The Denver Broncos are currently consumed with interviewing and hiring a new head coach. GM George Paton just concluded the sixth of 10 head-coach interviews on Wednesday.
Once the Broncos settle on a head coach, it will inform, at least in part, how the team approaches the 2022 NFL draft. Will the Broncos draft a quarterback or do something else?
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. foresees the latter. In his first mock draft of 2022, Kiper selected talented Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean at pick 9 for Denver.
Dean is an intriguing linebacker prospect and he oozes intangibles. However, at 6-foot and 225 pounds, he's a bit on the light side.
If the Broncos hire Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and move to a 4-3 base defense, Dean would make a lot of sense as a 'Will' — or weakside — linebacker. Think Wesley Woodyard circa 2012 or Ian Gold circa 2001 — both of whom barely clocked over 220 pounds.
As an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme wherein Dean would be tasked with shedding blocks from massive 300-pound interior linemen, he'd get swallowed up. As a 4-3 Will, that's something to get excited about especially considering Dean's leadership acumen and football IQ.
Dean was a big part of Georgia's National Championship, finishing the season with 72 combined tackles (36 solo), 10.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He also scored on one of his takeaways.
At 21 years old, the sky is the limit for Dean. But it'll be crucial that he lands in the right NFL city in order to maximize his talent.
Meanwhile, the Broncos will still have to figure out the quarterback position and if Paton comes up empty in the Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson sweepstakes, that new head coach might not want to wait until next year to draft a quarterback.
The Broncos currently hold the No. 9 overall pick and that will put them within striking distance of several of this class' top signal-callers. Whether or not any of the 2022 quarterbacks are worthy of a first-round pick, let alone a top-10 selection, is debatable.
That's why Paton could opt to run it back with Drew Lock (barring an NFL veteran acquired via trade) and use that No. 9 pick to bolster the team long-term. Linebacker is a prominent roster need and Dean would add much to Denver's depth.
Last year, Kiper predicted that the Broncos would draft Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who ultimately landed in Dallas after Paton passed on him to draft Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. Nobody is even close to perfect when it comes to predicting how the draft will fall, not even the 'godfather' of mock drafts.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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