The start of the 2023 NFL Draft is just days and hours away and things are starting to heat up. As for the Denver Broncos, they may not pick until the third round, but they do have a few needs they hope to fill during the draft. Right now, they only have five selections in the draft, but that number is expected to change as they wheel and deal throughout the three days of the draft.
So with all that said, I am going to give you the Broncos' five biggest needs they have as they enter the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Broncos have likely the best cornerback in the game in Patrick Surtain II but things get murky after that. Behind Surtain, the Broncos currently have second-year corner Damarri Mathis, veteran slot corner K’Waun Williams, second-year corner Ja’Quan McMillian, Essang Bassey, recently signed Tremon Smith, second-year corner Faion Hicks, and Delonte Hood.
Overall, that is not the deepest cornerback unit in the NFL. Keep in mind, they have Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert within their division and likes of Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence, Aaron Rodgers(eventually), and others to contend with if they want to make noise in the AFC. So, improving their cornerback unit should be a priority for them moving forward.
I fully expect them to address the cornerback position sometime early in the draft. Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson, Kansas State’s Julius Brents, and Purdue’s Cory Tice Jr. are names I can see them looking at.
2. Running Back
Sure, they signed veteran Samaje Perine, but the Broncos backfield still needs some work. As we know, we do not know when Javonte Williams will be back after he suffered a major knee injury, but it is likely that he will miss at least part of the regular season. So, the Broncos need to add some depth and potentially a starter to that position in the draft.
After veteran Samaje Perine and Williams, the Broncos currently have journeyman Tony Jones, Damarea Crockett, Tyler Badie, and Tyreik McAllister. That is not ideal depth and we likely see a few of these players not on the roster after the draft.
This is a fairly deep running back class and I could see the Broncos selecting one sometime in the third or fourth round of the draft. Names like Tank Bigsby, Israel Abanikanda, Tyjae Spears, Devon Achane, DeWayne McBride, and Kenny McIntosh are just some of the names to keep an eye on during the draft.
3. Offensive line depth
If we are taking head coach Sean Payton’s word, then the Broncos starting five along the offensive line is set. He said after free agency that they view Lloyd Cushenberry as their starting center so that just leaves depth as a need as they enter the draft.
They currently lack a reliable swing tackle and honestly, any reliable interior depth currently. The players currently on the roster could develop into that, but it is hard to be confident about the depth along the offensive line currently. So, I could see the Broncos drafting some interior depth along with a developmental swing tackle. I also would not be surprised to see them add competition at center despite Payton’s comments.
Some center prospects to keep an eye on are Olu Oluwatimi, Chandler Zavala(a guard but could shift over to center), and Ricky Stromberg.
Some offensive tackle names to keep an eye are, Carter Warren, Jaelyn Duncan, Warren McLendon, and Jake Witt.
4. EDGE Rusher
The Broncos do not lack depth at edge rusher, but they do lack overall answers at that position. Veteran Randy Gregory was productive when healthy, but missed a bunch of time last season due to injury. Baron Browning showed flashes of brilliance at times but can he put it all together? Second-round Nik Bonitto did not show much during his rookie season, but has the talent to put it all together and Jonathon Cooper might be their best edge setter but lacks the consistent pass rush skills.
So, with the lack of true answers, I could see the Broncos addressing this position rather early in the draft. You need to get after the passer and you cannot have enough pass rushers, especially with the injury concerns the Broncos currently have at that position.
Tennesee’s Byron Young is a name to watch here along with Yaya Diaby, Derick Hall, Nick Hampton, and others in this deep edge rushing class.
5. Defensive line
The Broncos lost Dre’Mont Jones to free agency but did sign Zach Allen to replace him. However, they also lost DeShawn Williams as well and he was a key member of their defensive line who has played a bunch of snaps for them the past few seasons. They did draft two rookie defensive linemen last year but neither Eyioma Uwazurike nor Matt Henningsen showed enough for me to feel confident about them taking over as a starter. Jonathan Harris and Jordan Jackson are your other defensive end depth, but reliable consistent depth is lacking. At nose tackle, however, they do have veterans D.J. Jones and Mike Purcell, so they have at least decent depth there. However, overall depth is needed.
You need to win in the trenches and the Broncos are expected to be a lot of close games this upcoming season where they will need their defensive line to step up. So, that is why I see the Broncos addressing their defensive line during the draft.
Some names I like and think we should keep an eye on are Keeanu Benton, Adetomwia Adebawore, Colby Wooden, Cameron Young, and Zach Harrison
What do you consider to be the Broncos biggest need entering the draft?
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