Perfect Picks 2024: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos finished the season with an 8-9 record. It was a tumultuous year to say the least. The Sean Payton – Russell Wilson dynamic certainly grabbed the most headlines and it’s not clear how that will resolve itself going forwards. On the defensive side of the ball there were issues but also building blocks to move forward with.

As part of our Perfect Picks series, Julian Cordova gives you his selections for the Broncos 2024 draft, as well as going in-depth on four players from each stage of the weekend.

Round 1 - Jer'Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

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Denver’s defense was not good this year. Obviously the beginning of the season was putrid, but Denver’s in-season turnaround was in large part to their defense.

However, this was entirely due to the unusual amount of turnovers happening in Denver’s favor. The formula was simple–if they won the turnover battle, they were winning the game.

However, disregarding the turnovers the defense was still swiss cheese against both the pass and the run. 

Well hello Jer’Zhan Newton, the solution to one-and-a-half of your problems. One, he’s a brilliant pass rusher from the 3-tech position so naturally he’ll play phenomenally across from Zach Allen. The half, well run defense isn’t a strong suite but it also isn’t a weakness.

Honestly there’s few weaknesses to discuss about Johnny Newton. He’s no Aaron Donald (although he shares some similarities) but we’re talking about a potential all-pro lineman in the trenches for the weakest unit in Denver–Mr. Unlimited pending.

Round 3 - Austin Booker, Edge, Kansas

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While Newton will help the pass rush no doubt, there’s only so much an interior defensive lineman can do. Plus in a Vance Joseph defense you need to create as much pressure with as few. men as possible. He rarely blitzes and almost never uses more than 4 rushers.

In this scenario DJ Jones is likely cut, and Jer’Zhan Newton is drafted, your even front is featuring Browning, Allen, Newton and, depending on the down, either Cooper or Bonnito. While I like both Cooper and Bonnito, more than likely their maximized role is gonna be as designated pass rushers. I say if we can get a fourth consistent guy in that front 4, we take a step forward. 

That’s where Austin Booker comes in. Pretty perfect for what I was just describing because Booker is a pure pass rusher, at an admittedly slight frame of 6’4’’, 240 lbs. However, he definitely knows how to use this more slender frame because his bend is great and his get-off is eye-candy.

He may take a year to get to what you’re drafting him for, but when he gets there he will be an above average pass rusher.

Mid Round Gem - Qwan'Tez Stiggers, Cornerback, Toronto Argonauts, CFL)

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After three picks, where all three have been on the defensive side of the ball, should we grab a guy on the offense? Nah, Payton has all his own guys from New Orleans and free agency. We’re gonna continue to take stabs at some young potential contributors to what was again one of the worst defenses in football last year.

Since we’ve now addressed the defensive line, the edge position, and linebacker (check the full draft below), let’s venture to the secondary.

Qwan’Tez Stiggers is one of my favorite players in this class. Growing up in a family with thirteen children, Stiggers lost his father during his freshman year at Lane College, Tennessee while on athletic scholarship. This led him to some dark times before he dropped out of college. His mother urged him to try out for fan-controlled-football which he played one season of before catching the eye of a former Canadian Football League offensive coordinator. When suggested he should try out for the CFL, he ended up signing with the Toronto Argonauts. While it was a long shot, not only did he make their roster with only high school experience, he would go on to win most outstanding rookie in the CFL last year.

Now he’s entering the NFL draft with no college experience – bar an East-West Shrine Bowl appearance. As far as Qwan’Tez the player goes, he showed out in the CFL, and he showed out at Shrine Bowl. He’s got speed, he’s got great range, he’s sticky, I think he’d be well worth picking to get a better look at.

Late Round Sleeper - Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan

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Ok fine, we can’t go defense the whole draft. I do believe it’s a good idea to take an offensive weapon in every draft. Denver’s offensive situation is also a little weird at the moment. No idea what to do with QB, Javonte is still working back from his injury. One of Sutton or Jeudy is on their way out as well as Tim Patrick probably being gone. Trautman won’t cut it another year as the starting TE. The OL was good but inconsistent and the LT and the C are both potentially on their way out. So I’m sure a sixth-round receiver will help with that.

Cornelius Johnson is the best pick at receiver for Denver at this point of the draft in my opinion. He stands at a confident 6’2’’, 205 (adjusting for college inflation) and provides about all the basics you want from a potential #3 wide receiver. Good at the catch point, capable of creating after the catch, can make those tougher catches, has worked well as the non-dominant receiver in a talented room.

To me, this is the perfect Tim Patrick replacement with maybe the small caveat that I don’t expect a sub 4.5s dash from Johnson like Patrick had. Regardless, a late-round gem for whoever should get him.

Draft in full

Round 1 – Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Round 3 – Austin Booker, Edge, Kansas

Round 4 – Marist Liufau, LB, Notre Dame

Round 5 – Qwan’Tez Stiggers, CB, Toronto Argonauts (CFL)

Round 5 – McCallan Castles, TE, Tennessee

Round 6 – Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan

Julian Cordova

NFL Draft Contributor