While the Broncos have yet to even take the field ahead of the 2022 season, expectations have obviously changed since the team's franchise-altering move to trade for Russell Wilson.
How much its outlook has changed is remarkable, as can be seen in recent power rankings from ESPN and NFL.com — each of whom have the Broncos in the top 10.
NFL.com's Dan Hanzus gave Denver a 15-spot rise, from No. 23 to No. 8 — which tied the Bucs for the largest improvement since his post-Super Bowl ranking, thanks to Tom Brady's return to Tampa.
"The opportunity to trade for a superstar quarterback is rare, so credit general manager George Paton for being aggressive and getting the deal done," Hanzus wrote. "The Broncos gave up multiple first-round picks to land their franchise quarterback, but the sting of the sticker price will dissipate when Wilson is playing like an MVP next fall. The Broncos went from pretender to contender overnight when they acquired Peyton Manning in the spring of 2012. A decade later, they pulled off the same trick."
ESPN's didn't go quite that far — from No. 21 to No. 10 — but no team matched that jump for them. And they could get better, if they resolve the next offseason goal, as selected by Jeff Legwold.
"The Broncos signed cornerback K'Waun Williams, who will get the first look as the team's nickel cornerback, but they entered free agency with three cornerbacks who started games last season -- Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller and Nate Hairston -- who were unrestricted free agents, as was safety Kareem Jackson," Legwold wrote. "Williams does mitigate some of that with his versatility as a defender in the run game, in coverage as well as his work as a spot pass-rusher. But the Broncos still need to do some work there to build depth, and if Caden Sterns isn't going to inherit Jackson's safety spot, they need to bring back Jackson or someone like him."
Below the Fold
Since the trade, which included Denver's first-round pick, the Broncos aren't included in mock drafts as much anymore, but the folks who do multi-round mocks have Broncos fans covered. NFL.com's Chad Reuter projects Kentucky tackle Darian Kinnard to Denver with the last pick in the second round and then bolstering the defensive and offensive backfields later on.