For the first time since 2012, the Denver Broncos will not make a selection in the first round of the NFL draft.
And they’re perfectly fine with that.
When the Broncos acquired quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seahawks in a March blockbuster trade, Denver sent a plethora of players and picks to Seattle in return, including its first round picks for both the 2022 and 2023 NFL Drafts. With this deal, the Broncos decided that sacrificing their first-round draft picks was worth it to gain the security that Wilson brings as a tried-and-tested veteran quarterback. And considering Denver has had 11 different quarterbacks under center in the last six years, general manager George Paton said the trade-off was completely worth it.
“It’s a blessing. We love having first-round picks. We love having the early second, but we also love having a franchise quarterback that sets the tone every day in the building,” Paton said Friday during a pre-draft press conference. “I come in here and he’s here working. There is a reason he’s great. It’s because of the work he puts into it … On that first day (of the draft), we’ll watch Russell Wilson highlights.”
And so, for the first time since the year that Wilson himself was drafted, the Broncos will not be amongst the teams jostling for the top 32 picks in the draft. But, Paton remains unconcerned about Denver’s prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, as even without the picks they sent away, the Broncos will have nine selections in this year’s draft, five of which will be in the first four rounds. That is more than 19 other teams, and only seven have double-digits picks. Paton said even without the early selections, the Broncos will still be able to meet all of the team’s needs with those picks.
“I think we’re in a really good spot,” he said. “I think there’s going to be value in those rounds where we can upgrade our team, upgrade our depth, and upgrade our speed which is everything we need to do.”
With the Broncos set to make their first selection at the end of the second round at No. 64 overall, followed by two more picks in each of the next two rounds, there is still an opportunity for Denver to move up or down during the draft. But Paton said if any upward moves are made, they likely would not bring the Broncos into the first round, instead just positioning them higher in the second.
“When we get to that second day, we’ll be on the phone calling every team. We’ll have an idea of what we want to do on that second day, especially as it starts dropping to the mid rounds,” Paton said. “Then we’ll decide do we want to move, do we want to stand pat, or do we want to move back? That kind of depends on who is there and how many players that we like are there.”
However things play out when the draft starts next week, Paton and his team will be comforted by the knowledge that those picks were put to good use in securing Wilson.
“It’s tough to wait that long, and there’s going to be players falling. I know I’m going to get jumpy. The room will get jumpy,” Paton said. “But when I walk over here to this presser and I see our quarterback throwing to all those receivers, I feel pretty good about it. I know I’m going to feel good Week 1 because we have a franchise quarterback who brings it every day.”
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