But, as Paton told The Denver Post's Ryan O'Halloran, for as good as the group was and as much as it contributed, it did not exceed his expectations.
"No," Paton said. "Exactly what we were hoping. I think some of them can be a little better. I think some of them, I was hoping for a little more. I really liked the rookie class."
As expected, the first three draft picks of the group — cornerback Pat Surtain II, running back Javonte Williams and guard/center Quinn Meinerz — were "guys from Day 1 who were pros," Paton said. Surtain and Williams, in particular, shined during their first NFL season, and Paton highlighted Meinerz as a player with great potential going forward.
"He can be a really good guard," Paton told O'Halloran. "I wouldn't limit him to guard; I think he could be a really good center. He has the size, he's athletic and he's really smart. We'll see what the coaches think of this [offensive line] group, but I think we have some pieces."
Below the Fold
In his analysis of the draft class, though, longtime Broncos reporter Mike Klis added his voice to those applauding the selections, calling it "one of their top 5 drafts in team history[.]"
In a pick-by-pick evaluation, Klis looks at how each player performed against expectations and their outlook for the upcoming season. And as he got to the end, he discussed why this class separates itself from others.
"To have a strong draft, a team has to hit at the top, in the middle and at the end," Klis wrote. "[Seventh-round pick Jonathon] Cooper put this draft over the top."