"By TKO in the 7th..." - A Denver Broncos 7-Round Mock Draft Special
By Gabe Morris
It’s been a few months since my last opportunity to put virtual pen to paper, but life has finally quieted for a few moments, and it’s NFL Draft Season, so if ever there is a ‘right time’ to resurface, this would be that time. So without further ado, let’s hit the ground running with the most treasured and reviled of offseason practices - the Mock Draft.
Thanks to the gracious invitation of fellow Broncos draftnik and Twitter compatriot, Jolene Mulumba
(@ugandasjoy01) - a highly recommended follow, by the way - I was recently afforded the opportunity to join forces with 28 brilliant football minds from across the cyber-sphere to embark on the daunting journey of representing the Denver Broncos in a 7-Round Mock Draft, expertly hosted by Wil Masisak (@AccidentalZen) of the ‘SteelerFury Page and Podcast’
Here are a few key and essential strategies and assumptions I took into this particular Denver Broncos mock draft; an understanding of these should help you to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind each selection (although with Twitterverse draft opinions and preferences as diverse as a germ smorgasbord in a daycare, I’m under no delusion that my rationale will sit well with all who choose to read on):
1. More Darts for the Denver Broncos
In an attempt to remain true to General Manager George Paton’s philosophy and track record to this point, I began the draft with a strong desire to add picks (much to the chagrin of other draft GMs, as I was blowing up their lines from start to finish). I do not believe Paton will be content to stand pat with five selections in the upcoming draft, so we should expect that he’ll be working the phones even harder than I was - which is saying something.
2. The futures of Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy
This is perhaps the most controversial portion of this (and any) mock, and will not fly with a significant portion of Broncos Country. That said, in spite of Coach Sean Payton’s recent assertions to Tom Pelissero that the Broncos are “...not trading those two players,” I belong to a minority (and maybe a little maligned) cross-section of Broncos Country who will believe that the Broncos are not trading either player when the 2023 NFL Trade Deadline has come and gone.
To be clear, this is not because I actually want to see this come to pass - it has more to do with the difficulty of quickly repairing bridges that have been significantly charred by these exploratory trade conversations. What else is a coach supposed to say when he knows that he’s going to have to motivate and coach two players who were perhaps not moved quite as quickly as what might have been believed? Payton said the right thing, both for the preservation of the relationships and for the preservation of the player’s perceived value to other teams, but I operated under my personal assumption that their departures are still a distinct possibility until they are not.
In this particular mock draft, Sutton was moved to Houston. As for Jeudy, I held firm to the asking prices that were leaked (and then refuted, and then leaked, and then refuted) and was only able to enter exploratory-level talks with one team (Dallas). Jeudy remained with the team at the draft’s end. Let me say this, however - there is not a replacement-level wide receiver in this draft for the totality of Jerry Jeudy’s talents. If they trade him, it will be because Payton believes he can accomplish the goals of his offense with highly skilled role players rather than via the more traditional ‘Franchise WR’ you see with many teams.
A quick look at his time with the Saints, however, will show that he’s had great success with the significantly less expensive role player approach. He’s had guys who’ve put up big numbers, sure, but these have not typically been transcendent talents who would flourish on any team in the League; they needed to be in the proper Petri dishes, and Payton’s offense served as exactly that.
3. Value Approach
Unlike mock draft machines across the interwebs, a live mock features real people, with individualized draft boards and bona fide draft crushes, which brings a level of realism that can’t be replicated in a machine. As such, my number one tackle prospect will not likely match the number one prospect of the analyst representing another team. In a manner very similar to what we’ll see in April, the diversity of positional and player valuation in the eyes of these virtual GMs pushed some players up the boards, which, in turn, pushed other players down the boards. Given the dearth of picks with which I initially started, and the delayed Round-3 start, my philosophy in this draft was Best Player Available (BPA) at a Position of Need in rounds 3-5, and straight BPA in rounds 6 and 7.
4. Future Focused
Our tendency as fans is to focus on the now. What do we need at this moment? Or if we’re feeling particularly forward-thinking, ‘What do we need in April?’ Paton & Payton, however, will be looking a great deal beyond this April, and even beyond the approach I used. While evaluating the needs of the Denver Broncos for this mock, I evaluated 2023 and 2024 expiring contracts, factored in 2023 Free Agency adds/cuts (to date - which did not yet include recent addition, WR Marquez Callaway), made adjustments for fictitious trades negotiated during this draft, evaluated the opportunity to raise the floor of positional groups, and settled on the following as ‘needs’ across that two-year span:
In the interest of transparency, following each pick, I’ve included the other players that were in consideration at the time of the pick. Why not provide more ammo for the demolition of 'The Mock That Gabe Morris Built'? I’m a glutton for punishment, I suppose.
So without further ado - and with eyes wide open as to the potential of this mock draft to be the spark that actually ignites a resurgence of a weekly civil war in the Denver Broncos Twitterverse - I give you, “The 2023 SteelerFury Board Mock Draft: Denver Broncos Edition”: