Denver Broncos make shocking pick with Drew Sanders in round 3

Liberty v Arkansas
Liberty v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos had no picks until the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and then in the blink of an eye, Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims and Arkansas Drew Sanders were on the team. Drew Sanders was taken by the Broncos with their 67th overall pick in round three, and that selection has certainly sent some shockwaves throughout Broncos Country.

The team went out in NFL Free Agency and re-signed veteran Alex Singleton to a three-year deal worth $18 million. Josey Jewell was signed last offseason to a two-year deal, so his contract will expire after the season. Jonas Griffith was brought back as an exclusive rights free agent, and will be a restricted free agent in 2024.

The Broncos must have felt that there would be instant impact from Drew Sanders on special teams and perhaps defensively as a unique kind of weapon out there. Sanders' story is pretty fascinating as he started his collegiate career as a five-star recruit who spent a couple of seasons at a backup. He transferred within the SEC to the Arkansas Razorbacks, where he really emerged as a big-time NFL prospect.

Denver Broncos land Drew Sanders in surprise pick during the 2023 NFL Draft

In 2022 for Arkansas, Sanders racked up 103 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, five passes defensed, and an interception. To say he's all over the field would be an understatement. One thing that people need to know about Sanders as well? The dude can play special teams. A variety times while he was at Alabama, he was voted the team's special teams player of the week.

He's going to make an impact on this Denver Broncos roster, and the question now becomes how can the team deploy him without taking Josey Jewell or Alex Singleton off the field? Will Vance Joseph be throwing three off-ball linebackers out there at times? Can someone like Drew Sanders come in and play off the edge a little bit?

Whatever the case, this was not an expected pick for the Broncos by any means. Dane Brugler of The Athletic had Sanders as his #1 ranked linebacker in this class. There were times when Sanders was projected in the later portion of round one, early round two. He's certainly not a bad prospect, by any means, and in the third round, you can't help but throw away "positional value"

This was all about the Broncos landing a player they felt could make an immediate impact, and we've seen Sean Payton put an emphasis on special teams since he arrived. I think this pick is as much about that phase now as it is about defense down the line.

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