ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the Broncos chose not to make a dramatic deal back into the first round.
With as much talent as there is still on the board, the choice seems prescient. As this year's draft enters its second day, a slew of talented players still remain available.
With just one quarterback taken on Day 1, it seems likely that several quarterbacks could go in Round 2 — and that's good news for the Broncos. With every quarterback that goes off the board, another player falls another spot closer to Denver.
There's no telling what could happen in the picks ahead of the Broncos, but it's worth it to take a look at some of the top players remaining on the board. Perhaps several of these prospects fall to Denver at No. 64 — or maybe Paton pulls the trigger and moves up to grab a valued player.
Read on for a non-exhaustive list of some of the top prospects and how they would fit in Denver.
OLB David Ojabo, Michigan
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 6
Before Ojabo tore his Achilles during his pro day workout, he was projected as a potential top-10 pick. He likely wouldn't be available to play until near the end of the season — in a best-case scenario — but is a talented option.
OLB Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 8
A third-team All-Big Ten player in 2021, Mafe posted 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
OLB Drake Jackson, USC
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 22
A former Freshman All-American and three-time second-team All-Pac 12 player, Jackson posted 25 career tackles for loss and 12.5 career sacks.
OLB Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 33
Bonitto earned second-team All-American honors in 2020 after posting eight sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the best "pass-rush win rate" in the country.
How they'd fit:
Paton has said repeatedly a team can never have enough edge rushers, and there are still plenty of alluring options available. Denver has Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory penciled in as its starters, but it never hurts to add a quality player to the rotation. In a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr, it's critical to get after the quarterback. And whether one of these players brings a pair of fresh legs on a critical third down or fills in for a few games while a starter is out, the value would be evident. Edge rusher remains one of the premier positions in the game, and it's hardly ever a mistake to add a talented player that can get after the quarterback.
DE Logan Hall, Houston
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 14
A first-team All-AAC player in 2021, Hall posted 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He projects as either a pass-rushing addition on the defensive line or an edge rusher.
DL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 23
A two-time second-team All-Big 12 player, Winfrey projects as an NFL starter and saw his stock improve at the Senior Bowl.
How they'd fit:
Denver added D.J. Jones to its defensive line, but there's probably still room to add depth to the rotation. Dre'Mont Jones, Mike Purcell and DeShawn Williams are all tested players, but the rest of the group — including recent draft picks McTelvin Agim and Marquiss Spencer — is still looking to prove itself. The defensive line hasn't been talked about quite as much as some other positions, but it may remain an area of some need. If the Broncos could get some interior pass rush from the addition, it would only be a bonus.
T Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 20
An Austria native, Raimann transitioned from tight end to tackle and earned first-team All-MAC honors in his final season. A projected first-round pick, Raimann is considered the top remaining tackle.
T Abraham Lucas, Washington State
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 29
Lucas started 42 games at right tackle during his career and earned first-team All-Pac 12 honors in his final season. Scouting reports suggest Lucas' strength is in pass blocking.
How they'd fit:
At the Senior Bowl, Paton said he wanted to find a long-term solution at right tackle, and it's possible an option could fall to the team at No. 64. The Broncos signed several players to one-year deals to compete at the position, but the long-term plan still remains unclear. Denver acquired a franchise quarterback this offseason in Russell Wilson. Now, they need to protect him.
LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 1
Dean was projected to be a first-round pick but slipped outside the top 32 picks. If Denver wants Dean, the team would likely need to move up.
LB Christian Harris, Alabama
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 25
A three-year starter at Alabama, Harris is an impressive athlete who recorded 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed in his final season in Tuscaloosa.
LB Chad Muma, Wyoming
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 37
A local player who visited the Broncos, Muma will look to follow former teammate Logan Wilson's path to the NFL. Muma gained attention at the Senior Bowl and saw his stock improve from there.
How they'd fit:
Denver filled its need at inside linebacker during free agency, as the Broncos re-signed Josey Jewell, signed Alex Singleton and tendered Jonas Griffith. The starting linebacker duo remains unclear, but the need isn't nearly as dire as it was ahead of the new league year. Still, if a player like Dean, Muma or Harris fell to the Broncos, Paton and Co. would have a lot to consider. With the tight ends in the AFC West, a three-down linebacker with the ability to play the run and cover in space is a desired commodity.
CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 17
One of the top remaining cornerbacks on the board, McCreary was named a first-team All-American in 2021 after posting 16 passes defensed and two interceptions. He's believed to have the ability to play both inside and outside as a cornerback.
How he'd fit:
The Broncos added a valuable nickel cornerback in K'Waun Williams, but there may still be room for cornerback depth behind Pat Surtain II and Ronald Darby. Paton has spoken about his belief that the NFL is a rush and cover league, and that's particularly true in the AFC West. With Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow in Las Vegas, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in Los Angeles and Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Kansas City, the Broncos' secondary will face a test every week.
TE Trey McBride, Colorado State
Rank on ESPN's best remaining players: No. 15
The draft's top tight end, McBride was a unanimous All-American selection and won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end in 2021. During his final season in Fort Collins, he caught 90 passes for 1,121 yards — but just one touchdown.
How he'd fit:
The Broncos have their pass-catching tight end in Albert Okwuegbunam and their run-blocking specialist in Eric Tomlinson, but they could probably use a player to split the difference. McBride may not fall to No. 64, but he's a do-it-all tight end that the Broncos could take if he slips down the board. Paton, though, may find better value to select a player at a different position and find a tight end in the later rounds of the draft.