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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – And with the ninth pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos have selected … Russell Wilson, quarterback.
When the Broncos sent five draft picks – including that No. 9 pick this year and their first round next year – to the Seattle Seahawks to acquire Wilson, it was a commitment to their new quarterback. But it was also rooted in a belief that they can still make the draft work to their advantage, especially on Day 2.
“I always talk about flexibility, draft flexibility and offseason flexibility and free agent,” general manager George Paton said earlier in the offseason. “We had the flexibility to take a step if we had to [for Wilson] and this really softens the blow of the picks we gave up. We have nine choices. We have one second, two thirds and two quarters. We can do what we want and we are really happy with that. “
Aside from an unexpected trade back in the first round, the real courage of the Broncos’ draft class in 2022 will come from what the team does on day 2 and in the first hour of day 3. The Broncos have nine draft picks, with five of them among the first 116 selections.
“Even after [the trade for Wilson]we feel we have a lot of draft capital, “Paton said.” … we can do some things. “
On Day 2 of the draft last year – Paton’s first as the team’s general manager – the Broncos brought in three players, who played a total of 46 games as rookies, starting 19 of them.
Running back Javonte Williams was the Broncos ‘second-round pick a year ago – they moved up from No. 40 to No. 35 to pick him – and guard Quinn Meinerz and linebacker Baron Browning were the Broncos’ third-round pick. Throw cornerback Pat Surtain II into the first round, safety Caden Sterns in the fifth and defensive end / outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper in the seventh and the Broncos had six rookies to play at least 14 games. All six started at least one match.
It was a draft weekend, so the well-played Broncos’ peers in the league’s scouting circles named it the best class in the league, an award Paton and the team’s scouting loss received at this year’s scouting combination.
“When someone swaps and then takes you, it gives you the feeling they really wanted you to be part of their team,” Williams said. “My approach is always to show my team that I want to help us win, no matter what it takes. I think our whole group [as rookies] came in and thought we would just help ourselves win and be ready to play if they put us on the field. “
There are other places on the list where successful choices on day 2 have shown how much they can mean. In the 2020 draft, Broncos wide receiver KJ Hamler, cornerback Michael Ojemudia and center Lloyd Cushenberry III selected on day 2, and all three have started matches for the team, although Hamler is currently returning from last season’s ACL operation. Guard Dalton Risner was a day 2 pick in 2019 and wide receiver Courtland Sutton was a day 2 pick in 2018.
Paton has tried to use free agency to put the Broncos in position to avoid having to use picks to meet immediate needs. The Broncos signed a group of veteran agents, including security Kareem Jackson, tackles Billy Turner and Tom Compton, as well as linebacker Alex Singleton, to one-year contracts to help fill some of those immediate needs.
These deals come on top of multi-year deals for outside linebacker Randy Gregory (five years), defensive tackle DJ Jones (three years), cornerback K’Waun Williams (two years) and linebacker Josey Jewell (two years).
“We still have nine choices and we’re fine with those choices,” Paton said. “… I’ve said we keep adding, we keep adding with players who can help us.”