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Hart’s Denver Broncos 2023 NFL Draft Review

Mile High Report writer Christopher Hart gives his review of the Broncos’ 2023 NFL Draft.

NFL: APR 28 2023 Draft Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books and the Denver Broncos, despite having very few selections, got better.

Heck, I think they actually got a lot better. But maybe that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

But before I get into discussing the picks and giving them grades, I’ll offer up some random musings relative to how the Broncos navigated this year’s draft.

Musing #1

First things first, I am surprised they didn’t draft a running back. Even if they project Javonte Williams to be ahead of schedule with his recovery, I felt they would certainly use a pick to add to the room.

Who would the Broncos’ top guy be if Samaje Perine missed time? I have no idea. That’s why I’m a little bit concerned with what is there currently. That being said, I’d be pretty stunned if they didn’t add someone else to the room.

Musing #2

The Broncos were allegedly incredibly high on Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz. I know a lot of fans were too. Count me in as one who was bummed when hew went off the board several picks before Denver was originally slated to pick at #67.

If Denver was really enamored with him, why wouldn’t they have moved up and got him? They moved up for Mims and they moved up for Moss. Something just doesn’t seem right unless nobody wanted to move back.

Kind of feel like they read the room wrong if they assumed the New York Giants weren’t interested. It had been reported all draft cycle they loved him.

Musing #3

It’s now been six years in a row where the Broncos haven’t drafted an offensive tackle. I don’t know for sure, but that has to be some sort of record. They added a name or two in this year’s UDFA period, but I’ll just go on record now saying OT is one of Denver’s biggest needs for 2024. Maybe you disagree and think Garret BoLles sticks around for a few more seasons. I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Now onto my pick reviews. . .

#63: Marvin Mims, WR - Oklahoma

If you were one of the few who predicted the Broncos were going to trade up into the second-round and use their first pick on a receiver–I tip my hat to you.

It might have not been the Broncos’ biggest need entering the draft, but getting a top-flight prospect capable of stretching the field and making huge plays was essential.

What’s not to love about a receiver who averaged 20 yards per reception the past two years? Mims was one of my favorite wide receiver prospects in this year’s draft. His addition to the squad gives the franchise a flexible weapon at receiver who has proven his worth inside and out. He also has return ability which is another plus mark in his favor.

Denver’s wide receiver room is in tune for a major makeover by 2024 and acquiring Mims is the first step in that direction. I think he has legitimate Pro-Bowl talent and can be a fixture offensively for years to come.

I applaud Sean Payton and George Paton’s move up to get him. I didn’t envision him being within striking distance for the Broncos and felt he was a Top 50 player.

Grade: A

#67: Drew Sanders, LB - Arkansas

I didn’t envision a scenario where the Broncos utilized one of their top picks on a linebacker, but I was proven wrong again. In the event Sanders wasn’t available, I’m sure they would have gone another direction, but overall I feel he presents great value for the team.

The former 5-star Alabama Crimson Tide recruit turned Arkansas Razorback was one of this draft’s biggest playmakers. He has traits you can bet on in the third-round and if his mental processing and feel for the position improve, the Broncos might just land themselves the most impactful linebacker in this year’s class.

I’m not sure Sanders gets immediate starting reps, but he will be a core special teams player and undoubtedly be worked into Vance Joseph’s defense in a variety of looks. As Sean Payton noted in his post-draft press conference, Sanders is a pressure player. He gets after the quarterback and will certainly be tasked with doing that as a rookie.

All and all, if he reaches his potential, we will look back and know Denver got a steal with the section. I’m not exaggerating when I say Sanders could be one of the National Football League’s next best ‘backers. I think it’s possible. Let’s hope so!

Grade: A

#83: Riley Moss, CB - Iowa

The Broncos needed help at the corner position and Moss certainly gave them that. He is also a special teams ace who will help out in that phase immediately. I like the player, but as I mentioned prior, I don’t like mortgaging future selections to obtain him.

Joseph likes to mix-and-match players in coverage, so I feel confident in Moss seeing some quality playing time as a rookie. I would have preferred they took a different approach utilizing #108, but I can’t fault them for addressing a position of need.

Grade: C+

#183: JL Skinner, S - Boise State

Surprise! George Paton and Co. draft yet another defensive back.

There aren’t any major workout numbers to go off of since he was recovering from a torn pectoral injury, but Skinner is a physical presence at 6’4” and over 200 pounds who has a nose for the football. Like Moss, he also has a penchant of taking the ball away and forcing turnovers.

I think the Broncos could use some more turnovers. Don’t you?

A lot of prominent draft analysts such as Dane Brugler and Lance Zierlein had Skinner’s value several rounds higher. In that regard, it would appear the Broncos got pretty lucky for him to slide all the way to the sixth-round.

I believe his ceiling is a starting caliber safety in the NFL. He likely won’t start this year, but I would envision him getting a specialized role in scenarios to help combat tight ends one-on-one. Skinner, just as the others drafted before him, will also provide value on special teams.

Grade: B+

#257: Alex Forsyth, C - Oregon

In reality, the Broncos would have liked to address the center position a bit earlier, but Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz came off the board a few picks before they moved up for Mims.

In the seventh round, Oregon’s Alex Forsyth isn’t a bad option. In fact, it’s a sneaky good and more than fair dart to throw at the board. He won’t compete for starting reps right away, but certainly has potential to start down the road.

Over the past three seasons, he started 28 games for the Ducks and has over 1,500 reps under his belt. Discipline was an issue last season with six false start penalties. He has missed some time over the years with various injuries, so medicals are a concern.

However, he was a capable pass blocker with no sacks allowed over the past few years and was credited with only a few missed run blocks. In fact, Oregon’s backs averaged well over 5 yards per carry running behind Forsyth.

Grade: B+

Overall Conclusions

This year’s draft might have not focused on the positions some of us thought Denver would hone in on, but I believe every player in this year’s draft gives Denver potential starters down the road. It’s a draft where special teams impact will be felt immediately, but it will likely take a few years for most of these players hit their stride as starters.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Mims and Sanders eventually became Pro-Bowl caliber players and top-tier difference makers in the league. And if a few of the other selections can reach a second contract in Denver and contribute decently, I’d consider that a successful draft. We will just have to wait and see how things turn out.

P.S.—Getting Adam Trautman via trade was a wise decision and should help the Broncos out next year. Not a bad secondary move considering their top tight end targets went off the board before the third-round.