Following the Denver Broncos trading for superstar quarterback Russell Wilson, what does general manager George Paton have up his sleeves for the 2022 NFL Draft?
General manager George Paton and the Denver Broncos made arguably the biggest splash of the offseason thus far, acquiring Super Bowl champion and future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Russell Wilson. The team has been in search of a leader at quarterback ever since Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset as a champion following the 2015 NFL season.
It was a hefty price to pay to bring in Wilson, as the team sent three draft picks in 2022 and two more in 2023. Two of those picks fall in round one, two more fall in round two, and the final one is a fifth-round pick this year. Along with those picks, they also sent: quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive lineman Shelby Harris. That is a mouthful, but when you get a quarterback the caliber of Russell Wilson (and a fourth-round pick in 2022), it is a price that any team should be willing to pay.
With the biggest hole on the roster filled, Paton then turned his attention to adding a premier pass rusher. A Von Miller reunion was never seriously considered, but the rumors of Chandler Jones were very real. Ultimately, the Denver Broncos decided to spend their money on a less-proven but younger option — Randy Gregory. Gregory, and the entire football world, thought that the pass rusher was going to stay in Dallas for the foreseeable future. However, after agreeing to a deal, it is alleged that the Cowboys didn’t operate in good faith, leading Gregory to withdraw his commitment.
It didn’t take long at all for Gregory to find a willing partner on the open market. Following a six-sack campaign in 2021, the former second-round pick out of Nebraska parlayed it into a lucrative five-year deal. This comes with a high degree of risk, considering Gregory’s checkered past with suspensions and injuries. He has only appeared in more than 12 games one time in his career, and Bradley Chubb has failed to play in more than half of the games in two of his past three seasons. For a team that desperately needs production from its’ pass rushers, there is a lot of risk betting on a full slate from either guy.
Another major need on the roster is the right tackle position. Last years’ starter, Bobby Massie, remains on the free agent market. The 10-year veteran lineman provided solid, but unspectacular play on the right side. The team recently signed Billy Turner away from Green Bay, reuniting Turner with his former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, and the team that he spent three seasons with earlier in his career. Turner isn’t terrible, but he certainly isn’t great either. At worst, he’s a lateral move compared to Massie. The former Packer is not a viable option long-term though, giving the Broncos reason to find a future option sooner rather than later.
The linebacker position is not in the best shape, but it could be a lot worse. Baron Browning looks like he was a steal in last years’ draft, and Josey Jewell was re-signed to provide some stability at the position. Outside of these two, there’s not much to be inspired by. Slot cornerback, Bryce Callahan, is another player that remains without a contract. He did not perform well in 2021, and it’s expected that both he and the team are in favor of a change of scenery. Kareem Jackson’s departure leaves a vacancy at safety alongside all-pro Justin Simmons, so keep an eye on that group during the lead up to the 2022 NFL Draft.
Denver Broncos: 2022 NFL Draft Targets At Pick 64
George Paton has had a phenomenal start to his tenure, including a draft haul of the following players in the 2021 NFL Draft:
•CB Patrick Surtain ll
•RB Javonte Williams
•OL Quinn Meinerz
•LB Baron Browning
•S Caden Sterns
•DL Jonathan Cooper
Following the Russell Wilson trade, Paton is painted into a corner with his first pick being the final selection of round two. However, it can be a bit misleading because between picks 64 and 115, the Broncos will come up to the podium five times. They don’t have the luxury of a premier pick, but to get five cracks at it within the first four rounds, after already acquiring Wilson, is a great spot to be in.
Now that we have an idea of the current state of the roster following free agency, let’s take a look at six of the most likely options at No.64 overall for the Denver Broncos, three on offense and three on defense.