Broncos Mock Draft: The first step toward correcting the Russell Wilson mishap

The Denver Broncos went all in on Russell Wilson last offseason, but neither side has lived up to its end of the deal. Now, Wilson is benched and the front office is left without an answer at quarterback. What comes next?
Nov 26, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton watches the first quarter
Nov 26, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton watches the first quarter / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are on the cusp of hitting the restart button at quarterback. While the roster has shown some flashes in 2023, the team cannot afford to invest such a large percentage of the salary cap to one player, ala Russell Wilson. In today’s mock draft, Wilson is released but a replacement will come from free agency instead.

Broncos Mock Draft: Establishing An Identity On Defense

The mock draft order is determined by the current standings at Tankathon, a real-time website that tracks the race for NFL Draft positioning. As of this writing, the Broncos sit at No. 14 overall, but that figures to change unless spot starter Jarrett Stidham can muster up some magic in relief of Wilson.

Without further ado, head coach Sean Payton begins putting a few finishing touches on the roster, preparing for a season of Jacoby Brissett at the helm. Denver lacks the 2024 assets to make a significant jump up the draft board for a top-rated quarterback, including a missing second-round pick owed to the Saints.

Instead, the Broncos address several holes on the roster and set up the future long-term signal-caller for success — whoever that may be. First up, a rangy, lengthy cornerback from Alabama.

Round 1, No. 14: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Broncos employ a former Alabama defensive back in Patrick Surtain II, but why not add a second? In this mock draft, Kool-Aid McKinstry, a press-coverage specialist, takes his talents to Mile High.

McKinstry’s versatility and willingness in the running game as a tackler will allow the defense to field a top duo in the league from Week 1. Opposing quarterbacks are already sweating when thinking about the new “No Fly Zone” in Denver.

Tory Horton Stays Home

Round 3, No. 76: Tory Horton, WR, Colorado State

Keeping Tory Horton, a superstar pass catcher from Colorado State, in the state is a win for Sean Payton and Co. Horton flexes NFL size, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing nearly 200 pounds. On top of that, the Rams standout boasts reliable hands, solid route running, and a desire to churn out yardage after the catch.

The Broncos face uncertainty in the wide receiver room, as Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy could both be in different uniforms for the 2024 season. Marvin Mims Jr. and Tory Horton will be a decent start as potential replacements for starter reps. But Denver isn’t done at the position in this mock draft.

Round 4, No. 130 (via MIA): Cole Bishop, SAF, Utah

The defense has an All-Pro talent in Justin Simmons in the backfield, but Kareem Jackson is north of 35, and Caden Sterns suffered a devastating injury to end his 2023 campaign, so another safety is required at the 2024 NFL Draft.

Utah’s leader, Cole Bishop, presents a steal on Day 3. Bishop is a tall, bulky safety who plays at a million miles a minute. He can stick with the speediest of assignments and shows the strength to hold up against the bigger targets like tight ends.

Cole Bishop is the perfect complement to Simmons for the Broncos.

Gabriel Murphy Could Be A Steal For Broncos

Round 5, No. 143 (via NYJ): Gabriel Murphy, EDGE, UCLA

Ideally, Denver will find a way to address the pass-rushing corps before No. 143 overall. But in this mock draft, the board did not fall in a way conducive to such an outcome. Instead, the Broncos take a shot on the less-heralded UCLA defender.

Gabriel Murphy gets lost in the shuffle behind future first-rounder and former teammate Laiatu Latu. But make no mistake, Murphy is a disruptive presence in his own right. He generated an astonishing 61 QB pressures in 2023 alone — a much-needed boost for the Orange and Blue.

Round 5, No. 144: Moose Muhammad III, WR, Texas A&M

With the aforementioned question marks at wide receiver, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in another high-upside pass catcher to the offense. Moose Muhammad III has blazing speed, a lethal one-cut ability, and a knack for creating a big play at the most crucial moments.

Round 7, No. 239 (via LAR): Andrew Raym, C, Oklahoma

Current center, Lloyd Cushenberry III, is having the best year of his career. But that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement to extend his contract. We are likely witnessing Cushenberry’s ceiling, and quality center play can be found for pennies on the dollar. Enter Oklahoma’s Andrew Raym.

Raym is a Senior Bowl invitee who will have a chance to boost his stock with a strong showing in Mobile. As it stands, the Sooner product profiles as a potential starting center on Sundays thanks to his size, polished hand usage, and quick burst off the snap.

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