Denver Broncos 7-Round Mock Draft including blockbuster trades

Capital One Orange Bowl - Texas A&M v North Carolina
Capital One Orange Bowl - Texas A&M v North Carolina / Mark Brown/GettyImages
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Less than 10 days until the highly anticipated 2023 NFL Draft officially gets underway and it seems the excitement steadily rises day by day and rightfully so. The Denver Broncos will not be on the clock until Day 2 of the draft, barring any surprise of a huge trade-up. They do, however, possess two picks in the top 5 spots of the 3rd round and could potentially trade up into the 2nd round considering they could utilize future capital or even assets on their own roster.

In this mock draft, I used the Pro Football Network mock draft simulator to make Denver's selections and had multiple trade-down opportunities along the way however, I went with a bit of a surprise move as I noticed a stud offensive player falling down the boards. Using a star receiver on the roster, I decided to trade into the 2nd round and capitalize on a rare opportunity.

Round 2, Pick No. 54: Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

WR. 5'9'' 171 lbs. 2. player. 441. . . Josh Downs

Prior to this selection, the Detroit Lions had traded down with the New Orleans Saints before accepting Denver's offer of Courtland Sutton and a 2024 6th-round pick for the 54th overall pick.

Very often, there are prospects that end up falling down boards after being projected much higher and when the talented, speedy WR Josh Downs was available at pick 54, I had to pull the trigger. Easily a top 5 WR in this draft and is currently a projected 2nd-round pick, very similar to his old friend at UNC in running back Javonte Williams.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos traded up to the 35th overall pick with the Atlanta Falcons to select Javonte Williams before the Miami Dolphins were able to snag him, despite Denver having doubts that RB would be a need atop their wishlist. GM George Paton has always seemed to have been a "best player available" guy when it comes to the draft and if he spots another UNC offensive weapon falling down the boards in Josh Downs, a trade-up is a very realistic possibility, especially with Sean Payton being the team's new head coach.

Even with a lack of draft capital, history has shown you can expect Sean Payton to be ultra-aggressive in pursuing trade options for his preferred draft prospects as he is expected to be heavily involved in the draft process with George Paton and company.

Josh Downs is a very exciting option who brings pure vertical and lateral speed as well as his explosiveness in open space that would flourish in Sean Payton's offense. Payton is ecstatic for receivers that can do damage in the open field and even when the blocking isn't particularly great, Downs is beyond excellent at slipping out of tackles and picking up extra yards after contact. He has shades of Tyreek Hill in his game to the comparison of their quickness and twitchy element in their game. Downs' combination of acceleration and playmaking ability makes him one of the most enticing WRs in the draft the Broncos cannot pass on if the opportunity presents itself.

Moving on from Courtland Sutton in the trade would be a tough pill to swallow however, when the trade results in acquiring a receiver that is a younger, better fit for the offense, and will be on a rookie contract, it's almost an upgrade. Yes, it will take Downs a few games to have anywhere near the impact Sutton would contribute to the Broncos however, this deal makes too much sense for Denver's future.

Josh Downs is just 21 years old while Courtland Sutton will be turning 28 years old later this year. Sutton will also be due an average $13.5M annual base salary for the remaining three years of his contract in Denver while Downs would be at a much-discounted price. The Broncos are in need of a fast WR that can stretch the field and make life easier on WRs Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and others. Sutton simply does not bring that element. Josh Downs would be the dynamic slot WR the team has been missing for years and will change the game in ways Broncos country would salvage over for years to come.

If this trade were to become completed, free agent addition Marquez Callaway is a very sneaky option to replace the "Courtland Sutton role" in Payton's offensive plans. Denver has made it very evident they want to add another talented WR to the team as they heavily pursued Allen Lazard in free agency and made a run at Adam Thielen before signing with the Carolina Panthers. Both George Paton and Sean Payton have attempted smokescreens as they reiterated multiple times this year's WR group "isn't a deep class". Knowing the front office's recent aggressive tendencies, WR is absolutely on the table for the Broncos early in the draft.