There was a lot of buildup to this year’s draft - not because the Broncos had a lot of picks.
But because they didn’t.
And since George Paton has been in Dove Valley, he’s made it known he likes acquiring picks - which often means trading down.
Sean Payton has been known for being aggressive in the draft but not necessarily with a lot of picks. He’s more inclined to go get players he likes - which often means trading up.
And that’s the philosophy that won out this past weekend.
When Payton was addressing the media about the choice to move up for Marvin Mims Jr. and Riley Moss, he asked Paton how many picks they still had left for Day 3.
It probably hurt Paton a little to say, “Two six-round picks.”
And when Payton repeated “two six-round picks,” he was probably smiling really big inside.
“George [Paton] is the saver and I try to spend. We complement each other well,” Payton joked, adding that he did the same thing to GM Mickey Loomis when Payton was coaching the Saints - and acknowledged it’s good to have a complementary saver. “Listen, we would have been out of everything in the first day if it were me.”
best value 2023 NFL draft classes— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 29, 2023
see pic for 1-32 plus methodology
team-by-team & round-by-round analysis to follow pic.twitter.com/lEP7sNDvMF
But Payton’s new GM certainly swallowed his pride and let the new head coach do what he wanted. And he even enjoyed it.
“I told him, and I told the whole group, this is probably the first time that in the first three rounds, we traded up twice. It was fun,” he said. “We got players that we wanted. We were all fired up. It was unfamiliar to me.”
But it’s probably something he’s going to become very familiar with in the coming years.
Payton was clearly in charge and getting the players he wanted.
“It was exciting. I told you that it would be exciting,” Payton joked with his new GM. But then he was very serious when he highlighted the thinking behind it.
“This is important. Two picks in the top third,” he said, pointing out the philosophy to go up for guys they had as “forward targets,” stay put for guys that are neutral, and if what’s left isn’t on their board, back down.
The best part of this insight into Payton’s thinking was the comparison to game planning - which he said was “no different.”
“Man, we’re trying to make so many of these decisions on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. [We were] eating some licorice, calmly watching it all and talking about it so that when the heat of the moment comes, we’ve been over it, and we’ve been over it,” Payton said, noting how Paton would talk about various scenarios and then they’d challenge themselves to go back and watch more film. “That exercise, I think, was really important and helped us all when here came. It’s third-and-eight and you already discussed the call Wednesday night for half an hour. That’s preparation.”
In fact, referring to his pre-draft comments about watching 1,200 snaps of three players, Payton revealed that “the bad news” was that the Broncos didn’t get any of those players.
But the good news was in the details of the process.
They would get down to such nitty gritty on each player, that they started looking at tape from their sophomore years in some cases.
“The receiver stack was quite exhausting. We would do—let’s say there were six [receivers]. We compare one versus six, then five versus four and then we try to make an argument like I’m this kid’s mother and I think he’s better than Johnny at four and let’s see why. Pretty soon, it stops here. We don’t think he’s better than three, two or one, but then we try to look at the special teams and then sophomore year. The receiver process, especially in that second area that we were discussing, there was a lot of time on that.”
Every year I love ALL the players we get in the #NFLDraft. They're excited; I'm excited. It's fun.— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) April 29, 2023
But when our draftniks at MHR like the picks, then I get really excited.
"These kids are all really good at football." - @topherhart
"They are all solid picks." - @Skotty_Payne pic.twitter.com/gv2t6wNpoY
And for Payton, the reward of the last few months of detailed preparation is the recognition that they did a good job with that preparation.
Payton was asked Saturday night if he thought the draft was a success.
“The first thing I would say is tomorrow’s the day that all the draft grades come out. I love tomorrow,” he said. “But truly, I hope three years from now when all of us will have a better idea of how this draft went, the reports will be good.”
He even acknowledged that all coaches will say “we got our guy” today - but it’s not always true.
“Half of them are lying, but I would say, and I don’t want to speak for George, but man, I was excited,” Payton added. “There are some things that were fantastic. If you started really at the beginning of it all and you said here’s free agency, here we are and the draft just ended—I’m really excited.”
If this draft process - not to even mention the players gained - is any indication, next season is already 1,000 times better than last.
And that has me excited.
Now that it’s all said and done, what’s your confidence level in Sean Payton’s approach with this team?
This poll is closed
Even higher than it was
No different than before - but it was pretty high
Not too sure about this draft
Saying nothing until the season starts