Denver Broncos Day 3 NFL Draft Recap: Grades and analysis

BYU v Oregon
BYU v Oregon / Tom Hauck/GettyImages

The 2023 NFL Draft is officially complete and the Denver Broncos look forward to the undrafted free agency period after the selections of safety JL Skinner and center Alex Forsyth.

After multiple trades during days 2 and 3 of the draft, the Broncos still managed to finish with the same amount of picks as they began with and came away with very good value at their respective positions. Here are my grades and full analysis of both selections and the stunning trade for Saints TE Adam Trautman:

Round 6 Pick 183: JL Skinner, S, Boise State

S. 6'4'' 220 lbs. JL Skinner. A

Initially this pick was a bit of a surprise as other needs remained on the table including TE, EDGE, C, and others however, JL Skinner himself will be a terrific late-round addition to Denver's defense as he brings a great level of physicality and versatility to the safety position.

At 6 foot 4 and 220 pounds, Skinner is a very long, dynamic defensive back that has aligned in the box and played free safety just as effectively for the Boise State Broncos in college.

In 2022, coverage wise, Skinner showcased elite talent in the secondary racking up 65 total tackles, 4 interceptions, 5 passes defended, and allowed a low 37.8 quarterback rating when targeted. In 2021, he put on a show recording 92 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 3 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles. Another admirable mention of his progress in college was his improvement from season to season in 4 years at Boise State.

For Skinner to be available in the 6th round when analysts and mock drafts had projected him to be drafted in the late 3rd round and early 4th is quite impressive value for George Paton and the Broncos. Ultimately, it was the torn pec suffered by Skinner shortly before the combine that derailed his draft stock however, has had plenty of time to recover before the start of training camp in July.

With questions still speculating whether or not free agent Kareem Jackson will be re-signed, you have to imagine this selection further ensures Caden Sterns as the starter and Skinner in the "Kareem Jackson role", given his similar play-style and mentality to Jackson. It doesn't appear that Vance Joseph and the Broncos will change much schematically at all in 2023 from what was ran in 2022 under Ejiro Evero therefore, Skinner is the perfect fit in this defense.

Given his physicality, speed, ball skills, and the spot he was taken, this very well might be a pick that Broncos fans look back on in a few years and refer to as one of the best draft steals by George Paton in recent memory.

Adam Trautman trade

C+. TE. 6'5'' 253. Adam Trautman

As most Broncos fans eagerly waited to draft a RB or TE at pick 195 in the 6th round, Sean Payton decided to side with a proven talent that he had already coached in New Orleans. George Paton pulled the trigger and traded for former Saints 3rd round pick, Adam Trautman to fill their void at TE behind Greg Dulcich.

In his first 3 years in the NFL, Trautman has started 28 games and garnered 641 receiving yards on 60 receptions and 4 touchdowns. Not the most appealing stats but definitely serviceable. The Broncos weren't in need of a serious receiving threat and someone to immediately step in as a starter but more-so a TE that can push the young Greg Dulcich, provide some useful competition in the room, and fill the void of a missing receiving threat as Chris Manhertz was signed to be primarily used as a blocker in the run game.

Not only does Trautman provide a useful asset in the receiving game but is also an all around effective blocker the Broncos would not mind having at all. Sean Payton and the Broncos front office feel so highly of Trautman that he said they even compared him to "a handful of tight ends" that were projected in the 3rd round. Very substantial statement considered how deep and talented this year's TE class was. Tucker Kraft and Darnell Washington were both TEs drafted in the 3rd round that will eventually be starters in the NFL. Payton ultimately felt more comfortable with the player he already had experience with and is more ready to start day 1 as opposed to some of the rookies in this class.

I gave this trade a 'C+' grade due to the fact that Old Dominion TE Zack Kuntz was available at 195 and Denver could have traded back, selected him, and still picked again in the 7th round. Under TEs coach Declan Doyle and Sean Payton's staff, I have no doubt that the 6 foot 7 Kuntz would have thrived in this offense given his athletic ability. However, there's no doubt that Adam Trautman can't be just that for the Broncos considering he has already learned the offense.

Round 7 Pick 257: Alex Forsyth, C, Oregon

A. C. 6'4'' 303. Alex Forsyth

With one of the last picks in the entire draft, the Broncos once again find themselves with great value (not a Walmart joke) selecting the center Alex Forsyth, who was originally projected to be poached in earlier rounds. Sean Payton even said himself that the Broncos war room had him being picked in the 6th round of their mock drafts, thus another steal for Denver's offense.

Center was one of the team's top needs heading into the draft as there is high dis-satisfaction in Lloyd Cushenberry's play up this point in his career however, Paton waited till practically the last moment to address the need. It begs the question: "Do the Broncos truly believe in Cush as the team's starter in 2023?" Regardless, there will be a 3-way competition between newly signed Kyle Fuller, Lloyd Cushenberry, and 7th round pick Alex Forsyth.

In 2020, when Forsyth began to receive a workload of starts at Oregon, he allowed just 2 QB hurries, 1 QB hit, and 1 sack in 440 snaps. In 2021, he played in 10 games and allowed 3 QB hurries, 2 QB hits, and 2 sacks in 647 snaps. In his final season in 2022, Forsyth started in 11 games and allowed 0 QB hurries, 0 QB hits, and 0 sacks in 761 snaps. Arguably the best final season by any center drafted this year. Not to mention also has experience playing guard and tackle in the beginning of his collegiate tenure.

His improvement was stark, displayed great technique, and has 'NFL ready' strength to compete with top tier defensive tackles. His ultimate concern is his lack of athletic ability and injuries throughout college. If he can clean those two things up and continue to learn and improve his play, Forsyth can be a legitimate day 1 starter for the Broncos if he impresses coaches in training camp/pre-season.

B+. . . Complete Draft

Next. Denver Broncos Day 2 NFL Draft Recap: Grades and Analysis. dark