The Denver Broncos only had five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft thanks to their trades for quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Sean Payton over the last two seasons. What they did with those five picks is worthy of some praise.
As a result of the lack of draft capital, the Broncos turned to free agency in a big way to fill some of their most pressing roster holes. To date, Denver still boasts the highest amount of money spent this offseason, dealing out more than $240 million in contracts thus far. They enhanced their offensive line by bringing in guard Ben Powers and tackle Mike McGlinchey, two of the best upgrade options available in free agency. The Broncos also signed defensive end Zach Allen to help defend against the run effectively and bring some pressure up the middle on passing downs.
After a strong start to free agency, it was up to general manager George Paton to keep the strong offseason rolling with a good draft. Obviously, with just five picks and none before the third round, Paton had to get a bit creative to make the Broncos’ draft class a success. Ultimately, Denver made three trades—but still made just five selections—and really made the most of a class that could have been underwhelming given the small volume of picks.
The first draft move for the Broncos was trading up into the second round to take Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. off the board. Mims is an excellent addition to a wide receivers room that needed some (healthy) depth behind Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. He’s a burner with excellent speed and great ball skills which led to phenomenal production in 2022—over 1,000 receiving yards while averaging over 20 yards per catch. It’s a great move that gives Wilson another talented receiver to throw to and Payton another athletic player with high upside to work with.
Speaking of athletic players with high upside, the Broncos’ second selection of the draft might have been their best: linebacker Drew Sanders out of Arkansas. Sanders is arguably the best linebacker in the 2023 draft class and Denver was able to take him in the third round. It was incredible value for a player that can get to work as an off-ball linebacker and a pass rusher. He’s the kind of jack-of-all-trades defender that will really help a Broncos team that could use some help generating pressure now that Bradley Chubb is in Miami.
With its final three picks in the draft, Denver brought in help for their secondary and a final piece for their offensive line with cornerback Riley Moss, safety JL Skinner, and center Alex Forsyth. Moss has the potential to be the Broncos’ CB2 across from Patrick Surtain II, bumping Damarri Mathis to CB3. Skinner has a potential future as Denver’s strong safety given his versatility playing deep or closer to the line of scrimmage against the run and the pass thanks to his unique, 6-foot-4 size. Forsyth is a depth pick as a seventh-rounder, but there’s some future upside to him as well as a 2022 second-team All-American at center, which was another position of need for Denver.
The Broncos may not have had the biggest draft class, but they were able to maximize its potential by making wise trades and selecting good athletes with all five of their picks. Denver needs to take a step forward in 2023 after a brutal 2022 season, and this offseason has been a good start.
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