As we wrap up our draft coverage this week, we should start with getting the draft grades out of the way. Every major news outlet in the country has released their team-by-team draft grades and we should at least know where the Denver Broncos stand in that regard. The good news is, despite the lack of top tier picks, draft experts like what George Paton and Sean Payton did with what they had during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Overall, I personally felt like they get a solid ‘B’ grade for these picks. They didn’t attack the position groups I felt needed help, but they did add some big time talent. You can coach a lot of things, but you can’t coach pure athletic talent. I’m perfectly happy with how things went down this weekend.
Let’s review how some of the major news outlets viewed the Denver Broncos 2023 draft class.
Analysis: The trade for Russell Wilson cost the team first- and second-round picks in this year’s draft. The first-round pick gained from Miami for Bradley Chubb was used to hire head coach Sean Payton. Mims will outperform his draft status as a playmaker inside and outside, much like former Bronco Emmanuel Sanders. The team found appropriate value with its third-round picks, needing an athletic linebacker like Drew Sanders and competitive defensive back in Moss (though trading a future third-rounder to land him was a high price).
They added tight end Adam Trautman from head coach Sean Payton’s former team in a trade on Saturday, which seems like good value. Forsyth could become a starter at center but trading away third-day picks will force them to find even more talent after the draft on the offensive and defensive lines.
Day 2: An analytics darling, Mims averaged 19.5 yards per catch over the course of his career in college. Despite not being the biggest player, he still managed to win 54.5% of the contested targets he saw. He tracks the ball in the air really well, averaged 2.75 yards per route run and was fifth in the nation with 602 yards on throws 20-plus yards downfield.
Sanders was the consensus No. 37 overall player and can play all over. He has the ability to drop in coverage and come forward as a pass-rusher, as evidenced by his 75.0-plus pass-rush and coverage grades. The Broncos will deploy him everywhere, with a likely primary role as the strongside linebacker, and their strong defense just got even better in the front seven.
Moss brings plenty of experience, playing more than 2,500 career defensive snaps at Iowa, much of which came in zone coverage. He’s an above-average athlete who earned coverage grades above 81.0 in each of the past two seasons for the Hawkeyes, joining Patrick Surtain II, Damarri Mathis and K’Waun Williams in the Broncos’ secondary.
Day 3: At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Skinner could be a safety/linebacker hybrid at the next level, with 58 defensive stops over the last two seasons. Skinner earned an 83.3 coverage grade in 2022 but belongs closer to the line of scrimmage to get the most out of his skill set.
Denver didn’t check into the draft until the end of the second round thanks to the Russell Wilson trade. The Broncos were able to add an explosive wide receiver in Mims to the offense and he has a good shot at getting plenty of run as a rookie. Behind him, Sanders, Moss, and Skinner are depth additions and will most likely be rotational pieces as rookies. They were able to get some experienced tight end depth towards the end of the draft as they forked over a sixth round pick to the New Orleans Saints for Adam Trautman. However, I can’t give the Broncos any higher than a C here.
Analysis: The Broncos moved all over the board, beginning with their first pick at the end of the second round. Denver was curious in its marriage of need and value, selecting Mims despite being stocked at receiver with Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton. Moss is a quality corner who starred at the Senior Bowl, and could be a nice piece across from star corner Patrick Surtain II. It was a surprise Denver didn’t address the offensive line or a pass rusher, despite potential value being there for general manager George Paton.
Second-round WR Marvin Mims Jr. and third-round LB Drew Sanders are flashy but potentially flawed players. That aside, new HC Sean Payton didn’t have his Round 1 or organic Round 2 picks due to the 2022 trade he didn’t make for Russell Wilson, a move that is an abject failure through one season ... and TBD if Payton can rectify it.
The Broncos are still paying the price for the ill-fated (at least so far) trade for QB Russell Wilson and didn’t have a first-round choice. They gave Wilson some help by getting WR Marvin Mims in the second round. Getting LB Drew Sanders in the third round was an excellent value.
Gave Russell Wilson another option with WR Marvin Mims at No. 63. LB Drew Sanders, CB Riley Moss and S JL Skinner strengthen the defense.
Analysis: Mims adds a vertical threat, but the Broncos already have many young wideouts. Sanders went 49 picks lower than the Lions’ Jack Campbell (No. 18) and might be better if for no other reason than pass-rushing ability. Moss is a safety/cornerback ’tweener with 11 career interceptions.
Denver made their first pick in the Sean Payton era with Oklahoma WR Marvin Mims. At an initial glance, I did not like this pick at all. With so little draft capital to work with and players like Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton already on the roster, why go with a WR? But under a new regime, there is no telling what incumbents are in the Broncos’ long-term plans. So WR could become more of a pressing need. And at least, Mims (who I liked a lot pre-draft) can fill the deep threat role vacated by the often-injured K.J. Hamler. I can’t knock Denver for selecting Mims, especially if he emerges as Russell Wilson‘s new favorite moonball target.
And besides, Denver addressed their team “needs” with their very next pick. Linebacker Drew Sanders fell all the way to Round 3, with rumors swirling that his interviews went poorly. But he’s the exact hybrid linebacker/pass rusher that Denver needed to add. He finished 4th in pressures among LBs in the FBS last season.
Denver traded a 2024 third-rounder to move up from 108 to the 83rd pick to select CB Riley Moss. Somebody needs to tell Denver to stop making trades with the Seahawks because they gave up a decent chuck of value to move up for a cornerback, which isn’t exactly a pressing need for the defense. Not to say that Moss is a bad prospect, but the value was subpar. He’ll have to show out for the Broncos for them to “win” the pick. When targeted last season, Moss generated the 5th-lowest EPA per target and the 12th-highest PFF coverage grade in the 2023 cornerback class. And per Sports Info Solutions, no cornerback generated more total points per game in press coverage than Moss.
Denver also traded away the 196th pick in this draft to New Orleans to acquire tight end, Adam Trautman. Just one of many former Saints (Marquez Callaway, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tony Jones Jr.) to call Denver home in 2023.
That’s about all I could find tonight. A bit of a mixed bag of reactions. In fact, I’d say people are all over the map on the Broncos draft class. I think a lot of the negative analysis is because people are neglecting the reality that Denver only had five picks and none in the first two rounds. There were no splashy first-round picks to get people excited.
I’m sticking with my ‘B’ grade, but if you haven’t graded this draft class yet, you can still do so in our draft grades poll below!
How would grade the Broncos 2023 draft class?
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