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GM George Paton sees 'strong draft in the middle rounds,' doesn't rule out trading up

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Broncos may have traded five picks to help acquire Russell Wilson, but that doesn't mean they won't still make a splash in the 2022 NFL Draft.

General Manager George Paton, speaking at the NFL's Annual League Meeting, didn't rule out any options for the Broncos, including trading up from their current second-round positioning.

"We still have nine picks," Paton said Sunday. "We'll focus more on the 64[th-overall pick]. We could also trade up, because we do have the ammo to still trade up. It doesn't really change our process for the draft."

Paton said the Broncos will maintain their current evaluation process; they'll just focus on different players than they would if they still held the ninth-overall pick.

"If anything, we dig in more to the middle rounds," Paton said, "which I think it's going to be a strong draft in the middle rounds."

The Broncos currently hold five picks between the 64th-overall selection and 115th-overall pick, including two picks in the third round. A year ago, the Broncos had similar capital and landed key players in Javonte Williams, Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning on Day 2.

Paton said the Broncos could add even more picks when the draft arrives, but he maintained that there's not any more pressure to hit on the team's mid-round selections because of the absence of a first-round pick.

"You always want to hit on your picks, no matter if you have nine [of if] you have 10," Paton said. "Last year, we finished with 10 and I think we had nine that played for us. You love the picks and you always want to hit on them, but you know you're not going to hit on all of them."

Whether in the second round, third round or beyond, Paton does believe there is value to be had for the Broncos.

"I think it's a really good edge class — pass rush," Paton said of the strengths of the draft. "I like the corner class, the offensive tackle class. People have knocked the draft — I do think it's a strong draft, especially in the middle where we're picking."

And while it seems unlikely, perhaps Paton could even make another monumental trade.

"We're not going to take Thursday off," Paton told's Phil Milani. "May send some of the coaches home, but you never know. Especially late in the first, you never know what's going to happen."

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