Sean Payton reveals Broncos landed steals all throughout 2024 draft class

The Denver Broncos got some...great value in the 2024 NFL Draft
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Every year, teams come out after the NFL Draft and talk about how they got "their guys" at just about every juncture. You're rarely ever -- if ever -- going to hear any NFL coach or GM talking about how they missed out on the guys they wanted and had to settle for whoever they ended up drafting. With that being said, it's also pretty rare to hear a head coach come out and talk about the specific grades a team had on players after the draft is over. Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton did exactly that.

Payton and the Broncos needed to come away from the 2024 NFL Draft with a combination of instant impact as well as some actual potential building blocks given the team's lack of capital since the Russell Wilson trade. It's still extremely early for each of these picks, but Payton revealed that the Broncos got a lot of their mid-round players at least a round or two later than they had them graded.

"You try not to be an instant evaluator, but I would say that I was encouraged. I was encouraged after the draft because with each of these selections—and it doesn’t always fall this way—but after [QB] Bo [Nix], we are then in the third round taking a player [with OLB Jonah] Elliss, who we had a second-round grade on. Then we get to the fourth round, and we have a second-round grade on [WR] Troy [Franklin]. The fifth round, we have two third-round grades on the runner [RB Audric] Estime and [CB Kris] Abrams-Draine and so on, even to our seventh rounders. That doesn’t always happen. Obviously, it can’t happen if you don’t have a lot of picks, but we were close to our normal number of picks again. Then the validation that they belong, you get to see the early first impressions. Then we hold reservations until we get the pads. I was encouraged with this class."

Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)

This isn't the first time we're hearing Payton talking about having a second-round grade on a player like Troy Franklin, or even Jonah Elliss. He's spoken in the past about the fact that the Broncos almost took Franklin with the 76th overall pick but they had such a high value on Elliss that they couldn't pass on him there. As Franklin fell to day three, there was a funny story about Payton basically calling general manager George Paton and waking him up on Day 3 of the NFL Draft talking about how they needed to move up for the former Oregon receiver.

We knew the Broncos liked those two picks a lot, but this is the first time we're hearing of a third-round grade on players like Audric Estimé and Kris Abrams-Draine, at least from the Broncos' side of things. Those players received some third-round grades from analysts and pundits in the NFL and NFL Draft community, but knowing exactly what the Broncos think of them is huge.

What makes it even more interesting is that Broncos GM George Paton had previously stated that he didn't feel like the depth of this draft class was its strength. While that may be true, it can also be true that the Broncos were able to land guys they had higher grades on at every juncture of the draft. Even in a class that you don't expect to be deep, it's impossible to know how the board will fall. In this case, it seems it fell fortuitously for the Broncos.

Even though it's unfair, there are going to be extremely high expectations heaped upon the Broncos' rookie class. Whether or not he intended it, Payton has now contributed to that in a big way.