The Denver Broncos are heavily invested in the Russell Wilson and Sean Payton era. Denver’s decision to acquire both Wilson and Payton in blockbuster trades one year apart has left them without first and second-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. General manager George Paton will be forced to get creative while attempting to fill needs in April’s draft.
The Broncos do have back-to-back selections in the third round. EDGE and various offensive line positions require upgrades. The Broncos could also benefit from adding better depth at running back and cornerback, too. Payton will be anxious to leave his fingerprints on Denver’s roster.
With that being said and with plenty of moves still to come ahead of April’s draft, here’s what a seven-round draft for the Broncos might look like if it happened now.
(Note: I completed this mock draft using the Beta version of our Mock Draft Machine 2.0, which you can access by becoming a TDN Premium member!)
Round 3 (No. 68 overall): Will McDonald IV EDGE, Iowa State
A midseason trade that sent Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins left the Broncos a little thin at the pass-rushing positions. Baron Browning began coming into his own after a position change but requires more seasoning. Free-agent prize signing Randy Gregory was limited to 2.0 sacks and six regular-season appearances.
Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV would immediately add a playmaking presence to Denver’s current group. McDonald possesses the first-step explosiveness to win the outside on a consistent basis. McDonald can also reduce inside on 3rd-and-obvious passing situations, allowing the Broncos to get Gregory, McDonald, and Browning on the field together.
Round 3 (No. 69 overall): Julius Brents CB, Kansas State
Patrick Surtain II has quickly developed into one of the league’s best young cornerbacks. The problem? Playing in the AFC West alongside the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert means Denver’s secondary will be regularly tested. The Broncos’ lack of cornerback depth opposite Surtain came into play when veteran cover-man Ronald Darby went on IR in November.
Julius Brents is a long and physically imposing cornerback prospect with the speed, patience, size, and ball skills necessary to thrive in the NFL. Brents could immediately slot into Denver’s starting lineup. Finding ways to limit Kansas City’s passing attack has to play a role in Denver’s offseason plans.
Round 4 (No. 109 overall): Steve Avila OG, TCU
Starting left guard Dalton Risner is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and isn’t expected back in Denver next season. Quinn Meinerz will occupy one of the starting guard spots, but Risner’s departure will need to be filled. TCU’s Steve Avila is more than capable of being a plug-and-play guard.
Avila entered this year’s Senior Bowl with some questions regarding his schematic versatility. Avila put those concerns to bed in Mobile. He proved he possesses enough foot speed and overall athleticism to be scouted as a universal prospect. Avila would immediately fill a sizable hole on Denver’s offensive line.
Round 5 (No. 142 overall): Devon Achane RB, Texas A&M
Part of the plan to get Wilson back on track must include strengthening Denver’s rushing attack. The Broncos averaged a disappointing 113.8 rushing yards per contest last season. Javonte Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury and the aging, free-agent-to-be Latavius Murray led the team in rushing.
Drafting Achane would protect the Broncos while Williams continues to work through a long road to full recovery. Achane is an explosive ball-carrier that’s a threat to take it the distance on any given play. Achane’s ability to double as an effective pass-catcher makes him an especially intriguing prospect.
Round 6 (No. 196 overall): Jerrod Clark DT, Coastal Carolina
Dre’Mont Jones and DeShawn Williams are scheduled to reach free agency in March. Retaining Jones should be a priority, but Denver will require better depth at the position even if they manage to re-sign him.
Coastal Carolina’s Jerrod Clark is an exciting small-schooler that moves exceptionally well for his size (6-3, 343 verified). Clark is a high-level run stuffer that can occupy multiple gaps.
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