Skip to main content

Broncos' Priority in the 2022 Draft? Stockpiling 2023 Capital

George Paton's draft focus this year will be split between bolstering the present roster and preparing for the future.

The 2022 NFL draft is just days away, and for Broncos Country, the start of the event this season will have fans in hurry-up-and-wait mode. The Denver Broncos won't officially go on the clock until pick No. 64 overall. 

The last pick of the second round is a long time to wait for a fanbase that has become accustomed to top-10 picks and an assortment of top-100 selections on the first two days of the draft. The Broncos will likely have to be patient and wait a long while before it's their turn to select a player. 

This process will no doubt test the patience and resolve of the front office and the fans alike next week. GM George Paton did not feel compelled into action last year to select a quarterback in the talented 2021 class, instead selecting young up-and-coming star cornerback in Patrick Surtain II, and then came out on top by landing bonafide franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. Good things come to those who wait.

This is true for many aspects in life, but it also can be true for the draft. Not being overly zealous about a specific prospect and instead, playing the board as it falls, understanding that a high volume of selections lends itself to a higher probability of landing difference-makers, and trading back to accumulate future draft picks for a discount make good practice when thinking the long game for the draft. The draft may be about to happen in the now, but the event itself will always be about the promise of the future.

The future in Denver is as bright as it has been in many years. After trading for Wilson, the Broncos actually have a legitimate chance to contend in the AFC West. There are no guarantees, and there are a number of excellent quarterbacks the Broncos will have to defeat, but the hope and belief in Denver are founded more in reality than the “anything could happen so I choose to believe” that fans had to convince themselves of over the last half-decade.

Faith might precede the miracle but actual belief founded in previously observed outcomes is preferable for this betting man when it comes to football. The Broncos do have their franchise quarterback but it came at a hefty price. 

Parting with pick No. 9 overall and 40 this season, as well as a 2023 first and second-rounder, the Broncos' draft pick chest looks rather barren on the whole. Fortunately for the forward-thinking Paton, trading Von Miller in a season where the Broncos were obviously going nowhere fast, the GM still finds himself in the middle of the pack in terms of draft pick value in 2022.

What happens next on the Broncos? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Please take a second, sign up for our free newsletter, and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

Where things start to get dicey for the Broncos is looking toward the 2023 draft and the volume and quality of selections the team currently possesses. With just four draft picks in total currently belonging to the Broncos in the team’s own third, fourth, and fifth-round pick, plus the Minnesota Vikings’ seventh-rounder (Stephen Weatherly trade), the lack of picks next season is likely keeping Paton up at night. Somehow, someway, he needs to figure out how to accumulate more swings of the bat with draft picks in next season’s draft.

The future gets even more concerning when considering the way Paton and the Broncos attacked this offseason because the team will receive no compensatory selections next season either. While this is partially because no players from the 2021 Broncos have gone on to sign an outside contract that could result in comp picks back to Denver, a likely indictment on the talent level the Broncos rostered last season, if Paton is going to help accumulate more draft capital for the team’s thin assortment of picks, it’s likely going to be acquired from trading around in the 2022 draft.

With Denver currently owning selections 64, 75, 96, 115, and 116, it shouldn’t be the slightest bit shocking to look back and see Denver only made three picks in that range due to Paton’s wheeling and dealing, moving back in the draft and starting to add picks for 2023. It’s unlikely Denver will be able to add any top-50-level selections by trading back this year but moving back and adding draft picks later in this draft class and future late picks can help the Broncos fill out the back end of the roster with cheap, cost-controlled players on rookie contracts and get Paton closer to his magic number of 10 picks in any given draft class.

Closer to the start of the regular season, one could imagine that the Broncos continue to look to add 2023 draft picks by reversing the roles they played last season. Acquiring the likes of Weatherly and Kenny Young last season helped solidify weaknesses on the roster and gave Vic Fangio's coaching staff a chance to right the ship and save their jobs. 

This year, it shouldn’t shock fans if Denver is the team trading away back-end-of-the-roster type players that Paton could live without to help add future late-round picks. Why the obsession with draft picks and the volume of selections? 

Not only does acquiring additional picks (especially picks in the top-100 to 120 in the draft) give a team a better chance of “hitting” on players, but for the Broncos specifically, it will be extremely important for Paton to identify and add young players later in the draft to the roster. With the Broncos currently projected to have only $11,503,536 in cap space next season (22nd most in the NFL) and Wilson likely to receive a mega-contract extension after this season, Denver will need as many cost-controlled players on a rookie contract as it can get.

The Broncos currently own nine picks in the 2022 draft, and they very well may wind up with more when the draft has passed, but undoubtedly, the accumulated value of each pick will likely be lower after the draft than it stands right now with Paton focusing on obtaining future capital in trade downs with other teams. As Paton said in his recent pre-draft press conference, the Broncos won’t force a trade-down to stockpile 2023 picks, but the team would certainly love to add more picks for the currently thin collection in next season’s draft.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickKendellMHH.

Follow Mile High Huddle on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!