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Making Sense of Broncos' Decision to Skip OT & ILB in the Draft

Why did the Broncos ignore linebacker and offensive tackle in this year's draft? Again...

Broncos Country’s opinion of GM Geroge Paton’s 2022 NFL draft class varies significantly from the year prior. After last year's draft, the consensus was that the Denver Broncos' GM hit it out of the park. 

What makes this year different in the eyes of many fans? The neglect of two positions, in particular: offensive tackle and inside linebacker. 

Offensive tackle has been a problem for the Broncos for years, especially on the right side. The names Donald Stephenson, Menelik Watson, and Bobby Massie have inspired little to no confidence over the past six seasons. 

As it stands now, the right tackle competition is between Calvin Anderson, Tom Compton, and Billy Turner, so why pass on prospects like Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucus when they fell right in Denver's lap? Paton greatly values arm length and ability in the run game for the tackle position, and Raimann sitting with 32-inch arms falls under the 34-inch threshold for the NFL. 

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As for Lucus, his pass protection was solid but struggled mightily in the run game, and with the success of the Broncos' run game last year, it made it easier to pass him up, knowing he’d be a step back in that respect. Paton didn’t view either as day-one starters which is essential with Denver’s Super Bowl window wide open. Waiting for a prospect to develop rather than using resources to help the team now isn’t what the Broncos are aiming for currently.

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Likewise, the inside linebacker has been a point of contention for fans. While players like Josey Jewel and Alexander Johnson were solid the past couple of seasons, fans still want a true star. Wyoming's Chad Muma was especially coveted by Broncos fans heading into the draft for his coverage ability. 

However, inside linebackers will be supplemented with defensive backs in defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero’s scheme. Rather than a linebacker running with Travis Kelce, you’ll likely see a slot safety or cornerback in that spot, decreasing value of off-ball linebacker in this defense. Paton selecting three defensive backs reinforces this idea.

Although some fans aren’t ecstatic about skipping on tackle and linebacker, it is clear that Paton is currently content with the options on the team. Fans can only trust his instincts until cleats hit the turf in September. 

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