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Broncos off to 'good start' in 2022 NFL Draft, adding pair of impact players and three picks


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Through two days, the Broncos' draft has gone according to plan.

Denver, after sitting out the first round on Thursday, added a pair of quality players on Friday night and also armed itself for the future.

"[It was a] good day today," General Manager George Paton said at the conclusion of Round 3. "I thought we had a really productive day."

The Broncos added Oklahoma outside linebacker Nik Bonitto with the 64th-overall pick before trading back a few spots from No. 75 to select UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich with the 80th-overall pick. In the process, Denver also added two 2022 fifth-round picks and a 2023 third-round pick after trading the 96th-overall pick.

The player haul may have been limited, but it should be impactful. Paton called Bonitto "one of the better pass rushers coming out," and the Oklahoma product should add to a group that already includes Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory.

"Just the bend, the speed, the burst," Paton said of Bonitto's skill set. "Very natural. At Oklahoma, he had a lot of production. He needs to get a little stronger, but we didn't anticipate him being there and so we're fortunate. He'll add to our group. We'll have a very good wave with NIk. I think it's going to be great. Really good competition."

Paton said the move to draft Bonitto was made independently of Gregory's recovery and Chubb's injury struggles.

"We just took him [because] he was the best player on the board and he'll add," Paton said. "They're all different. … They're all unique, they're all different. He just adds a little more explosion. I think I said in maybe our last presser, you want a wave of pass rushers. He's done a lot. He's lined up on the edge, he's played stacked, they blitzed him, he spied. He's pretty dynamic in what he does. He'll just make the group stronger. And that's what you need in this division, that's what you need in this league."

The Broncos will look for Bonitto to get stronger to help set the edge in the run game, but he was a prized addition — one that the Broncos almost traded up to acquire.

"We were tempted, and we had a lot of conversations," Paton said. "It just worked out. We didn't have to trade up. We were really close — we were on the clock. We had a pretty good deal, but there were three or four players we liked. And so we waited it out."

Paton said the Broncos also considered trading up for Dulcich, but the team initially traded back five spots from the 75th-overall pick. When he remained available at No. 80, Denver called in the pick.

"From a tight end standpoint, those guys are always the most unique dynamic guys out on the field because they can do so many different things," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said. "I think when you have a guy who can stretch the field like he can, I think it's really exciting."

Dulcich, who caught 10 touchdowns over the last two seasons, will join a tight end room that includes Albert Okwuegbunam and Eric Tomlinson.

The Broncos' haul, though, can only be measured with the draft capital also considered. Denver now holds eight picks on Day 3, and the Broncos added a pick for the 2023 draft. Prior to Friday, Denver held just four picks in 2023; now, the Broncos own a pair of third-round picks, which will be their first selections of the draft.

As the Broncos aim to gain flexibility for next season, Paton and Co. may not be done making trades.

"It was critical," Paton said of adding a 2023 pick. "And we may do that tomorrow as well, try to add for next year. We have five [picks], we had four. We'll keep doing that."

In totality, the Broncos' combination of players and picks formed a solid foundation for the beginning of Denver's 2022 draft class.

"A successful draft [would be] just getting good quality players that fit this culture," Paton said. "Smart, tough, physical football players that love to play the game, and we talk about that a lot. And we want talented football players, we want good people off the field. We need depth. Obviously we want starters, but we want good, quality, young depth. So I think we have a chance to do that. We're off to a good start, and tomorrow we're looking forward to the eight picks."

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