As we take early steps toward the 2022 NFL Draft, NFL analysts are starting to feel out potential targets for the Broncos and other teams with their top picks.
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports (March 7): CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, Cincinnati
Drafting CBs with back-to-back first-round picks might seem like overkill, but Denver will lose some members of its secondary to free agency, and more than that, they also play in a division that includes Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
James Dator, SB Nation (March 7): DT Jordan Davis
The combine performances of the DL duo, Jordan Davis and Travon Walker were on an entire other level. Both players were inhuman in Indianapolis, redefining how men of their size move and carry themselves. When we look at production in the NFL, plus what teams crave, so much of it hinges on versatility. I don't want to get too hyperbolic comparing anyone to Aaron Donald, but I will say that both Davis and Walker have similar traits that will allow them to move around the defensive line and work almost any position.
Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire (March 6): QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports (March 2): CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, Cincinnati
Gardner glides around the field and plays the ball outstandingly in the air. Lockdown tandem in Denver.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN (March 1): DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State (via trade)
Johnson is one of the biggest risers of the past month; he dominated at the Senior Bowl, showing that his 12 sacks after transferring from Georgia weren't a fluke.
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com (March 1): ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah
The versatile Lloyd is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker with exceptional instincts, awareness and ball skills.
Walter Cherepinsky, WalterFootball (March 1): DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Ambassador Von Miller is gone, so the Broncos will want to find a bookend for Bradley Chubb in order to improve their pass rush even more. This is necessary in a division comprised of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
Luke Easterling, DraftWire (March 1): ILB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
This defense could use an athletic, physical linebacker who can make big plays on all three downs. That's exactly what Dean did this past season for the most dominant defense in college football, helping lead the Bulldogs to a national title.
Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus (Feb. 28): DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Karlaftis is a powerful edge defender who fits a need in the Broncos' front seven. He recorded a 90.9 pass-rush grade last season and one of the best pass-rush win rates in recent years, but he still needs to clean up some of his work in the run game.
Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports (Feb. 26): DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
Johnson has been flying up draft boards over the last month, and it's not hard to see why. He left Georgia because it was hard to crack the rotation, but that's more about the ridiculous depth the Bulldogs had at the position than Johnson's ability. He's a disruptive force.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com (Feb. 22): DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
Johnson continues to check every box. He followed up a productive fall with a dominant week at the Senior Bowl. Denver could draft a QB but there are veteran options available.
Todd McShay, ESPN (Feb. 16): ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Lloyd plays fast, is rangy and has great recognition skills. I have Georgia's Nakobe Dean ranked higher, but I'm hearing some teams like Lloyd a bit more. He's a plug-and-play starter who can be Denver's leader on defense.
Danny Kelly, The Ringer (Feb. 15): T Charles Cross, Mississippi State
After building out their skill position corps over the past few years, Denver looks to beef up the offensive line with Cross, who fills a need at the right tackle spot.
Chad Reuter, NFL.com (Feb. 14): QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Pickett's double-jointed thumb should not distract people from his ability to lead an offense. The Broncos will appreciate his underrated athleticism and competitive nature.
Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com (Feb. 11): ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah
My model also doesn't believe that any of the draft-eligible QBs are prudent picks at No. 9 overall (especially in this no-trades-allowed mock). Now that that's out of the way, we can talk about Lloyd, given one of the highest ceilings in this entire class by my model, in large part due to his high production in each of the areas he was asked to handle: blitzing off the edge, coverage, taking on blocks and covering tight ends, among others.