Broncos Draft Grades

The acquisition of Russell Wilson transformed the Broncos from middling AFC opponent to possible Super Bowl contender. With Wilson in tow, and a new coaching staff in charge, there is a new level of excitement in Denver. As they have over the past few seasons, the Broncos entered the 2022 draft looking to find key contributors and solidify their depth for a postseason run.  However, without a first round pick to acquire a blue-chip prospect, the Broncos relied upon Day 2 and Day 3 selections to improve their draft grade. Let’s explore the possible impact their 2022 draft class may have moving forward. 

64th Overall Selection (RD2-32) Nik Bonitto, LB, Oklahoma

The Broncos finally made their first pick with the final selection of round two, drafting dynamic pass rusher Nik Bonitto. The Oklahoma product lacks the prototypical size desired for his position. Instead, he relies upon his elite athleticism and quickness to cause disruption in the backfield. He showcases good bend and the versatility to create pressure from a number of spots. Ultimately, a third down role allowing him to pin his ears back and rush the passer is his most likely avenue for contributing early. Though, with added size, he may be able to fully compete as a 3-4 OLB.

Grade: B

80th Overall Selection (RD3-16) Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA

After trading Noah Fant in the deal that netted Russell Wilson, the Broncos entered the 2022 draft with a need for depth at tight end. Greg Dulcich will compete with 2021 selection Albert Okwuegbunam for playing time, providing another weapon for Denver’s revamped attack. Dulcich is a dynamic receiving threat whose speed and athleticism allows him to attack vertically and make plays down the seam. Concerns regarding his footwork and in-line ability will likely relegate him to a limited role at first. But, I do believe he could improve in both departments with proper coaching. I like the former walk-on’s fit in Denver.

Grade: B

115th Overall Selection (RD4-10) Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh

Finding depth in the defensive backfield was another priority for Denver this offseason. Damarri Mathis profiles as a smart, physical cornerback whose consistent tackling and strength at the catch point enhances his value as a prospect. Though he played on the outside for Pittsburgh, I believe his lack of elite length and speed will lead his best fit at the NFL level to be a slot corner with the ability to provide depth on the edge in a pinch. Ultimately, Mathis should provide some value for Denver on the back end, but what that value will be remains to be seen.

Grade: C

116th Overall Selection (RD4-11) Eyioma Uwazurike, DT, Iowa State

Providing the size, athleticism, and length to thrive along the interior, Eyioma Uwazurike is an intriguing prospect for a talented Denver defense. The Iowa State product has experience along the defensive line and will help fill the hole left by Shelby Harris. He uses his size well and displays good hand usage at the point of attack. Despite the benefits of his incredible length, his size has led to struggles with short-area quickness and leverage. Filling a need with a high ceiling prospect who will have ample opportunity to get on the field this season is good value at this spot.

Grade: B

152nd Overall Selection (RD5-9) Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, Oklahoma

Denver continued their focus on the defensive side of the ball with their selection of Delarrin Turner-Yell in the fifth round. Turner-Yell is a fluid mover on the back end with the traits needed to make an impact from a variety of positions. He has impressive footwork and the instincts to react to the point of attack. Though the foundation is there, concerns remain regarding his size and cover talent. As a high-floor selection I like Turner-Yell, but whether he has the potential to heavily contribute on the back end remains to be seen.

Grade: B

162nd Overall Selection (RD5-19) Montrell Washington, WR, Samford

With their second of three fifth round picks, the Broncos targeted another weapon for their new quarterback. Montrell Washington, who excelled as a receiver and returner at the FCS level, is likely to serve as a special teams contributor while providing depth in the slot. The Samford product is undersized and lacks the polished tools to win consistently as a receiver. On the bright side, he will provide plus value on the back-end of the roster as a specialist.

Grade: C

171st Overall Selection (RD5-28) Luke Wattenberg, C, Washington

As a four-year starter at Washington, Wattenberg has the experience and demeanor desired for the center position. He is a competitive, determined blocker who could provide value as a depth lineman on the interior. However, his lack of elite traits or defining talents likely signal a very low ceiling as an NFL blocker. He struggles mightily against power and lacks the footwork and instincts to overcome difficult matchups. With these concerns it’s hard to justify the selection, even in the fifth round.

Grade: C

206th Overall Selection (RD6-28) Matt Henningsen, DT, Wisconsin

Denver doubled down on interior defenders with their selection of Matt Henningsen out of Wisconsin. Henningsen lacks the length of Uwazurike, but his athleticism and hard-nose approach allow him to create disruption in the backfield. He is a willing run defender with the ability to contribute in pass rush as well. His size may ultimately limit his role at defensive tackle but with better technique and positional awareness I believe he could contribute as a rotational end.

Grade: C

232nd Overall Selection (RD7-11) Faion Hicks, CB, Wisconsin

With their final selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected cornerback Faion Hicks out of Wisconsin. Similar to their earlier selection of Mathis, Hicks is an experienced boundary corner whose best fit at the NFL level likely requires him to slide inside. He has good athleticism for the position but will need refinement in both technique and coverage. A lack of size may also limit his situational value. In the 7th round, I don’t mind the selection.

Grade: B

Broncos Draft Grade Overall: C+

Overall, the Broncos draft class was relatively underwhelming. While they acquired a number of enticing depth pieces who could possibly contribute in larger roles down the road, they did little to fix their remaining roster concerns and find true impact selections on the later days of the draft. That’s not to say they completely missed the mark. Bonnito, Mathis, and Uwazurike are talented players who will no doubt benefit Denver’s playoff hopes. On the other side of the ball,  Dulcich and Washington provide Wilson with additional weapons to revamp the Broncos’ once stagnant offense. There’s potential in this class, but it may not be realized on the field for a few years. As a team trying to contend this season, this draft did not impress me; but the rest of their offseason acquisitions still make way for an exciting year.