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Denver Broncos April Scouting Report
Charles Rives
4/5/2022

The Broncos are contenders, but still need a couple of pieces to win a Super Bowl. That could change after free agency and the Draft. They have five draft picks in 2022 somewhere between No. 64 and No. 144 that should give them some solid contributors. If they can find one starter with these picks, it will boost their chances to win with QB Russell Wilson leading the team. Wilson is already busy planning off season throwing sessions with his new wide receivers. He also face timed the entire offensive line. Because they have a new head coach, the Broncos are allowed to begin their off season program on April 4, and they will begin their voluntary off season program on April 11.

 

Offense

 

Nathaniel Hackett is why Wilson came to Denver. There is no way he would have come to play for Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmer. Hackett is positive, excited, innovative and creative. He's an outside-the-box thinker. He's a leader for the 2020s. Hackett says he tailors his offense to his players and it will be important for him to mold his offense around what Wilson wants to do and what Wilson does best. For Wilson and the Broncos to succeed, Denver needs to upgrade its offensive line with at least a starting right tackle. They will also need a strong running game so that Wilson will be able to throw his pretty deep passes. Bottom line: Wilson and Hackett need to be on the same page about what the offense does. Wilson will make the players around him better.

 

G Ben Braden (interior depth) is a gritty tough guy, but lacks flexibility and athleticism to be consistent against talented opponents. He knows Hackett's offensive system from his years in Green Bay. TE Eric Tomlinson a strictly blocking (extremely good) tight end. When G/T Tom Compton plays right tackle, he is a good run-blocker, but struggles in pass protection. He knows the offense from his time in San Francisco. QB Josh Johnson will backup Russell Wilson. Wilson is already working out with: Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, TE Albert Okwuegbunam, WR Kendall Hinton, TE/FB Andrew Beck, QB Brett Rypien, QB Josh Johnson and C Lloyd Cushenberry. Jerry Jeudy wasn't there because his mother is in the hospital, but has since worked out with Wilson. OL Billy Turner is solid and has the versatility to play many positions. The former Bronco knows the offense because of his time in Green Bay and projects to start at right tackle.

 

Defense

 

DT D J Jones is a strong presence in the interior defensive line. Jones (27-6' 304), is one of the top free agent defensive linemen and one of the best run defenders. He has pass rushing potential with his get-off at the snap and burst through the line. Jones is a really good player at a good price. Jones will be the nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. DE (likely OLB) Randy Gregory (29-6'5 240) is a top pass-rusher to pair with OLB Bradley Chubb as defensive pincers on passing downs. Gregory has multiple suspensions for substance abuse. Even so, the Broncos believe Gregory's best football is in front of him and he will be on the field and play like an elite edge rusher. Denver plans to move LB Baron Browning to the Edge to focus on rushing the passer. LB Alex Singleton could be a starter at off-ball linebacker with ILB Josey Jewell. Third-year developing S J R Reed is a tough and smart player who played for DC Ejiro Evero in Los Angeles and will provide depth for the Broncos. Solid veteran CB K'Wuan Williams will be the Broncos new slot cornerback.

 

Special Teams

 

ILB Jonas Griffith and S P. J. Locke will be key special teams players. TE Eric Tomlinson is valued as a special teams player. LB Alex Singleton was a special teams captain in Philly. S J R Reed is a very good and experienced special team player.

 

Injuries

 

KJ Hamler is ahead of schedule in his recovery. At 5-9, 178 pounds Hamler is a similar type of receiver as Tyler Lockett (5'10, 182). Hamler is already working out with Wilson. DE Randy Gregory (shoulder) had arthroscopic surgery rotator cuff and will spend the off-season rehabbing. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

 

Free Agency

 

The trade for Wilson, called for an aggressive free agency. He had good cap flexibility to improve the roster, and he has the draft capital to fill holes. Denver will likely sign other free agents for the veteran minimum. All of Paton's moves have made the Broncos better, but he still hopes to re-sign S Kareem Jackson and RB Melvin Gordon III.

 

Draft

 

Official Picks: {64 75 96 115 116} 145 193 230 232. Paton should be able to find a starter(s) and a contributor(s) at the bracketed picks. Paton thinks it is a strong draft in the middle where he is picking. Paton enters the draft with no glaring needs. Second Day Prospects: Edge rushers: Nik Bonitto; Drake Jackson; DeAngelo Malone: Amaré Barno; Alex Wright; RB: Kenneth Walker III; Isaiah Spiller; Brian Robinson Jr.. OT: Tyler Smith; Daniel Faalele. CB: Roger McCreary; Tariq Woolen. LB: Christian Harris; Leo Chenal; Chad Muma; Troy Anderson. Sleeper picks: OL Tyler Vrabel; OL Arron Frost; IOL Nick Ford; IOL Doug Kramer; WR Jaivon Heiligh; RB Keontay Ingram; RB Max Borghi (space player); WR Charleston Rambo; Reggie Roberson; WR Stanley Berryhill III; Transactions Re-signed fullback/tight end Andrew Beck to a one-year deal. Signed swing OT Calvin Anderson to a one-year contract extension. Placed one-year tenders on QB Brett Rypien, ILB Jonas Griffith and S P. J. Locke. Signed Packers G Ben Braden (interior depth) to a one-year contract. Agreed to terms with defensive tackle DJ. Jones on a three-year contract. Signing DE Randy Gregory on a five year contract. Re-signing ILB Josey Jewell (27-6'2 236) to a two-year deal. Agreed to terms TE Eric Tomlinson (30-6'6 263) on a one-year contract. Placer a right of first refusal tender on OLB Malik Reed, on a one-year deal. Signed G/T Tom Compton (33-6'6 315) to a one-year contract. Signed DL DeShawn Williams to a one-year contract. Signed veteran QB Josh Johnson to a one-year contract. Signed LB Alex Singleton (6'2 240) to a one year contract. Agreed to terms with S J. R. Reed on a one-year deal. Agreed to terms with slot CB K'Wuan Williams on 2-yr, $7m deal. Signed OL Billy Turner to one-year deal.

 

Ownership

 

The trade for Russell Wilson makes the Denver Broncos franchise more attractive for a new owner. The new owner will have an elite quarterback and he will have a clear path to immediate success as an NFL owner. A judge ruled (January) that Edgar Kaiser's estate did not have a valid or enforceable right of first refusal for a sale of the Broncos. Kaiser's heirs have appealed that ruling, which (appeal process) "could overlap, if not delay" the sale of the Broncos. The Broncos are still moving forward toward a sale despite the appeal, which they are confident they will win. They are still hoping to compete the sale before the 2022 season starts.

 

Salary Cap

 

The salary cap will hit $208.2 million, up from the 2021 cap of $182.5 million. The Broncos are usually good with the salary cap. They work through contracts structuring them so that if a player isn't working out, they can move on from them in a couple years. There's no need to wait with Wilson. They should go "all in" to add the best players for a Super Bowl run every year they have Wilson. Denver's draft picks will count for $7.98M. After re-signing OT Calvin Anderson and TE/FB Andrew Beck and giving tenders to three players, Denver's cap space total ($23.5M) is less certain. But remember that any player's average annual salary is not necessarily their cap hit. Denver created more cap space ($4.6M) by re-structuring WR Tim Patrick's contract. Then they created an additional $7.875 million in cap space by restructuring WR Courtland Sutton's contract. The Broncos now sit at $16.1 million in cap space, with 66 players under contract.

 

Orangeman's Take

 

GM George Paton had been aggressive and a gambler in free agency. He was aggressive in swinging a trade for QB Russell Wilson and a gambler with the signing of DE Randy Gregory, who has more risk than most players. Combined with an exciting new, young coaching staff, there is more excitement in Broncos country than there has been in a long time. Denver has plenty of talent in place but the team will need to up their work to match the work ethic of Wilson. Fortunately, Wilson, knows how to motivate every player. He connects with people, and builds strong relationships with honesty and telling his teammates what he thinks. Wilson holds passing camp away from the facility in the off season to build chemistry through real work. He will build trust through work ethic. The big question for the Broncos is how to mesh their run-first approach with Wilson's playing style.

 

Fantasy Outlook

 

There's a chance the Broncos could feature Javonte Williams, and he could produce like an RB1 for fantasy GMs. However, Hackett prefers a big stable of running backs and a backfield rotation. He likes to leverage his players unique skills. If Melvin Gordon III is back, both are RB2 or flex options. If not, RB Mike Boone could be RB2. Hackett likes a 50-50 split. Courtland Sutton should put up WR2 numbers with a chance of WR1 numbers if he gets more red zone targets. Jerry Jeudy is finally going to get used the right way and should see more work in the red zone. Jeudy is a number three wide receiver with WR2 potential (or higher). KJ Hamler has the potential to be Wilson's "new Tyler Lockett". Tim Patrick will be the consistent blue collar receiver and continue to be the Broncos' unsung hero. TE Albert Okwuegbunam is bigger, faster, stronger and a much better blocker than Noah Fant. Albert O is a TE2, but if he stays healthy, he could be a low-end TE1. QB Russell Wilson (a QB1/top 10) has amazing energy and work ethic and he wins. He has some good years in front of him as quarterbacks seem to have their best passing yards and TDs from age 35 to 39. The Broncos aren't focused presently on extending Wilson, but will talk after free agency (and the draft?) with the intention of keeping Wilson "here for a very long time"(Paton).

 

End.

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