25 thoughts on the Bronco’s 2023 Draft

1. SP likes to talk to the media, and we learned a lot in the two post-draft press conferences.

2. This was always going to be a tough draft for the Broncos, where they felt the impact of the RW trade the most. Last year, we had the benefit of the Von Miller trade, which softened some of the draft capital we lost in that trade. Having to give up a 2023 1st for SP also did not help. Hard to get expectations too high for this draft class.

3. Broncos were unlikely going to come away with a day 1 starter from the draft. Hard to find an impact player when you are picking in the third round. I saw a lot of chat here about needing to find a replacement for Cushenberry at C. With the picks they had, Broncos were never going to find a rookie who could come in a replace a starter like Cush or any other starter. Best we could hope for was bolstering competition and certain positions, building up depth, and improving special teams.

4. Broncos clearly had a short board going into the draft. With only a few picks, they were going to pick the guys they wanted rather than let the board dictate best player available. You see that in trading up twice to secure Mims and Moss. If you want to criticize the Broncos for not maximizing the value of the picks, that’s fine, and the Broncos would probably tell you that was not their strategy going into the draft. They wanted the players they were targeting.

5. SP thought TE was a big need for the team. Broncos were likely wanting to get up in the 2nd round to grab a TE. When that did not happen, they found a way to get Trautman in the 6th round to bolster the TE room. We can also safely assume that the three offensive players SP talked about watching all their offensive snaps in the lead up to the draft. SP does not seem to be impressed with Dulcich or Albert O.

6. Drafting Mims makes more sense when you acknowledge the above. Broncos wanted to grab a TE, the board did not fall that way, and so they looked at getting another offensive weapon to help one of the lowest scoring offenses.

7. SP has also clearly signaled that he is not impressed with the Broncos WR room. I would be surprised if Broncos pick up Jeudy’s 5th year option at this point. They probably want to Jeudy to play his final year and see if he is worth signing to an extension at the end of it. Expect greater shake-up to the Broncos WR room after the 2023 season.

8. "Makeup" seemed really important to SP/GP in drafting their players. They really wanted to "hit" on the few picks they had, even if that meant giving up a little bit of value. Broncos prioritized intelligence, leadership, and competitiveness.

9. Everyone but Forsythe should have an impact on special teams. Mims, Sanders, and Moss are all elite athletes. Skinner likely would have tested as an elite athlete had he not been injured. Mims will get play as a potential punt returner, with the rest getting a shot at coverage units.

10. SP’s comment that Broncos will run the same defensive scheme as last year. That’s a head scratcher to me. I thought with VJ we would be moving more towards a one-deep safety look instead of the Fangio system. JL Skinner pick makes a ton of sense if we are looking at a box safety rather than a two-deep base. Heard some chatter that Broncos keep drafting late round safeties. Yet, Skinner is a different prototype than DTY and Sterns.

11. I was probably most surprised the Broncos did not draft another front 7 player. However, I wouldn’t get too caught up in the idea that we don’t have a starting "RDE." VJ is likely going to run a multiple front and move guys around. Hopefully Browning can have a big year.

12. I wasn’t too surprised Broncos passed on RB. I think SP likes the RB room we have. People are still sleeping on the Tony Jones Jr. pickup. He is somebody SP had as his #2 RB behind Alvin Kamara in SP’s last season with the Saints. I think Broncos would have looked at RB with one of their early 3rd round picks. Once there was no TE available, they probably looking at another offensive weapon. There just wasn’t any RB there at that pick worth taking. Lions reaching on Gibbs probably had an impact on how the board fell for RBs.

13. We are probably at the nadir of the RW trade. Many takes this weekend on how bad the Seahawks "fleeced" the Broncos. Even some takes that Broncos’ draft was bad based on the RW trade, which seemed like laziness rather than analysis. I don’t think the whole story on this trade is written yet. I expect RW will have a bounce back year (as I must expect as a fan) with SP maximizing what RW does best. On the other side, Seattle did not use their bounty of picks to get a new franchise QB. I don’t think Geno Smith can get them to a Super Bowl, and they are going to continue to be middling until a new GM/Coach is brought in.

14. You have to love what the Broncos have done this offseason as a whole. They brought in a Super Bowl-winning coach, rebuilt the offensive line, kept this WR room together while adding new talent, continued to add on defense, and added depth all around. This team may still live or die based on how RW plays. I think we will see SP try to emphasize RW as a pocket passer with more focus on the run game and play-action game.

15. I also did not think there were many "blue chip" prospects in this year’s draft. Maybe that’s just sour grapes. Or maybe that’s just me not having much interest in any of the top players. However, this year’s first round did not seem super exciting or full of guys who will have an immediate impact on Sundays.

Some individual thoughts on draft picks:

16. Mims seems like a great fit for RW. The speed is there, but he also excels at tracking the deep ball and catching over his shoulder. He’s somebody you can see catching moonshots from RW, especially after the play breaks down on a RW scramble. He is a high IQ guy who should be able to develop more of a route tree with NFL experience. He almost went to Stanford and then majored in engineering at OU.

17. Trading up for Mims seemed a little strange, mostly as trading up to draft a WR at a position that is already a strength on the roster. However, to reiterate comments above, SP clearly was not impressed by WR group. Mims can fill of KJ Hamler, who has not found his place in the NFL and can’t stay healthy. Broncos needed someone who could put pressure on defenses and expand the field. I don’t think Mims will have a huge impact year 1, but he will be used to open space for other receivers underneath. Also, Broncos moved above Chicago, who later took a similar WR in Tyler Scott later in the draft.

18. Drew Sanders seems like great value. He reportedly slipped in the draft because he didn’t have a clear position and interviewed poorly. He lands with a great coordinator in VJ, who is used to finding ways to use talent in multiple fronts. Sanders is still relatively new to the ILB position and it will really be up to him on whether he can master the role in the NFL and compete for a starting position. I also think he needs to improve lower body strength if he wants to stick as an ILB.

19. Sanders probably will be used primarily on special teams this year. We still have Jonas Griffith at ILB, who was once the next great thing, but got lost in the injury shuffle. Singleton was great last year, but I’m not a big fan of his new contract and thought that was an overpay.

20. Riley Moss. This one if probably going to be polarizing. There’s no getting around he’s a white cornerback in a league that rarely sees white conerbacks. At the outset, Broncos did not overpay for the trade up from 108 to 83. They paid what the draft pick value chart says they should have paid to trade up. The trade up for Mims probably was a worse trade in terms of value.

21. I thought CB depth was the biggest need going into the draft. We are putting a lot of faith in Damarri Mathis, who will get targeted a ton across from PS2.

22. The Broncos clearly coveted Moss, and went up and got the guy they wanted. He’s an elite track athlete with a nose for the ball and a team captain at Iowa. He is one of the "makeup" guys Broncos targeted and who SP said "aced" the offseason. Immediately after the pick, I think many fans rushed to his draft profiles that had him listed in the 4th-5th round. However, the Broncos clearly valued him much higher than that, and its hard to fault the Broncos for drafting the player they wanted.

23. JL Skinner is a pick I really like, if he can get healthy. He’s another great value pick that probably slipped a couple rounds due to his injury. However, you can seem him having a clear role in a defense as a box safety, and using his length as a matchup cover over TEs. I won’t get too excited on a 6th round draft pick, but I’ll be rooting for this guy to come in as a special teams player who can hopefully carve out a place on defense.

24. Worth pointing out common themes on the defensive players we drafted: Sanders, Moss, and Skinner all have length and are all multiple. Sanders can play ILB but come down on the line to rush the QB. Moss and Skinner can likely line up in multiple positions in the defensive backfield. With depth players, you want guys that can fill different roles if needed, and VJ’s defensive scheme is known for its multiple looks.

25. Alex Forsythe is a late round C for all the fans that wanted to draft a C. He likely has a better shot at making the team than most late-late round picks.

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