ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It's the heart of mock draft season, and it's DenverBroncos.com's turn to jump into the fray.
Last week, we took a look at the Broncos' various options in the 2022 NFL Draft — staying put, trading up or trading back — and this mock draft exercise will work much the same way.
Below, you'll find three mock drafts, each with a different intention. The first took a big swing at a top-end player, the second was predicated on amassing more picks and the final stab tried to meet a high number of needs for this year's team.
The mocks run through the fourth round, and decisions were made based off need and player rankings assembled by The Athletic's Dane Brugler.
In addition to the picks, you'll also find a series of explanations. At the end, send a tweet to @AricDiLalla to let him know which mock draft you prefer.
Before we get started, just one note: Each mock draft was run just once. If a player was off the board or a trade was passed up, there were no do-overs. Pro Football Network's simulator was used for the exercise.
Draft 1: Too good to pass up
No. 66: EDGE David Ojabo
No. 75: T Daniel Faalele
No. 96: LB Brian Asamoah II
No. 115: RB James Cook
No. 116: CB Zyon McCollum
Acquired: Future third-round pick from Detroit
For all three of the scenarios, I prioritized edge rusher, inside linebacker, cornerback, defensive line, right tackle, tight end, running back and punt returner as needs — in some order. I hoped to find players that could contribute in Year 1 for the Broncos, but in this first scenario, I don't think I had much of a choice.
Michigan EDGE David Ojabo, viewed as a top-10 pick before he suffered an Achilles injury during his pro day, fell all the way to No. 64. I traded back a couple of spots — figuring I could get some good value with several intriguing players still on the board — and picked up a future third-rounder from Detroit. When he was still available at No. 66, I couldn't pass him up again. For reference, Ojabo was gone by No. 41 in each of the following two mock drafts I completed.
Though Ojabo may not play all season, adding a player of his caliber was worth the short-term sacrifice. It's also worth noting that several players I wanted to monitor — tackle Bernhard Raimann, linebackers Chad Muma and Troy Andersen, tight end Greg Dulcich and cornerback Coby Bryant — were already off the board at No. 64.
After selecting Ojabo, it was important to find players that could contribute quickly, and I added Minnesota tackle Daniel Faalele at No. 75 (over Oklahoma EDGE Nik Bonitto and Coastal Carolina's Isaiah Likely) and added Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah II at No. 96. In the fourth round, I snagged Georgia running back James Cook and Sam Houston State cornerback Zyon McCollum. Both players filled needs and were among the top remaining players according to Brugler.
In all, I was able to add one potential starter for this season, two key depth players and a potential star for the future — and add a third-round pick for next year's draft.
Draft 2: Adding up the picks
No. 75: EDGE Nik Bonitto
No. 82: CB Coby Bryant
No. 114: TE Jelani Woods
No. 116: RB Brian Robinson Jr.
No. 129: DT Neil Farrell Jr.
No. 130: WR Wan'Dale Robinson
Additional net acquisitions: No. 164, No. 165, No. 168, No. 193, No. 231
General Manager George Paton spoke earlier this offseason about his desire to acquire an additional pick for this year's draft, and I gave him far more than that in this mock.
When the board didn't materialize way I wanted at no. 64, I traded back and picked up an additional fourth-round pick. I may have sacrificed a bit in terms of draft points — I also gave up a fifth-rounder — but I didn't feel great about the players available and wanted another pick for the exercise.
After selecting Oklahoma EDGE Nik Bonitto at No. 75 and Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant at No. 82, I again executed a trade. This time I sent No. 96 and No. 232 to the Raiders for No. 126, No. 164 and No. 165, in the process turning down an offer from the Dolphins for No. 102 and a future fifth- and sixth-round pick.
I selected Virginia TE Jelani Woods at No. 114; traded No. 115 for No. 130, No. 168 and No. 231; and selected Alabama's Brian Robinson Jr. at No. 116. I made one final trade at No. 126, as I accepted a deal from Dallas for No. 129 and No. 193. At No. 129 and No. 130, I again filled needs by selecting LSU DT Neil Farrell Jr. and Kentucky WR Wan'Dale Robinson, respectively. Robinson was selected with the idea of serving as a returner, though that may be a bit of a projection.
With plenty more picks for Paton to make over the remainder of the draft, this option gave the Broncos flexibility to package picks and move back up in later rounds if they desired a specific player.
Draft 3: Eyes on this season
No. 64: S Jalen Pitre
No. 75: EDGE Kingsley Enagbare
No. 96: LB Channing Tindall
No. 115: TE Cade Otton
No. 116: T Darian Kinnard
There were no deals in this mock draft, and I relied on a true best player available strategy to make the selections. At No. 64, Baylor safety Jalen Pitre remained on the board, and I took the opportunity to select Brugler's 38th-overall player who could be a dynamic piece in the secondary. Later in the fourth round, Kentucky tackle Darian Kinnard remained on the board as Brugler's 52nd-ranked player. Brugler wrote that some team's disagree whether Kinnard is better suited for guard or tackle, but the talent seemed to good to pass up despite the Broncos' interior offensive line talent.
At No. 75, South Carolina EDGE Kingsley Enagbare was another prospect who fell below where Brugler had him ranked on his top 100 list of prospects. Enagbare could serve as a defensive end in the Broncos' 3-4 system, and he provides depth on both the line and as a rusher. Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall and Washington tight end Cade Otton were both players who were among the best available while also meeting a team need.