2022 NFL Offseason: Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos (Last Year: 7-10)

2022 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Russell Wilson, QB Josh Johnson, OT Billy Turner, OT Tom Compton, DT D.J. Jones, DE/OLB Randy Gregory, LB Alex Singleton, CB K’Waun Williams.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/OLB Nik Bonitto, TE Greg Dulcich, CB Damarri Mathis, DT Eyioma Uwazurike, S Delarrin Turner-Yell, KR Montrell Washington, C Luke Wattenberg. Broncos Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, OT Bobby Massie, OT Cameron Fleming, DT Shelby Harris, LB Alexander Johnson, LB Kenny Young, CB Bryce Callahan, CB Kyle Fuller.

2022 Denver Broncos Offense:
The Broncos had plans to select Justin Fields with the ninth-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but things changed when the Aaron Rodgers news surfaced. Denver suddenly became the frontrunner to land the future Hall of Fame quarterback, so it altered its draft plans and neglected to take a quarterback at all. Rodgers, of course, remained in Green Bay in 2021. Denver was hoping to land Rodgers this offseason as well, only to have their plans thwarted once more. Unwilling to settle for another season with miserable quarterbacking, Denver pulled the trigger on a trade for Russell Wilson.

Wilson is hardly a consolation prize. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he’s five years younger than Rodgers. Wilson has been stuck on a Seattle squad that has surrounded him with poor offensive coaching and miserable blocking. That won’t be the case in Denver, as the Broncos have a strong offensive line for the most part. The best part of the blocking unit is the left side, thanks to Garett Bolles overcoming his early-career struggles. Dalton Risner is also a solid blocker at left guard, while center Lloyd Cushenberry is rather pedestrian. He could see some competition from rookie Luke Wattenberg.

Right tackle was an issue for Denver, so the team brought in Billy Turner via free agency. Turner was overpaid in Green Bay, but he’s still an upgrade over what the Broncos had at the position last year. He’ll start next to second-year Quinn Meinerz, a fierce run blocker.

The offensive line is an improvement over what Wilson endured in Seattle, while the receiving corps is deeper. Wilson had D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at his disposal in Seattle, but no one else for the most part. He’ll have at least three talented receivers at his disposal in Denver. Courtland Sutton struggled last year because he was coming off a torn ACL, but he’ll be able to thrive now that he’s two seasons removed from that injury. Jerry Jeudy was arrested this offseason and struggled with drops during his rookie campaign, but he has the talent to make a big leap in production. Then, there’s Tim Patrick, an underrated wideout who always seems to make big plays. Wilson will also have a pair of gifted tight ends at his disposal: Albert Okwuegbunam and third-round rookie Greg Dulcich.

Wilson will also be able to lean on the running game, which he hadn’t been able to do in Seattle since the days of Marshawn Lynch. The Broncos have two talented backs because they were able to re-sign Melvin Gordon. However, it’s Javonte Williams who will shoulder the majority of the workload. Williams is an incredible runner who gains tons of yards after contact. His production was limited last year because he was a rookie, but he’s ready to have a huge season.

2022 Denver Broncos Defense:
The Broncos were expected to have one of the better defenses in the NFL last year, but they were 15th in run defense and 21st in turnovers forced. The issue was they suffered a myriad of injuries throughout the year. They lost multiple linebackers and defensive backs, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Von Miller was traded to the Rams.

On top of finding a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback, Denver had to add healthier defensive players and replace Miller this offseason. It did that with Randy Gregory, signing him to a $70 million contract. Gregory is a risk because of off-the-field problems, not to mention his shoulder surgery this spring, but if healthy and focused, he’ll be an excellent bookend edge rusher for Bradley Chubb, who will be looking to rebound from a disastrous 2021 campaign in which he failed to log a single sack in seven games. Chubb was not healthy, so he should be able to play much better in 2022.

The Broncos also dealt with injuries to two other linebackers, as Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson played just eight combined games. Once they were both lost, Denver’s run defense took a huge hit. Jewell will return, though Johnson is still a free agent. The Broncos signed Alex Singleton to replace Johnson, but they may want to think about bringing Johnson back to the team because Singleton, while being a sure tackler, has issues in coverage.

The secondary, meanwhile, didn’t have two of their top three cornerbacks for six games each. The oft-injured Ronald Darby will be back, but Bryce Callahan has moved on to the Chargers. He has been replaced by K’Waun Williams, who figures to be an upgrade. Darby and Williams will join Patrick Surtain II, who enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign.

Surtain II is the second-best defensive back on the roster behind Justin Simmons. The stellar safety is still just 28, so he’ll continue to perform on a high level. On the other hand, Kareem Jackson struggled last year, as his age (34) is catching up with him. The Broncos will hope that one of their recent fifth-round picks – Caden Sterns, Delarrin Turner-Yell – will be able to compete for the job.

While the Broncos obtained some talented defenders this offseason, they lost a key player in the trenches. Shelby Harris, an excellent lineman, is now on the Seahawks because of the Russell Wilson trade. Run stuffer D.J. Jones is not as good, but he was a quality addition via free agency. He’ll play alongside Dre’Mont Jones and Mike Purcell on the front. Purcell is a mediocre player, while Jones is a young player with upside.

2022 Denver Broncos Schedule and Intangibles:
The thin Denver air creates a hostile environment for opponents, which explains why it had an NFL-best 77-18 home record from 1995 to 2005. The team tailed off after that, but has since reestablished its great home-field advantage. In the Peyton Manning era, the Broncos were 32-6 as hosts, including the playoffs. Denver struggled as a host since Manning’s retirement, so we’ll see if it regains that with Russell Wilson.

Brandon McManus hit 26-of-31 field goals last year, which includes 5-of-9 from 50-plus. He was 10-of-15 from beyond 50 the prior year.

The Broncos had one of the worst punters in the NFL in 2019, so they brought in Sam Martin to be a nice upgrade. Martin has been in the middle of the pack since.

Denver had problems on special teams last year, surrendering two touchdowns and failing to score one of their own.

The Broncos have a difficult divisional schedule to navigate. The non-AFC West foes are mixed. Denver has to battle the Rams, 49ers, and Cardinals, but they also get to battle the Seahawks, Jets, Jaguars, and Texans.

2022 Denver Broncos Rookies:
Go here for the Broncos Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2022 Denver Broncos Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2022 Denver Broncos Analysis: The Broncos have instantly become Super Bowl contenders with Russell Wilson on the roster. They already had a great running game, talented receivers, a solid offensive line, and a strong defense. All they were missing was a quarterback, and they were able to obtain one of the best at the position. Aside from injuries, the only thing that can hold the Broncos back is the toughest division in the NFL.

Projection: 12-5 (2nd in AFC West)

2021 Projection: 9-8. 2021 Actual Result: 7-10.
2020 Projection: 8-8. 2020 Actual Result: 5-11.
2019 Projection: 7-9. 2019 Actual Result: 7-9.
2018 Projection: 8-8. 2018 Actual Result: 6-10.
2017 Projection: 7-9. 2017 Actual Result: 5-11.
2016 Projection: 7-9. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2022 NFL Draft: The Broncos have decided to go all in with Russell Wilson. They should add a blocker to get the most out of Wilson; otherwise, they’ll need to focus on filling some holes on defense, including cornerback and linebacker.

2022 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Denver didn’t quite obtain the blocker I wanted it to until late in the draft, so Wilson will have to operate with what he currently had on the roster. The Broncos at least found him a new tight end to replace Noah Fant. This was done with Greg Dulcich, and Denver was able to trade down to obtain him.

Most of Denver’s other picks were solid. This includes the initial choice, Nik Bonitto, who will provide needed edge-rushing depth to combat all the other talented quarterbacks in the AFC. The same can be said of fourth-round cornerback Damarri Mathis, who was a decent value when Denver picked him.

I didn’t like some of the Broncos’ other selections like Eyioma Uwazurike and Montrell Washington. I wish the Broncos used those picks to help Wilson in some way. I’m sure Wilson feels similarly, given the horrible offensive lines he endured during his time in Seattle. With that in mind, I can’t grade Denver’s draft too favorably, though I like some of the picks they made, and I’m a fan of how they traded down in order to acquire more depth.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

64. Nik Bonitto, DE/OLB, Oklahoma – B+ Grade
Nik “Casa” Bonitto is a bit of a tweener, but he’s an explosive edge rusher. The Broncos signed Randy Gregory, but they can’t count on him to be a long-term player across from Bradley Chubb. Bonitto could be that guy.

80. Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA – A- Grade
I mocked Greg Dulcich to the Broncos at No. 75, so I’m glad they were able to trade down five spots and pick up some value! Tight end makes sense here after Denver traded Noah Fant to Seattle. I like Albert Okwuegbunam, but the Broncos want to give Russell Wilson two capable tight ends to throw to, and Dulcich has good upside.

115. Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh – B+ Grade
The Broncos had to address their cornerback situation, as it’s not very promising outside of Patrick Surtain. Damarri Mathis could help sooner rather than later, as he’s a solid choice here in the fourth round. I’ve had him in this range in most updates.

116. Eyioma Uwazurike, DT, Iowa State – C Grade
Eyioma Uwazurike impressed during pre-draft workouts and did a good job of improving his draft stock, but I think this is a bit too rich for him. I had him pegged in the sixth round, so I’m not a fan of this pick, though it potentially fills a need.

152. Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, Oklahoma – B Grade
The Broncos need to get younger at safety, so this pick makes a lot of sense. Delarrin Turner-Yell is someone I mocked around this range, so this is a solid pick for Denver.

162. Montrell Washington, KR, Samford – C Grade
Montrell Washington wasn’t on my radar at all for any of my mock drafts, perhaps because he’s just a special teamer. He could end up being a good kick returner for the Broncos, but I have to admit that I didn’t get to watch many Samford games.

171. Luke Wattenberg, C, Washington – C Grade
Luke Wattenberg is another player I didn’t consider in my mock drafts, but at least he fills a need. The Broncos need to protect Russell Wilson as well as possible, and they were looking for some center competition.

206. Matt Henningsen, DE/DT, Wisconsin – B Grade
Matt Henningsen never made it into my mock draft, but perhaps he should have after he posted some terrific numbers at his pro day. I like the Broncos taking a chance on such an athletic player late in the draft. Defensive line depth needed to be addressed.

232. Faion Hicks, CB, Wisconsin – B Grade
Faion Hicks is a small corner (5-10, 185), but he posted some impressive testing numbers at his pro day, including a 4.37 40. With quality upside, he’s worth a shot in the seventh round.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Broncos began the season with a 3-0 record, but faded down the stretch. Vic Fangio was promptly fired, so Denver will be headed in a new direction. That’s where the quarterback situation needs to go as well.

Offseason Moves:
  • Broncos sign OT Billy Turner
  • Broncos sign CB K’Waun Williams
  • Broncos sign LB Alex Singleton
  • Broncos sign QB Josh Johnson
  • Broncos sign OT/G Tom Compton
  • Broncos sign DT D.J. Jones
  • Broncos acquire QB Russell Wilson for DT Shelby Harris, TE Noah Fant, QB Drew Lock, draft picks

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Vic Fangio said it. The quarterbacks on this team stink. Denver needs an upgrade at the position way more than anything. Traded for Russell Wilson

    2. Edge Rusher: Von Miller is gone, so Denver will have to find a new edge rusher to start across from Bradley Chubb. Signed Randy Gregory

    3. Two Inside Linebackers: Denver’s run defense suffered when Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell were lost for the year. Now, they’re both headed for free agency. The Broncos must retain at least one of them. Re-signed Josey Jewell; signed Alex Singleton

    4. Defensive Tackle: The Seahawks acquired Shelby Harris, so he’ll need to be replaced. Signed D.J. Jones

    5. Slot Cornerback: Bryce Callahan is entering free agency, but he’s often injured anyway. Signed K’Waun Williams

    6. Safety: Kareem Jackson is another impending free agent, so the Broncos will need to replace him unless they think Caden Sterns is the answer.

    7. Offensive Line Depth: The Broncos have some offensive linemen heading for free agency, so depth will have to be replenished. Signed Tom Compton

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2022 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. K’Waun Williams, CB, 49ers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Broncos (2 years, $7 million)

      K’Waun Williams is an excellent slot cornerback. The only concern is his age (31 in October), but he has shown no signs of slowing down.

    2. D.J. Jones, DT, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Broncos (3 years, $30 million)

      D.J. Jones is a quality run stuffer who can get after the quarterback on occasion. He has done well for himself, considering he was a former sixth-round pick.

    3. Randy Gregory, DE, Cowboys. Age: 29.
      Signed with Broncos (5 years, $70 million)

      Randy Gregory is an amazing force when on the field, but it’s been proven that it’s extremely difficult to count on him remaining out of trouble.

    4. Billy Turner, OT/G, Packers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Broncos

      The Packers overpaid Billy Turner a few years ago. Financials prompted this release, but Billy Turner is a solid offensive lineman who can play both right tackle and guard.

    5. Tom Compton, OT/G, 49ers. Age: 33.
      Signed with Broncos (1 year)

      Tom Compton stepped in for an injured Mike McGlinchey and did very well, especially when it came to run blocking. He’s 33, however, so there aren’t many great days left.

    6. Joe Schobert, LB, Steelers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Broncos

      Joe Schobert was a quality linebacker for the Browns, but has struggled ever since joining the Steelers.

    7. Alex Singleton, LB, Eagles. Age: 28.
      Signed with Broncos

      Alex Singleton is a sound tackler who thrives in run support, but he tends to get abused in coverage.

    8. Josh Johnson, QB, Ravens. Age: 36. — Signed with Broncos

    Denver Broncos Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Josey Jewell, LB, Broncos. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Broncos (2 years, $11 million)

      Josey Jewell was making huge strides every season, so it was a shame to see him get knocked out for the season with a torn pectoral in Week 2. He should be 100 percent for 2022.

    2. Alexander Johnson, LB, Broncos. Age: 30.
      Denver’s defense sorely missed Alexander Johnson last year when he went down in Week 6 with a torn pectoral. He’s an excellent linebacker, though he could lose a step soon now that he’s in his 30s.

    3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Broncos

      Javonte Williams’ fantasy owners will argue that Melvin Gordon just got in the way, but Gordon was an explosive runner for the Broncos this past season.

    4. Bryce Callahan, CB, Broncos. Age: 30.
      Signed with Chargers (1 year)

      If Bryce Callahan were younger and healthier, he would be ranked much higher than this because he’s an excellent slot cornerback. However, he’s an injury-prone 30-year-old now.

    5. Kyle Fuller, CB, Broncos. Age: 30.
      Signed with Ravens (1 year)

      Kyle Fuller was a terrific cornerback for the Bears, but he regressed considerably in Denver last year, which was odd because he was coached by Vic Fangio again. Perhaps he’ll rebound next year.

    6. Kareem Jackson, S, Broncos. Age: 34.
      Re-signed with Broncos (1 year)

      Kareem Jackson has been one of the better safeties in the NFL for years, but he finally showed his age a bit last year. He’s now 34, so there could be more regression in the near future.

    7. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Broncos. Age: 29.
      Signed with Dolphins (1 year)

      Teddy Bridgewater is a capable starting quarterback, capable of taking a team to the playoffs if everything around him is right. Bridgewater becomes a liability if things fall apart around him, however.

    8. Bobby Massie, OT, Broncos. Age: 33.
      Bobby Massie looked washed up in Chicago, but he played very well with Denver this past season. He turns 33 soon, so he could go back to regressing.

    9. Kenny Young, LB, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Raiders
    10. Cameron Fleming, OT, Broncos. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Broncos
    11. Shamar Stephen, DE/DT, Broncos. Age: 31.
    12. Stephen Weatherly, DE, Broncos. Age: 28.
    13. Eric Saubert, TE, Broncos. Age: 28.
    14. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Texans
    15. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Broncos. Age: 29.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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