The Broncos’ offseason is here and with it comes a ton of questions: Who’s going to be the head coach? Who’s going to be the starting quarterback? Heck, who’s going to be the owner come next season?
One thing’s for sure, Denver has the No. 9 overall pick in the NFL draft for the second straight year. Last April, general manager George Paton selected Pat Surtain II with the team’s top selection. The rookie lived up to the hype, snagging four interceptions in 16 games as he showed glimpses of becoming an elite cornerback in the future.
What will Paton do in his second draft for Denver? Opinions from national analysts range from quarterbacks to offensive linemen to one prospect who could possibly fall from the No. 1 overall spot.
Here’s a look at who national draftniks are thinking will land in Denver.
Sporting News | Vinnie Iyer | Updated Jan. 17
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
“The Broncos will have a quarterback decision to make and can’t afford to ignore the position in the first round, remembering former coach Vic Fangio’s final lamentation about not having a reliable passer. They must target another franchise QB with shrewd GM George Paton to clean up the Teddy Bridgewater-Drew Lock mess. Corral is a dynamic athlete and confident runner who also shows aggressiveness with a big arm. He quickly refined his raw skills under Lane Kiffin.” See the full mock draft.
Sports Illustrated | Zack Patraw | Updated Jan. 17
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
“Keeping a wide base with great knee bend, Cross stays on balance and can recover quickly because of it. His reactive quickness to mirror in pass protection is excellent. Anchoring at an above-average level, he uses his base to maximize his strength.” See the full mock draft.
247Sports | Brad Crawford | Updated Jan. 17
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
“One of college football’s leading tacklers who always seem to diagnose plays before they happen, Georgia’s Nakobe Dean stood out during the College Football Playoff as the best linebacker on the field for any of the four participants. He should ascend to All-Pro honors quickly at the next level given his skill set and upside.” See the full mock draft.
CBS Sports | Chris Trapasso | Updated Jan. 13
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
“The Broncos have to address linebacker, regardless of who the next coach is. Dean is a cerebral lightning bolt on the field.” See the full mock draft.
USA Today | Luke Easterling | Updated Jan. 13
Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
“Quarterback is a possibility here, but don’t be surprised if the Broncos look for a veteran instead of reaching for a rookie in a weak class here. Instead, they should use this pick to bolster the offensive line, and Ekwonu was an all-conference pick at both guard and tackle.” See the full mock draft.
- Second round, 40th pick: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
- Second round, 60th pick: Haskell Garrett, DL, Ohio State
- Third round, 75th pick: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
- Third round, 91st pick: Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
Pro Football Focus | Austin Gayle | Updated Jan. 17
Sam Howell, QB, UNC
“Howell watched his top receivers and top running backs go onto the NFL while he stayed back at Chapel Hill, and he still managed to earn a 90.0 PFF grade in 2021. The drop-off in talent with his supporting cast took a baseball bat to UNC’s chances in the ACC, but Howell still showed out as one of college football’s top signal-callers. He has a rocket arm with plus mobility for the position, enough for Denver to pull the trigger on his talents at No. 9 overall.” See the full mock draft.
CBS Sports | Ryan Wilson | Updated Jan. 17
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
“There will be plenty of teams talking themselves into QBs in this draft and the Broncos (along with Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, WFT, Pittsburgh and Detroit) will be in the running in a decidedly weak class. Pickett had a great 2021 season for Pitt and he’ll have several opportunities during the pre-draft process, starting with the Senior Bowl, to prove he’s QB1. For now, we’ll wait to see if any of those Rodgers-to-Denver rumors from last offseason materialize in the coming weeks and months.” See the full mock draft.
SB Nation | James Dator | Updated Jan. 11
Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
“If you look at most mocks Thibodeaux goes in the top three. Here’s my thinking: He’s brilliant, and he’s raw. Thibaodeaux relies on raw athleticism and not technique to generate his pressure. We’ve seen this work in the past, we’ve also seen in blow up in the faces of drafting teams. … It’s for this reason I have him sliding a little lower. Certainly not out of the top 10, but to Denver where I think he can become a natural replacement for Von Miller and his ability is too good to pass up.” See the full mock draft.
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