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Ask Aric: Who could be the target if the Broncos trade up?

The 2022 NFL Draft has arrived.

And while the Broncos don't have a first-round pick, there are still plenty of reasons to tune in to Denver's moves this weekend. Though the team doesn't have any glaring needs, they'll add some potential future stars and pieces that can further solidify the group as an AFC contender.

In this edition of "Ask Aric," we'll take a look at some potential options for General Manager George Paton and the Broncos, evaluate the remaining areas of need, peek ahead to 2023 and more.

If you'd like to leave a question for a future mailbag, click here or send a tweet to @AricDiLalla.

Let's get to it.

Paton mentioned the possibility of trading up. What player/position do you think would be the target and to which pick? Any chance that Travis Jones lands with the Broncos? - @KathiDB4Life

Kathi, I think it's less about the position and more about how highly that player is graded on the Broncos' board. If a player that the Broncos have assigned a first-round grade or high second-round grade starts to fall and is available in the late 40s or early 50s, maybe that's where you see the Broncos pull the trigger. We'll see who the Broncos prioritize, but for me, if players like Bernhard Raimann, David Ojabo, Chad Muma and Quay Walker start falling, that's when I'd seriously consider moving up a few spots to grab an impact player. Jones, a defensive lineman out of Connecticut, is the 34th-ranked player on The Athletic's Dane Brugler's top 100 rankings, so he'd have to fall a bit to be available for the Broncos. I do, however, think that defensive line is a bigger need for the Broncos than most people have acknowledged, and I would not be surprised if the team addresses the defensive line on Day 2.

Which position [is] the highest priority for the Broncos? - @Woelfi1945

The good news is I don't think there are any glaring needs. The Broncos now have solid starters and solid depth at edge rusher, and they shored up positions of need at running back and safety. I think Paton has done enough to truly pick the best available players with his Day 2 picks. That said, there's still a few spots where I think the depth could improve a bit. I mentioned defensive line, and I'll toss tight end, cornerback, inside linebacker, right tackle and edge rusher in that group, as well. Tight end might be the biggest need at the moment, as the Broncos could use another pass-catching tight end behind Albert Okwuegbunam. That position, though, could be addressed on Day 3 or through a free-agent addition, so I'm not imminently worried about that finding a solution there. If the Broncos could add marquee players at three of four core positions — outside linebacker, inside linebacker, right tackle and cornerback — on Day 2, that'd be a home run in my eyes.

If the Broncos are unable to add 2023 capital in the draft this week, who are some current players you could see getting traded in the months ahead in order to do so? - @DKrom59

This is an interesting question, because the 2023 NFL Draft has to be on the Broncos' minds a bit this week. Denver currently only has four picks, and the Broncos don't have a first- or second-round selection. If all goes to plan this year, the Broncos will be picking in the high 20s — or low 30s! — which means their first slated pick may not come until around the 90th-overall selection in 2023. If the Broncos are confident in the number of high-caliber players left when they come on the clock at No. 64, it wouldn't surprise me to see Denver trade back a bit to acquire a 2023 third-round pick. Paton has made it clear that he'd like 10 picks in this draft, but I also think he might prioritize future picks to some degree to increase the team's future flexibility. But — moving to the premise of the question — if Paton doesn't pick up picks for next year, the Broncos are in an interesting spot. Presumably, they aren't going to be sellers at the trade deadline, so there isn't going to be a deal like the Von Miller one that gave the Broncos two Day 2 picks. The Broncos also aren't currently in position to gain any compensatory picks for 2023, according to Over The Cap. More likely is that prior to roster cut downs, Denver can acquire a future late-round pick for a player that doesn't figure into the team's plans. The same could happen at the trade deadline, as well. In short, the Broncos must get creative to find ways to pick up extra selections. The 2022 Draft got the immediate attention following the Russell Wilson trade, but next year's draft may be the more interesting — and challenging — situation.

Is there any chance we trade back into the first? - @ConnorTimmons18

We'll be ready for it if it happens, but I wouldn't hold your breath. According to the widely accepted draft capital charts, the Broncos would have to likely give up all three of their Day 2 picks — or an equivalent offer — to get up into the end of the first round. If a player with a top 10 grade falls, maybe you think about it, but Paton said at his predraft presser that trading up higher in the second round or trading back is more likely. We've heard other GMs say they only have 15-20 players with first-round grades, which suggests the top of this draft isn't as strong as previous years. If anything, the Broncos were smart to move out of the top 10 in this particular year. That said, the strength of this draft is in the middle rounds, with a lot of players available in Rounds 2 and 3 that teams could view as immediate starters or impact players. Denver actually is set up quite nicely, and I think the Broncos would be better off to acquire multiple players on Day 2 instead of just one player over the course of the first two days. Of course, no one ever really knows what Paton has planned, so I'd stay tuned just in case.

Is safety a position of need? What are the chances of Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson to earn a starting spot beside Simmons and Jackson? - @Woelfi1945

I wouldn't say safety is among the Broncos' biggest needs after re-signing Kareem Jackson, but I also wouldn't rule out adding a player at that spot. If someone like Baylor's Jalen Pitre falls to the second round, I'd seriously consider adding him. Pitre has the ability to play nickel and some also view him as a dime linebacker, which would give him positional versatility. Plus, if a player with a high grade falls into your lap, you have to at least think about drafting him. As for the second part of your question, Jackson made it clear that he still views himself as an every-down safety. Paton spoke highly of Sterns' rookie season during his Combine media availability, but it's clear the second-round player still needs to develop and improve his consistency. We're a long way from the season, but I'd be surprised if Kareem Jackson isn't out there next to Justin Simmons in Week 1.

What movies are you guys going to be watching while everyone else is watching the first round of the NFL #draft2022? -@ColtonM87233550

We'll still have the draft on, I promise. But if things are quiet enough to have a second screen, maybe we'll toss up the best movie in existence, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." In a way, Day 1 of the NFL Draft is kind of like George Paton's Day Off. We already know what he'll be watching: Russell Wilson highlights

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