INDIANAPOLIS — The Broncos are headed for the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
The next step in the months-long draft process, the Combine is a chance for Denver to get another on-field look at some of the top prospects and talk to them in either a formal or informal setting.
Over the coming days, Denver's Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager George Paton will continue to evaluate options for when the Broncos make their first selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Denver's initial pick isn't currently slated to occur until the beginning stages of the third round, as the Broncos hold the 67th- and 68th-overall picks. As such, this article won't feature the draft's top prospects, as it has in recent years. Instead, we're taking a look at some of the prospects who have been linked to the Broncos in the third round via several recent mock drafts.
The draft process is still in its early stages, but perhaps a couple of the following prospects could increase their standing with a strong performance over the coming days.
EDGE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State (via Touchdown Wire)
If the Broncos are looking to add to their edge-rushing group, McDonald could be an option. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound player found success at the Senior Bowl, and his NFL comp is Randy Gregory, according to NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein. He recorded 34 career sacks during his career at Iowa State and led the Big 12 in sacks in 2020 and 2021. McDonald has been mentioned as a player who could rise up draft boards, which could put him out of the Broncos' range. If he's available, though, perhaps the Broncos could go edge rusher with their first pick for the second consecutive draft.
RB Devon Achane, Texas A&M (via Touchdown Wire)
As Javonte Williams works his way back from a season-ending injury, Achane could be a strong addition to a Broncos running back room that has several players set to be free agents. Achane ran for 2,012 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons and ranked first in the SEC in rushing yards per attempt in 2021. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound player — whom Zierlein compares to two-time Pro Bowler Leon Washington — could show off his patented speed in Indianapolis.
A five-year starter, Vorhees projects as a solid starter, according to NFL.com. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound player could fulfill a need for Denver, if free-agent-to-be Dalton Risner does not return to the Broncos in 2023. Whether through the draft or free agency — or potentially even both — the Broncos will need to add to their offensive line. Vorhees could be an intriguing option to help Denver on the interior of the unit.
The Broncos' biggest surprise of the 2022 season may have been Alex Singleton, who signed a one-year contract in free agency and then led the team in tackles. Singleton is poised to hit the market again, which could leave the Broncos in need of a new inside linebacker. A first-team AP All-American in 2022, Sanders projects as a Year 1 starter, according to NFL.com. Zierlein compared Sanders to two-time Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds, and he said he has the ability to play outside or inside at the next level.
DL Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida (via Tankathon)
The Broncos' defensive line could look different in 2023, as starters Dre'Mont Jones and DeShawn Williams are poised to become free agents. Denver could look in free agency for reinforcements if they don't retain Jones or Williams, but they may also add in the draft. Dexter projects as a backup or special teamer, according to NFL.com, but his 6-foot-6, 312-pound frame could help him find success in the NFL.
LB Daiyan Henley, Washington State (via Tankathon)
Another option at inside linebacker, Henley has the range to be a sideline-to-sideline player, according to Zierlein. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound player isn't currently graded as high as Sanders, but a strong performance at the Combine could improve his stock.
A former five-star recruit, Pickens is a 6-foot-3, 305-pound player who posted 80 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks over his final two seasons at South Carolina. Some draft experts view him a Day 3 prospect, rather than a Day 2 target. As with Dexter, Pickens' size could be appealing to teams.
Hooker reportedly will not work out at the Combine as he continues to recover from his November ACL injury, but he is said to be ahead of schedule in his rehab process. With Brett Rypien set to be a free agent, Hooker could potentially be an option if the Broncos want to acquire a young quarterback to back up Russell Wilson. Hooker was a top Heisman Trophy candidate before his injury, and Zeirlein compared him to Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder.