Denver Broncos Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Drew Sanders, OLB, Arkansas – Round 3
With Von Miller and Bradley Chubb traded away over the past two years, the Broncos have had to go about restocking their edge-rush talent. By signing Randy Gregory and drafting Nik Bonitto last year, Denver started the process, but the team still could use more talent. Gregory can line up with his hand in the ground, and Bonitto can move around the defensive front. Sanders, meanwhile, is similar in that he can rush off the edge or play some traditional off-the-ball linebacker.

When watching Arkansas last year, it was very apparent that Sanders was a dangerous edge defender who was capable of sacking the quarterback on any play. He is very explosive off the ball, possessing a lightning-fast first-step and tremendous speed around the corner. Sanders is athletic to dip and weave around blockers while maintaining speed to close. With good vision and instincts, Sanders is a natural pass rusher who is a dynamic quarterback hunter.

Sanders flashes pass-coverage ability, looking smooth in space. He can drop into zone coverage and will read the offense well. With his quickness and athleticism, Sanders covers a lot of ground in a hurry. He will need additional development for pass coverage in the NFL, but that is understandable considering he was really only a 1-year starter.

In run defense, Sanders is good in pursuit and will make tackles downfield. However, strength is the aspect that Sanders needed to add for the NFL. He needs to get tougher at defending downhill runs coming straight at him, get stronger to shed blocks in the pass rush, and develop a powerful lower body to maintain his feet. Team sources said they feel Sanders is not physical and slides into a lot of his run tackles downfield. They want to see him be more physical and make more of his run tackles playing downhill. Hence, Sanders might not become a middle linebacker talent and will really fit as an outside linebacker only.

Sanders’ weakness as a run defender keeps him from being a boom pick, but after some developmental time, he could easily become a solid starter. With Bonitto and Gregory as the starters, Sanders is in a good situation to develop and be used rotationally as he adjusts to the NFL. While Sanders might not be a star, he could end up being a quality contributor for Denver and form a nice outside linebacker tandem with Bonitto.

2022: Nik Bonitto, OLB
2021: Patrick Surtain, CB
2020: K.J. Hamler, WR
2019: Drew Lock, QB
2018: Courtland Sutton, WR
2017: Demarcus Walker, DE
2016: Devontae Booker, RB
2015: Jeff Heuerman, TE
2014: Lamin Barrow, LB
2013: Sylvester Williams, DE

Most Likely To Bust

The Broncos made three sound choices on the second day of the draft. I don’t think any of Marvin Mims Jr., Drew Sanders or Riley Moss are likely to bust. The other players in the Denver draft class were late-round picks, so none can really be a bust if they don’t work out.

2022: Greg Dulcich, TE
2021: Baron Browning, LB
2020: McTelvin Agim, DT
2019: Dalton Risner, OT
2018: Isaac Yiadom, CB
2017: Carlos Henderson, WR
2016: Justin Simmons, S
2015: Ty Sambrailo, OT
2014: Bradley Roby, CB
2013: Montee Ball, RB

Potential Boom Pick

While I don’t see a boom pick in Denver’s draft class, the organization got a trio of players on the second day of the draft who could turn into solid contributors.

2021: None
2021: Javonte Williams, RB
2020: Jerry Jeudy, WR
2019: Noah Fant, TE
2018: Bradley Chubb, DE
2017: Garett Bolles, OT
2016: Paxton Lynch, QB
2015: Shane Ray, LB
2014: Cody Latimer, WR
2013: Quanterus Smith, DE

Future Depth Player

Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Oklahoma – Round 2
Mims was a surprising pick for the Broncos in the second round considering they have a trio of talented veteran starters in Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Jeudy may not be re-signed, so that could open up a spot for Mims to advance into a starting role. Even if Jeudy sticks around, Mims should be a quality fourth wideout and speed receiver.

Mims (5-11, 183) is a fast and explosive receiver who is capable of torching a defense. However, he has a thin build and could struggle to avoid getting re-routed and to break free from stronger cornerbacks. Mims’ size might hold him back from being a steady three-down starter, but at least he definitely could become a good rotational wideout.

2022: Damarri Mathis, CB
2021: Caden Sterns, S
2020: Albert Okweugbunam, TE
2019: Dre’Mont Jones, DT
2018: DaeSean Hamilton, WR
2017: Brendan Langley, CB
2016: Connor McGovern, G
2015: Max Garcia, C
2014: Corey Nelson, LB
2013: Kayvon Webster, CB

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

63. Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma – C Grade
I don’t understand why these teams are trading up for receivers right now when there are so many talented players at the position still available. Marvin Mims isn’t Jalin Hyatt, but he’s super fast. This could mean that one of Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy will be traded.

67. Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas – A Grade
Drew Sanders definitely could have gone earlier than this. He’s a high-upside, athletic player who can be used all over the field. He can be used in the middle of the field or on the edge. I love this value.

83. Riley Moss, CB, Iowa – C- Grade
The Broncos needed a cornerback, but this is too early for Riley Moss. The Iowa prospect has some speed concerns and a checkered injury history, so I thought he would be chosen around the fifth-round range.

183. J.L. Skinner, S/LB, Boise State – B- Grade
The sixth round is the right range for J.L. Skinner, who is a safety-linebacker tweener. He may not have a natural position in the NFL, but he should be able to play special teams well.

257. Alex Forsyth, C, Oregon – A Grade
Alex Forsyth was solid in run blocking and pass protection last year at Oregon. I’m surprised he went so late; I thought he could have been taken early on Day 3.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: C-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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