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Why the Broncos drafted safety JL Skinner in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft

I tell you why the Broncos selected Boise State safety JL Skinner in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Oklahoma State at Boise State Photo by Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Boise State safety JL Skinner with their 183rd overall pick in the draft. He is a 6’4”, 209-pound safety, and was a value pick for the Broncos because of torn pec that he suffered back in February while he was training for the NFL scouting combine.

He played a total of four seasons at Boise State and was a productive member of their defense. During those four seasons, Skinner totaled 208 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 7 interceptions, 12 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. This past season, he totaled 65 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, 4 interceptions, and 5 pass deflections.

J.L. Skinner is a 6’4”, 209-pound safety out of Boise State who is joining the Denver Broncos in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler had Skinner ranked as his sixth-best safety in the draft and his 92nd overall player in the draft while having a 3rd to 4th round grade on him. So, the Broncos got some pretty good value here according to Brugler.

A three-year starter at Boise State, Skinner was the boundary safety in defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson’s 4-2-5 base scheme. With his hybrid skill set, he would often line up in the box while also showing his range in the post and seeing snaps in the slot. Skinner is a long-striding athlete with cover range versus both the run and pass because of his unique size (not many safeties have an identical body type to AJ Green). His eyes and coverage angles need to be more disciplined, but he doesn’t waste the interception opportunities created by his large catch radius. Overall, Skinner needs to improve his anticipation and tighten up his take-on and tackling, but he is a glider with the physical toughness to play in the box and range to cover tight ends. He fits best as a nickel safety or low-hole player with the upside of an NFL starter.

So, why did the Broncos draft JL Skinner? GM General Manager mentioned his size, athleticism, and ball skills, while also mentioning how fortunate they were for being able to draft him where they did. If Skinner did not suffer that pectoral injury, he likely would have been a third or fourth-round selection.

“We liked him throughout the process. The first thing you see is the size. He’s almost 6’4’. Then the athletic ability for that size. We thought was unique. The short-area quickness, the range and you see the ball skills on tape. The thing that really sticks out is his physicality and playing downhill the run game. You see that all over the tape. He’s a fun watch. [Head Coach] Sean [Payton] and I have watched a lot of tape on him, and he’s a fun watch. I think the injury did impact where he was drafted. We felt very fortunate to get him where we did.”

Skinner has a good combination of size, speed, athleticism, and physicality and has the potential to be a starter for the Broncos down the road. He can play over the top, man up against tight ends, and has the physical play to be a factor in the run game. He is an all-around complete safety who likely will contribute to special teams early on.

JL Skinner will add depth to a safety position that currently has All-Pro safety Justin Simmons, Caden Sterns, P.J. Locke, Delarrin Turner-Yell, and others. Looking down the road, Justin Simmons will be turning 30 years old and will be a free agent after the 2024 season. So, the Broncos need to start developing a safety who can potentially take over for him down the road. Can that player be JL Skinner? Perhaps, but we shall see how things play out.

At the end of the day, the Broncos got themselves a safety with a good combination of size, speed, and athleticism in the sixth round when he was projected to be a day-two selection. So, overall, it seems like a solid selection on paper.