The Denver Broncos are in a weird spot going into this year’s draft.
At the start of last year’s offseason, the Broncos made the big decision to stop trying their hand at drafting and developing a young quarterback. After Peyton Manning’s retirement, the Broncos and general manager John Elway had swung and missed several times in the draft, so they pivoted to a new strategy: bringing in a battle-tested veteran.
So Denver started the 2022 offseason with a bang, trading for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. In doing so, they gave up two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a fifth-round pick as well as quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive lineman Shelby Harris. After giving up that haul, Wilson’s first season in Denver did not end the way the Broncos hoped. They fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett in the middle of the season amidst Wilson’s struggles, finished 5-12, bad enough to secure Seattle the fifth overall pick, and now are stuck without a pick until No. 67 overall (a third-rounder) after also trading a recouped first-round pick (from trading away edge rusher Bradley Chubb) for head coach Sean Payton. They now have just five total selections in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Broncos are obviously in need of some upgrades across the roster and will have to try their best to make those upgrades with the draft capital they have left. With that in mind, here are three players they should look to target with that 67th overall pick.
Joe Tippman OC, Wisconsin
Denver made some significant moves to bolster their offensive line in free agency to begin this offseason. Former 49er Mike McGlinchey was a huge addition at right tackle as one of the best offensive tackles available on the free agent market. Former Raven Ben Powers has started at both guard positions and gives the Broncos more talent in the middle of their formation, which was a weak point last year. Left tackle Garett Bolles and right guard Quinn Meinerz are sticking around as two strong returners. Center, however, is a position that could still use an upgrade after the Broncos released Graham Glasgow.
Tippman is one of the best centers in the draft class thanks to the power and athleticism he showed off on tape, especially as a run blocker. He could be a day-one starter in Denver and bring all of that athleticism as well as a high football IQ, plenty of experience, and great leadership to the middle of the offensive line.
Zach Charbonnet RB, UCLA
The aforementioned additions to the offensive line—McGlinchey, Powers, and potentially Tippman—are three guys that thrive especially as run blockers up front. Lead Broncos running back Javonte Williams could be back in time for the start of the season after a grisly knee injury at the start of the 2022 season, but Denver needs guys that can fill in if he’s not back in time. They signed Samaje Perine in free agency, which was a solid move, but he hasn’t proven that he can be a long-term lead back without more than 100 rushes since his rookie season in 2017 and is entering his age-38 season.
Charbonnet might be the best running back in this class not named Bijan or Jahmyr. He’s a downhill back that can lower his shoulder and find holes, using his excellent contact balance to break through any arm tackles and find his way to the open field. He’s a quick back that has good elusiveness to pair with that contact balance as a bigger guy and could absolutely fill in as an RB1 if called upon or take an RB2 role if Williams is back in time.
Isaiah Foskey EDGE, Notre Dame
One of the biggest surprise moves of last offseason was edge rusher Randy Gregory’s decision to head to Denver instead of returning to Dallas. Then Gregory missed all but six games in 2022 with injuries, and the Broncos traded away Chubb ahead of the midseason trade deadline. To make matters worse, their sacks leader from 2022, Dre’Mont Jones, departed in free agency. Denver needs rotational edge-rushing depth behind Gregory, Baron Browning, and newcomer Zach Allen. Foskey was an explosive playmaker on Notre Dame’s defensive front that would bring all of that upside as a pass rusher to Denver.
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