Dave Haselden gives his take on George Paton’s first draft in charge of the Denver Broncos, and grades each selection.
Round 1, Pick 9: Patrick Surtain II, CB – A+
Surtain was the best cornerback in the draft, and certainly has the ability to be an immediate starter in this league.
After the lack of depth at the position in the last few seasons, George Paton has sought to strengthen the room with the additions of Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. Bearing in mind Fuller is only on a one-year deal, it made sense to add Surtain with an eye to the future.
Stopping the opposing quarterbacks in the AFC West is always going to be a tough ask, but the Broncos are doing everything possible to do just that.
Stop them first, and you’re half way there.
Round 2, Pick 35: Javonte Williams, RB – A+
A first round talent many had as the top running back in the draft, and should probably have gone in the first, which explains why Paton traded up to get him.
He’s a three-down back who can become this team’s bell cow, who is explosive, and will likely replace Melvin Gordon next year.
This was the Broncos’ best pick of the draft for me.
The fact he was still there in the second is testimony to how running backs are viewed as replaceable commodities nowadays; This means, as Denver have here, you can pick up a generational talent for excellent value.
People are still hung up on the team letting Phillip Lindsay go, but Williams can do it all; he can block, catch, run, and we know that, as much as we all loved Lindsay, he was not a complete back.
A very underappreciated pick by many, who is a real stud.
Round 3, Pick 98: Quinn Meinerz, OL – B
Can play the centre or guard positions, but Denver say he’ll play guard.
He’s another player that gives us noteworthy depth and talent, and alongside Netane Muti we now have two young legitimate reserve guards, who could be future starters
Should Cushenberry, or any of the guards go down, we have the versatility and ability on the interior to fill in at a good level. Lovely pick.
Round 3, Pick 105: Baron Browning, LB – A
A versatile linebacker, who on paper seems to be incredible value for the last pick of the third round.
A three-down linebacker who can run side-line to side-line, he could play a significant role in helping to cover the dynamic weapons at tight-end that the AFC West has to offer.
Vic Fangio has said that he will initially begin playing inside, but he was the ability to play outside as well. Clearly, the Broncos have greater depth outside right now, but in the long-term the team can find his best fit and go from there.
Round 5, Pick 152: Caden Sterns, S – B-
With Kareem Jackson signing only a one-year deal, it made sense for the Broncos to address the defensive backfield in this draft
His skill-set matches what Fangio likes as a jack of all trades safety, who can also play some corner.
We know that Fangio likes versatility in his players, who can fill numerous roles, and Sterns has just that. He fills both a short- and long-term roster need, adding immediate depth, and it will be interesting to see how much playing time he earns this season.
Round 5, Pick 164: Jamar Johnson, S – B
I like this double dip at safety, taking another talented guy, who slipped in the draft because he isn’t as athletic as the others. Despite that, he was still an impactful and productive player in college.
He needs to improve his tackling, but he seems to have excellent football intelligence that allows him to read the play very well, meaning that he’s always in the right place at the right time.
Someone else to add depth and competition to the defensive backfield, with an eye to 2022 as well
Round 6, Pick 219: Seth Williams, WR – C+
Whilst not an immediate need, Paton has again looked to the future with the addition of Williams.
He’s a big-bodied boundary receiver, which the Broncos already have in spades with Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.
His ability to special teams could be crucial to his place on the team, although DeSean Hamilton’s injury has opened up a position lower down the depth chart.
Round 7, Pick 237: Kary Vincent Jr., CB – B
NFL.com had him projected as a 4th round talent, and therefore good value, hence the grade I have given.
At this stage in the draft, you’re not expecting guys to make an immediate impact, and Vincent Jr. will have the ability this year to learn from Fangio, Ed Donatell, and the high-quality veterans the Broncos already possess at this position.
Round 7, Pick 239: Jonathan Cooper, EDGE – B-
The lack of depth on the edge could be a concern with Jeremiah Attaochu departing in the offseason, leaving little behind Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed.
It was somewhat of a surprise the Broncos waited so long to add someone at this position, but we’ve seen in Reed, who was undrafted, that guys can come in and make a real impact for the Broncos at this position.
Cooper translates as a pure pass rusher, who we shouldn’t expect to have to rely on in the run game. That could develop in time of course.
Round 7, Pick 253: Marquiss Spencer, DE – C
Defensive Linemen thrive under Bill Kollar, an excellent positional coach, and this pick adds another talent for him to work with and try and develop.
At 6’ 4” and 301 lbs, he brings a real presence to the defensive line, and any sort of production from the 253rd pick will be viewed as a worthwhile selection.
Of course, the proof will be in how these players look in two or three years’ time, and on what the Broncos’ quarterback situation is.
George Paton may have passed on the quarterback position, but he did so to add an incredible talent in Patrick Surtain.
Right now, I’d give Paton’s first draft an A, but let’s see what happens on the field and how this group of rookies contribute to a young and developing football team.