With the regular season complete and the 2022 NFL Draft on the horizon, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has released his first mock draft of the year.
The Broncos hold the No. 9 overall pick in this year's draft, and they have a few positions to address before the start of the 2022 season. Jeremiah expects Denver to target a quarterback in the first round, noting that his choice for the Broncos assumes that they don't acquire QB help during free agency.
Jeremiah's choice for Denver is Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett.
"If they are unable to land [a QB in free agency], Pickett is the best option in this draft class," Jeremiah wrote. "He is ready to play right away."
Pickett finished his senior year at Pitt with 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Pickett's 42 touchdowns set a new ACC single-season passing touchdown record.
"The Pitt product doesn't have a huge arm, but he can make all the throws and he's proven he can create when the pocket breaks down," Jeremiah wrote.
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Quarterback has been a popular choice for the Broncos' first pick in April's draft, with Pro Football Focus also projecting a new signal-caller heading to Denver.
With the No. 9 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, PFF's Austin Gayle sends University of North Carolina QB Sam Howell to the Broncos.
"Howell watched his top receivers and top running backs go onto the NFL while he stayed back at Chapel Hill, and he still managed to earn a 90.0 PFF grade in 2021," Gayle wrote. "The drop-off in talent with his supporting cast took a baseball bat to UNC's chances in the ACC, but Howell still showed out as one of college football's top signal-callers."
Gayle cited Howell's arm strength and abilities as a mobile QB as reasons for Denver to draft him in the first round.
"He has a rocket arm with plus mobility for the position, enough for Denver to pull the trigger on his talents at No. 9 overall," Gayle wrote.