It’s that time of year again. The offseason is officially here and now we start looking towards how the Broncos can improve their team and get themselves back into the postseason. For the first time in two years, the Broncos have a first-round pick which opens up some conversation and debates that we could not have the prior two offseasons.
It’s still very early, but the mock drafts are coming in fast and furious now that we have hit the offseason. I will look through all the notable ones available and updated and give you who they believe or think the Denver Broncos will select in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.
Broncos select UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu in Mel Kiper’s first mock draft https://t.co/tqU2XDgxk2— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) January 23, 2024
I love Latu’s ability to bend the edge and get after the quarterback. He’s a toolsy pass-rusher who has a variety of moves and always has a plan of attack. He ranked second in the FBS in total pressures (57) and pressure rate (20.4%) this past season, and he ranked first in the same categories in 2022 (55 pressures, 19.1% pressure rate). And I did mention he had 23.5 sacks in that time frame. Those are two seasons of phenomenal production. The questions with Latu will come at the NFL Combine in a few weeks, as he medically retired from football because of a neck injury when he was at Washington in 2021. He was cleared to play for the Bruins, but what will his medical checkups show?
For Denver, Adding Latu would be a boost to a pass rush that was just OK last season. The Broncos tied for 21st with 42 sacks, but overall they ranked 30th in yards per play allowed (5.8) and 32nd in yards per carry allowed (5.0). Latu has the potential to become a 10-sack per-season defender.
The Broncos pair Pat Surtain II with Arnold, a polished cover corner. With exceptional instincts and awareness, the former Tide star is a scheme-friendly defensive playmaker on the perimeter.
I think Arnold could go as high as fifth overall. He’s the best cornerback in this draft and he would pair with Pat Surtain II to give the Broncos one of the best CB tandems in the league, if not the best.
Despite a questionable medical history, Laiatu Latu is this class’s most talented edge rusher. Possessing top-tier technical refinement, Latu has plenty of ways to get home as a rusher and does a solid job defending the run, as well. If the medicals check out for Latu, he should be the first edge rusher selected.
Expect Newton to climb up boards in the coming months. Like some of the other “undersized” tackle prospects over the last decade, he has the burst, quickness, and pass-rush arsenal to offset any of those concerns. It’s Newton’s leverage and ability to get into the body of offensive linemen that set him apart. He’s a versatile disruptor who would be a very nice addition to a Broncos’ defense that improved as the year went along.
The Broncos will work to get out of the Russell Wilson contract in the offseason given Sean Payton benched him late in the season and should be looking for his own QB solution going forward. Nix is an ideal prospect for Payton’s system with his arm, athleticism and accurate execution based on his experience.
The key here is to avoid forcing a pick at quarterback with what is left just because. This is a defense that has gone backwards two straight years and they are in a division run by one of the most efficient passing games in the NFL. McKinstry was rarely thrown at in 2023 but do not overlook how special a 1-2 punch of him and Patrick Surtain can be.
The second run on quarterbacks begins here. Bo Nix will be one of the more polarizing players in this class, but if you throw out the Auburn tape and just focus on his past two years at Oregon, you’ll see a franchise quarterback. He has an NFL arm, shows poise and good decision-making, and is an excellent athlete. Nix would be a great quarterback for Sean Payton to mold for his timing-based offense.
If there is one thing Laiatu Latu knows how to do, it’s rushing the passer. A true QB nightmare coming off the edge in a league where that skill is paramount on a defense, the Broncos are getting a good one.
Every team in the league will tell you that tackles and edge rushers are how you can be successful in this league, and with Latu staring them in the face at No. 12, the Broncos will be gitty to turn that card in.
The combination of Patrick Surtain II and Terrion Arnold gives Denver one of the best cornerback rooms in football, in theory. Sean Payton still has a gaping hole at quarterback to fix, but there are limited options if a team is not in a position to draft one early. Could Kirk Cousins be the answer?