Well that was fun!
The 2022 NFL Draft has concluded and the Denver Broncos came away with nine draft selections. Now it is time for us to give our meaningless draft grades on prospects that haven’t even played a down in the NFL. It’s something we do every single year and something most of us understand is, in fact, meaningless. But it’s still fun to do it!
Grading the Broncos 2022 draft class is going to be interesting, because some of us will include the Russell Wilson acquisition and some will look only at this class inside a bubble. Personally, I think you have to include Wilson since so much draft capital was given up to get him in Denver.
We’ll start with our own draft grades here at Mile High Report, then I’ll share some of the more unbiased grades Denver received from around the Internet.
I’d have to give this draft class a solid ‘B’. General manager George Paton came into this draft with a total lack of any premium picks due to the Wilson trade and maneuvered the Broncos into filling just about every positional need remaining while also accumulating an additional third round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The consensus is that Paton reached a bit on a few picks, but he also found value in those first two picks of Nik Bonitto and Greg Dulcich. Overall, I think Paton did about as well with this draft as he could with the total lack of premium picks here. – Tim Lynch
Broncos and George Paton did what they could with the few resources they had — when starting at 64, it’s usually difficult to get high-end talent. Even so, Paton got talents like Nick Bonitto, Greg Dulcich and even Eyioma Uwazurike, who all could’ve gone higher. Considering Russell Wilson already made this off-season A1, the number of picks that provide depth to this team makes it an overall success. – Grant Johnson
The Broncos had a positive draft addressing a lot of issues coming up in the short term with their roster. They got much needed depth at corner, another sound option at tight end, and some offensive linemen that will hopefully develop into the zone line of the future for the team. Draftniks aren’t going to be goo-goo over this draft, but unlike many of the Elway drafts, there were no real picks that had me scratching my head. Now off to watch more Russell Wilson highlights… – Sadaraine
I want to start by saying I do not include Russell Wilson in this grade because he cost the Broncos eight picks and players. It’s a trade I consider a steal, but now that he’s wearing orange and blue I tried to separate the draft from the trade to better consider how George Paton added players to help Wilson chase Super Bowls.
I look at the Broncos draft strategy as a three pronged plan. Day two was about adding unique skillsets that compliment the current roster while offering impact starter upside. Nik Bonitto fits neatly into the edge rotation as a wide nine speed rusher who can drop in space and make plays in pursuit this year. If he can improve his hands and get stronger while retaining the burst and flexibility that makes him a dynamic edge threat, look out. Greg Dulcich is a receiving tight end who had six 30+ yard receptions in 2021. He’s a good athlete and savvy route runner who can offer a splash element to the seams this year, but he needs to improve his blocking and eliminate the gaffe drops . The hope here is Albert Okwuegbunam and he become the most dangerous tight end duo in the league.
Paton then turned 96 into what should be a higher third round pick in 2022 because I doubt the Indianapolis Colts win Super Bowl LVII. The move Denver will have two picks in the top 100 in 2023, which helps to offset the cost of the Russell Wilson trade.
On Day three the Broncos took swings on scheme fits the front office and new coaching staff believe in. The biggest complaint I have about most of the prospects is is they were quite low on various consensus boards. Every single one of them came in below their average draft position on The Athletic’s top 300 consensus board.
Ultimately, the Broncos entered this draft trying to add role players to support a veteran roster in 2022. The meaningful grade depends on Bonitto and Dulcich reaching their ceiling and the day three prospects proving themselves as dependable contributors. They added an designated pass rusher, receiving tight end, returner, and depth on defense. It’s hard to ignore Garett Bolles remains the last tackle drafted by the Broncos, however, as he turns 30 in May. I’d give Paton’s second draft a C. – Joe Rowles
If you look at on paper, it’s not the sexiest looking draft return, but the Broncos made just two picks in the top 3 rounds, so that’s expected. If you were to add an early first and second to this draft, then we are feeling great about this draft.
Getting Bonitto and Dulcich, two players who likely will contribute a good deal their rookie years is why I’m giving this draft a high grade. Paton made the most of his selections. There some prospects I wish he selected instead, but what do I know?
On day 3, I liked the fourth round picks. Both seem like prospects who can contribute in year one(especially Mathis) so that’s a plus. They drafted their likely starting return man, added safety and IOL depth, and then got an intriguing sixth round pick in Matt Henningsen who could be surprise of this draft.
Oh yeah, this draft haul by GM included getting an elite future Hall Of Fame QB, so… A+ from me. (Grading a draft class hours after it concluded and with none of these players ever taking a snap of practice with the team is asinine). – Scotty Payne
I think the Broncos did a really good job of adding talent that can start right away, as well as some nice developmental talents late on Day 3. Bonitto, Dulcich, Mathis, and Uwazurike can all contribute early on as rookies while Wattenberg, DTY, Hicks, and Henningsen are athletic and talented depth with the ability to develop into good starters. There were a few picks I’d probably have handled differently, but the Broncos did a good job of adding value where they could and didn’t significantly overpay for talent. – AJ Schulte
Broncos Draft Grades
Best Pick: Nik Bonnito, EDGE (64)
Worst pick: Damarri Mathis, CB (115)
The Broncos had a wonderful draft with the limited selections they had. This was a very BPA-oriented group of players who fill needs now, and into the future. I see three potential starters in this group, and when you don’t have a first round pick that’s a huge boon. Overall very solid work, even if it feels a little unremarkable right now.
Day 1 grade: a
Day 2 grade: a
Day 3 grade: a
Analysis: Russell Wilson was a big part of Denver’s draft class, which is fine with the Broncos, as it should be. They used a pick acquired in the Von Miller trade to add an explosive pass rusher in Bonitto. The team found a potential replacement for pass-catching tight end Noah Fant (who was sent to Seattle in the Wilson deal) in former walk-on Dulcich.
Mathis builds cornerback depth for the Broncos, as he can play in the slot or outside. Uwazurike and Henningsen are polar opposites as defensive linemen, with the former Cyclone a powerful player and Henningsen a high-motor pressure machine. Wattenberg could compete for the starting center job in 2022.
Denver Broncos: B-
Top needs: TE, OT, CB
The Broncos sent their first- and second-round pick in this draft to Seattle to acquire Russell Wilson — I think they’re OK with the outcome of the deal — and they had already added a second-rounder from the Von Miller trade to the Rams. I liked their top pick enough, because Nik Bonitto (64) is a fit for their 3-4 defense. He already is advanced as a pass-rusher and is fast off the snap. He led the FBS in pressure percentage last season at 18.3%. He needs to get much better against the run, though, because he is going to struggle to play on early downs.
Greg Dulcich (80) is my second-ranked tight end, and he should take a bunch of the vacant snaps left by Noah Fant going to Seattle. This was a big hole for Denver. Cornerback Damarri Mathis (115) ran a 4.39-second 40 at the combine, while Eyioma Uwazurike (116) was a four-year starter at Iowa State, and he could play defensive end in the Broncos’ scheme.
One other thing to mention is that Denver added a 2023 third-round pick when the Colts traded up to No. 96, so that’s a nice get. While obviously the Wilson trade is great for Denver, there isn’t a whole lot in this class past Bonitto and Dulcich.
Pro Football Network
Round 2, Pick 64: Nik Bonitto – Grade: B-
Round 3, Pick 80: Greg Dulcich – Grade: B
Round 4, Pick 115: Damarri Mathis – Grade: A
Round 4, Pick 116: Eyioma Uwazurike – Grade: C+
Round 5, Pick 152: Delarrin Turner-Yell – Grade: D
Round 5, Pick 162: Montrell Washington – Grade: D
Round 5, Pick 171: Luke Wattenberg – Grade: B-
Round 6, Pick 206: Matt Henningsen – Grade: B+
Round 7, Pick 232: Faion Hicks – Grade: B
The Broncos traded their first-rounder in a deal that landed them Russell Wilson. So that’s a win already. The 2022 NFL Draft class itself fell into place nicely as well. Nik Bonitto and Greg Dulcich can be contributors early at positions of need. On Day 3, picks like Matt Henningsen, Damarri Mathis, and Faion Hicks provided excellent value. And even the more unexpected picks, like Montrell Washington or Eyioma Uwazurike, had reasoning to support. Athleticism and physical upside are key denominators for this class. And many of these Day 3 picks may go on to exceed their billing.
Denver Broncos – Grade: B+
Draft picks: EDGE Nik Bonitto, TE Greg Dulcich, CB Damarri Mathis, DT Eyioma Uwazurike, S Delarrin Turner-Yell, WR Montrell Washington, C Luke Wattenberg, DT Matt Henningsen, CB Faion Hicks
The Broncos already made their splash in the offseason by using draft capital to acquire Russell Wilson. GM George Paton still made the most of entering in the second round, getting the ideal second-level complement to Bradley Chubb in Bonitto and a replacement for Noah Fant in the super-athletic Dulcich. Denver also added good defensive depth later.
Touch Down Wire
Denver Broncos: B
Due to the Russell Wilson trade, the Denver Broncos were not on the clock until the end of the second round. Still, they managed to make two quality additions at areas of need during Day Two. First was Nik Bonitto, a pass rusher out of Oklahoma, and then they added a potential Noah Fant replacement in Greg Dulcich at the end of the third round. Bonitto is an athletic, explosive and agile pass rusher who can step in and contribute immediately off the edge in pass rushing situations. With the addition of Randy Gregory and the presence of veteran Bradley Chubb, Bonitto is likely a rotational pass rusher as a rookie. With Dulcich, the Broncos added a solid move tight end, and perhaps a perfect compliment to Albert Okwuegbunam when Denver turns to 12 personnel packages. Center Luke Wattenburg gives them a nice depth option along the offensive line.
Iowa State’s Eyioma Uwazurike is one of the better run defenders in this defensive line class, and the Cyclones aligned him all over their defensive fronts. His length and upper-body strength will translate well to the next level. The Broncos also added defensive lineman Matt Henningsen from Wisconsin at the end of the sixth round, who could be a solid option as a 5-techique in odd fronts.