ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the 2022 NFL Draft nears, it's time to evaluate the Broncos' options for when they arrive on the clock.
Denver is without a first-round pick after trading for Russell Wilson, but the Broncos will see a flurry of action on Day 2 when their first pick arrives.
The Broncos are slated to make their first pick at No. 64 — the final pick of the second round — and again at No. 75 and No. 96 in the third round.
What exactly should the Broncos do to bolster their roster when it's their turn to select?
Below, we explore three of the Broncos' possible options when the 64th-overall pick arrives.
Option 1: Make the picks
While it seems likely that General Manager George Paton will execute a trade at some point on draft weekend — he made three alone on Day 2 last year — we'll start by exploring the Broncos' choices if they stay put and pick.
A recent ESPN mock draft slotted Central Michigan tackle Bernhard Raimann to Denver at No. 64, Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma to the team at No. 75 and Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto to the Broncos at No. 96. That slew of players — or a collection like it — would give the Broncos a trio of well-respected prospects that also come at areas of relative need.
While the Broncos filled most of their immediate needs in free agency, tackle, linebacker and edge rusher are all still areas where the Broncos could add depth. Cornerback, tight end and running back could also be options if Denver stays in place and picks, and that's perhaps the biggest appeal. Should the Broncos make their slotted selections, they'll likely fill needs in an area of the draft in which teams can acquire solid starters.
Option 2: Gather more picks
Paton has spoken several times about his desire to acquire "darts" for the draft and said as recently as late March that he hopes to get up to 10 picks. That would require a trade back at some point, and it could happen as early as Day 2.
Last year, the Broncos paired their trade up for Javonte Williams in the second round with a couple of trades in the third round. First, Denver dealt No. 71 to New York for picks No. 76 and No. 164. The Broncos then sent No. 76 to the Saints for No. 98 and No. 105, where they selected Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning, respectively.
Paton spoke earlier this offseason about the depth of this year's draft, and it could make sense to slide down a few spots from No. 64 or No. 75 to grab an extra pick or two. In the process, Paton could still find near-immediate contributors. He showed that last year with Meinerz and Browning, who both became full-time starters before long.
Option 3: Make a move up
This final option seems perhaps the most unlikely, as Paton has spoken about his desire to acquire more picks. Trading up into the earlier part of the second round — or to the end of the first round — would require giving up more capital, and the Broncos may be unwilling to do so. If a run on a certain position group causes other talented players to fall, though, it may be worth the price.
For the Broncos to get into the end of the first round, they'd need to pair another 100 to 110 points of draft capital to provide fair compensation, according to the Rich Hill trade valuation chart. That equates to a mid-second round pick — which the Broncos traded away for 2023 — or a pair of third-round picks. Essentially, the Broncos would need to package all three of their 2022 Day 2 picks to get up into the end of the first round.
Jumping up 10 to 15 spots into the middle of the second round is an easier proposition. Denver could package No. 64 and No. 96 to get up to around No. 48 or 49 — or package No. 64 and No. 115 or No. 116 to swap with a team around No. 52 or No. 53. The latter proposal, in particular, seems doable if a player the Broncos like starts to fall a bit. And with back-to-back picks in the fourth round, giving up No. 115 or No. 116 may be more palatable.
It's worth noting that if the Broncos trade up, it would likely be paired with a trade down at some point — perhaps as soon as the third round.