By Simon Carroll

The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 262 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2022. We continue our team by team series with the Denver Broncos:

Draft Haul

264Nik BonittoEDGEOklahoma
380Greg DulcichTEUCLA
4115Damarri MathisCBPitt
4116Eyioma UwazurikeIDLIowa State
5152Delarrin Turner-YellSOklahoma
5162Montrell WashingtonWRSamford
5171Luke WattenbergIOLWashington
6206Matt HenningsenIDLWisconsin
7232Faion HicksCBWisconsin

Day One

Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Thanks to their offseason blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks for quarterback Russell Wilson, The Denver Broncos were ultimately rendered spectators on the opening evening of draft night. Whilst it does me no favours with regards to a draft review, it is difficult to argue with the logic of the trade; regardless of your opinion on Drew Lock, a new regime had zero responsibility to give the former Missouri gunslinger a fair crack at the job. And it’s not every day a Super Bowl winning, bonafide franchise quarterback is so openly on the trade block…

Russell Wilson was never going to come at a discount rate, and the cost of the trade reflects that. Lock went the opposite direction, as did starters Shelby Harris and Noah Fant, plus first and second round picks both this year and the next. Ultimately it’s a price worth paying – Wilson gives the Broncos a real shot at competing in the ultra-competitive AFC West, something you could not say before his arrival.

Day Two

Credit: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Broncos, despite also giving their second round pick to the Seahawks for Wilson, still had two selections on day two courtesy of the LA Rams’ trade for Von Miller. With the final selection of the second round, George Paton selected Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto, somewhat fitting that he was using draft capital acquired from Miller to find his eventual replacement. Bonitto comes slightly undersized, but has an incredible athletic profile that he showcased at the NFL combine. His speed off the snap will see him command snaps as a designated pass rusher early, but ultimately a rotational role with fellow rushers Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory will likely be what Hackett and the coaching staff have in mind for the former Sooner.

Denver opted to trade the third rounder acquired from the Rams-Miller deal to Indianapolis, but stood pat with their own third round selection, taking UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich with the 80th overall pick. Considering the aforementioned Noah Fant’s departure as a makeweight in the Russell Wilson trade, tight end was likely a position they would target early in this draft – and in Dulcich they’ve found an almost like-for-like replacement. One of the best receiving tight ends in the class, Dulcich has the ability to stress defenses vertically down the seam, and is a menace with the ball in his hand. He immediately competes with Albert ‘O’ for first team snaps, and rounds out a pretty impressive set of weapons for their new quarterback.

Day Three

Paton and his front office team were very busy on the final day of the draft, with seven selections made in the final four rounds. After taking Patrick Surtain, Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson in 2021, The Broncos plied more resources into the secondary with the picks of Damarri Mathis (4th), Delarrin Turner-Yell (5th) and Faion Hicks (7th). In a division that has Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr and Justin Herbert under center, this is probably a wise move.

“Delarrin Turner-Yell is an intriguing blend of traits that allows the former Sooner to do a lot of things, but doesn’t quite deliver the full package in any particular role. The first thing you notice when you watch the tape is his speed; DTY flies around the field and is always in and amongst the action. Turner-Yell has all the quicks to keep up with receivers or make it to the catch point but has challenges affecting the reception due to a lack of height. In the run game, Turner-Yell brings the tenacity and physicality you hope for but with a disregard for the discipline the role demands, and for every big play he makes he can be guilty of giving up big gains. DTY’s urgency is suited to special teams, and if he can add some finesse his ceiling is perhaps as a rotational split-safety with both run and pass responsibilities.”
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Simon Carroll
Head Of NFL Draft Content

Further additions to the interior of the defensive line in Eyioma Uwazurike and Matt Henningsen mitigate for the loss of Harris to Seattle, and a position of strength was fortified with the selection of Luke Wattenberg, who will provide backup for all three positions on the interior of the offensive line. In amongst these moves, Samford wide receiver Montrell Washington was also taken in the 5th round, a small school pass catcher whose long speed gives this offense another vertical threat alongside forgotten 2020 first rounder KJ Hamler.

One To Watch: Damarri Mathis

Having enjoyed Mathis’ tape through his eval, I was intrigued to see where the physical corner would end up – and in terms of a landing spot, he couldn’t have asked for better than Mile High Stadium. The outside corners in Denver are entrenched, with Surtain and Ronald Darby providing as good a cornerback tandem as any in the NFL. Mathis is an ultra-physical corner who breaks onto the football at lightning speed and lives to be a pest at the catch point. Sticky in coverage, Mathis projects to challenge K’Waun Williams as the teams slot corner as he finds his feet at the next level.

Mathis has just modest length, and may attract a lot more attention from the referees as a professional with his no holds barred style of defense. But there’s plenty of upside to play with, and with Darby’s heavy contract guaranteed throughout 2022 but very easy to move on from the year after, Mathis has a pathway to become the long-term CB2 for the Broncos, should he realise his potential.

UDFA Tracker

Jalen VirgilWRAppalachian State
Brandon JohnsonWRUCF
Cortez DavisCBHawaii
Ja’Quan McMillianCBEast Carolina
Rodney WilliamsTEUT-Martin
Dylan ParhamTENC State
Tyreik McAllisterRBCharleston
Christopher AllenEDGEAlabama

Denver weren’t as active as some teams in the free agent frenzy that follows the culmination of draft weekend, picking up just eight more bodies to fill out their training camp roster. Notably, a significant focus on pass catchers was noted, with two receivers and two tight ends added to the group. Without reading too much into these no-risk moves, there’ perhaps the thought that the new regime are looking at cheap ways to diversify their offense and make the most out of their new quarterback.

Credit: Alabama Athletics

One player to keep an eye on from this UDFA haul would be former Alabama edge rusher Christopher Allen; beset by injuries during his time in Tuscaloosa, Allen simply didn’t have the amount of game time he needed to hone his craft under Nick Saban. That being said, there’s no doubting the measurables he possesses or the versatility he can bring to a defensive front – he’s adept at setting the edge in an odd front or providing pocket pressure from the outside with his hand in the dirt. Many saw Allen as a late round sleeper, so for Denver to snag him after the draft was over represents an excellent bit of business.


For a roster that didn’t really have a lot of holes, The Denver Broncos did well to mitigate any perceived weaknesses in their workforce early in this draft; the key departures of Noah Fant and Von Miller were immediately addressed, despite having limited draft capital. This allowed them to look for value picks on day three, where they had more selections to play with.

Ultimately though, the 2022 draft picks will not be the determining factor as to the success of George Paton, Nathaniel Hackett and the rest of the new braintrust in Denver. A lot is riding on the shoulders of Russell Wilson to recapture his best form in an orange and blue uniform, and many fans will be reminiscing about Peyton Manning’s swansong at Mile High. If their new quarterback is able to add another Lombardi into this illustrious franchise’s trophy cabinet, then the trade will be deemed a success – and nobody will be wondering ‘what if’, when they look back at this year’s draft haul.

The AFC West is going to be off the hook in 2022, and the Denver Broncos look ready for the fight. Game on.

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