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had some thoughts for the Broncos, who currently do not pick until Nos. 67 and 68 — go to the trenches.

“When you look at the Broncos and the directions they could be looking to go, I think O-line [and] D-line obviously would be the places where you start,” Jeremiah said. “I think from an offensive line standpoint, I feel pretty good about the interior and some of the depth you could find at that portion of the draft.”

Broncos will need some FA help to really improve the offensive line, which Sean Payton has already identified as the greatest position of need for Denver. Not to mention that several O-linemen will become unrestricted free agents - starting left guard Dalton Risner, tackles Billy Turner, Calvin Anderson, Cam Fleming and Tom Compton.

According to Dane Brugler’s Top 100 players in the Draft, a few key O-linemen could still be available by the time the Broncos are picking, including Syracuse OL Matthew Bergeron (No. 65) and Oklahoma T Wanya Morris (No. 69). From NFL Network, University of Southern California’s Andrew Vorhees is another name to watch.

“When Sean Payton took over the Saints in 2006, he oversaw a complete overhaul of the offensive line from the season before,” writes NFL Network’s Eric Edholm. “The changes up front in Denver might not be that drastic, but it’s possible we see at least a few new starters.”

Jeremiah believes there will be some gems for Denver at both edge and o-line.

He noted K.J. Henry from Clemson; Andre Carter [II] from Army; Zach Harrison, Ohio State; Dylan Horton from TCU and Isiaih Foskey from Notre Dame.

“Those types of guys — those are good players, and I think those players are probably going to be in that third, fourth-round range,” Jeremiah said. “But I think when you’re looking at offensive linemen, edge rushers, I think it’s not bad. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of the depth that’s still going to be there in the third and fourth round of this draft.”

Broncos/NFL News

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