Sunday, April 30, 2023

Denver Broncos 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Denver Broncos? What are they saying about the Broncos' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B

The trade for Russell Wilson cost the team first- and second-round picks in this year's draft. The first-round pick gained from Miami for Bradley Chubb was used to hire head coach Sean Payton. Mims will outperform his draft status as a playmaker inside and outside, much like former Bronco Emmanuel Sanders. The team found appropriate value with its third-round picks, needing an athletic linebacker like Drew Sanders and competitive defensive back in Moss (though trading a future third-rounder to land him was a high price).

They added tight end Adam Trautman from head coach Sean Payton's former team in a trade on Saturday, which seems like good value. Forsyth could become a starter at center but trading away third-day picks will force them to find even more talent after the draft on the offensive and defensive lines.

ESPN - Grade: B

The Broncos spent big money on offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers in free agency, hoping to shore up a line that allowed a league-worst 63 sacks last season. With their top two picks going to Seattle as the last remnants of the Russell Wilson trade -- and another first-rounder, acquired for edge rusher Bradley Chubb, going to New Orleans for coach Sean Payton -- it was a step to get ahead of their biggest needs.

That left the first draft picks of the Payton era falling at the top of Round 3, though they ended up packaging together selections to take wideout Marvin Mims Jr. (63) at the end of Round 2. It's a good fit for Mims, who has upside as a deep threat, though Denver has a deep depth chart for now.

I mentioned inside linebacker Drew Sanders (67) and defensive back Riley Moss (83) in my Friday recap; they're both good players. The issue is the 2024 third-rounder Denver gave up to grab Moss, which dings this class. I had a fourth-round grade on safety JL Skinner (183), so the Broncos got good value on Day 3.

We know Wilson had a horrid Year 1 in Denver, but is there reason for optimism now with Payton on board? I think so, even if it doesn't quite make Denver a Super Bowl contender. The Broncos did decently with what they had this weekend.

SI - Grade: D+

The Broncos moved all over the board, beginning with their first pick at the end of the second round. Denver was curious in its marriage of need and value, selecting Mims despite being stocked at receiver with Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton. Moss is a quality corner who starred at the Senior Bowl, and could be a nice piece across from star corner Patrick Surtain II. It was a surprise Denver didn't address the offensive line or a pass rusher, despite potential value being there for general manager George Paton.

PFF - Grade: B+

Day 2: An analytics darling, Mims averaged 19.5 yards per catch over the course of his career in college. Despite not being the biggest player, he still managed to win 54.5% of the contested targets he saw. He tracks the ball in the air really well, averaged 2.75 yards per route run and was fifth in the nation with 602 yards on throws 20-plus yards downfield.

Sanders was the consensus No. 37 overall player and can play all over. He has the ability to drop in coverage and come forward as a pass-rusher, as evidenced by his 75.0-plus pass-rush and coverage grades. The Broncos will deploy him everywhere, with a likely primary role as the strongside linebacker, and their strong defense just got even better in the front seven.

Moss brings plenty of experience, playing more than 2,500 career defensive snaps at Iowa, much of which came in zone coverage. He's an above-average athlete who earned coverage grades above 81.0 in each of the past two seasons for the Hawkeyes, joining Patrick Surtain II, Damarri Mathis and K'Waun Williams in the Broncos' secondary.

Day 3: At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Skinner could be a safety/linebacker hybrid at the next level, with 58 defensive stops over the last two seasons. Skinner earned an 83.3 coverage grade in 2022 but belongs closer to the line of scrimmage to get the most out of his skill set.

Fox Sports - Grade: C-

They gave up their top pick for Sean Payton, but using their first selection on receiver Marvin Mims was surprising. Third-round linebacker Drew Sanders was seen as a potential first-rounder, so there's value there. This draft also meant they've gone four straight years not taking an OL in the first two rounds. As a small bonus, Payton got tight end Adam Trautman from his old Saints in a pick swap, who could be a steal.

USA Today - Grade: D-

Second-round WR Marvin Mims Jr. and third-round LB Drew Sanders are flashy but potentially flawed players. That aside, new HC Sean Payton didn't have his Round 1 or organic Round 2 picks due to the 2022 trade he didn't make for Russell Wilson, a move that is an abject failure through one season ... and TBD if Payton can rectify it.

The Ringer - Grade: C+

The Broncos came into the draft without first- and second-rounders thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, so they were extremely short-handed from the start. But I liked what they did with their limited capital. Former Oklahoma receiver Marvin Mims Jr. is a fun fit for this offense, giving Wilson a moon-ball receiver who can threaten defenses deep. And Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders was a nice value in the third round, giving the team a versatile defender who is capable of lining up both off the ball and on the edge as a pass-rusher. I'm not sure trading a future third-rounder to move up and take Iowa cornerback Riley Moss was the best move, but overall, Denver made the most of their picks.

Sporting News - Grade: B+

The Broncos didn't have much draft capital a year after the Russell Wilson trade but they maximized it with Sanders, Moos and Skinner being all good active playmaking fits for Vance Joesph's new attack defense. Mims seemed like an odd pick, however, given wide receiver being deep for Wilson, unless they plan a post-draft trade. It probably signals they don't want to invest too much more in Jerry Jeudy to keep with Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B

Like the Browns, the Broncos gave up a boatload of draft capital for a quarterback whose best days might be behind him, but they did a very impressive job with the picks they had. Mims is one of the better and more nuanced deep receivers in this class, and if he's not catching passes right away in Sean Payton's offense, it won't be his fault. Drew Sanders (sic) trnafered from Alabama because he couldn't get reps as an edge-rusher and moved to off-ball linebacker, which now gives him a really interesting two-level skill set.

You'll hear people saying that Riley Moss should move to safety, but the tape doesn't show that at all — he's a quick, aggressive cornerback who will give up the occasional big play, but is just as likely to erase his target. And I had a third-round grade on Skinner, who is one of the more interlining deep safeties in this class.

The Broncos are the inverse Jay-Z — they have one (huge) problem, and about 99 things going well, and this draft class is in the latter category.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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