The news came out late Tuesday night that Melvin Gordon was coming back to the Denver Broncos for the 2022 season. That move probably changes what the Broncos were planning to do in this year’s draft, as running back was a position of priority. Other positions the Broncos will most likely address in the 2022 NFL Draft include offensive tackle, edge rusher, cornerback, and tight end. Bringing back Gordon will be beneficial in so many ways for the Broncos offense. Denver re-signing Melvin Gordon will pay off immediately because of the flexibility the Broncos now have, as running back is no longer a need.
Denver Broncos Re-signing Melvin Gordon Prior to the 2022 NFL Draft Was Smart
Running Back Needs Have Now Been Addressed
Looking at the prospects the Broncos had pre-draft visits with, running back was a position that George Paton was looking to address this year. Javonte Williams needed some help and now he will get it. Gordon had 1,131 total yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in 2021 and he will help an already explosive offense. Perhaps more importantly, it will help extend Williams’ career. Williams, who is undoubtedly one of the hardest runners in the league, will welcome back a familiar face to help him carry the load.
Draft Capital and Russell Wilson
With the Broncos offensive backfield now taken care of, this newly acquired wiggle room is going to keep Broncos fans guessing, as the 2022 NFL Draft is going to be a different experience. This is the first draft in a decade in which Denver does not have a first-round pick, and only the fourth time since 1995 (2022, 2012, 2005, 1995). This will also be the case next year, as the Broncos traded their 2022 and 2023 first-round picks, both second-rounders in 2022 and 2023, a 2022 fifth-round selection, along with Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, and Noah Fant, for Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.
While this might have some Broncos faithful worried, they must not forget the purgatory they have been in. Denver has finally found the first stable quarterback since Peyton Manning left in 2015. At the annual pre-draft press conference, general manager George Paton had an idea of what to do instead of watching a Bronco-less first round, “On that first day, we’ll watch Russell Wilson highlights.”
That seems to be an incredibly fun idea, but it will still be very interesting to see what the Broncos do with their first pick of the 2022 draft. That pick will take some patience to wait for though, as it is the literal last pick of the second round (pick 64). Fortunately, after the long wait, Denver will have picks 75, 96, 115, 116, 145, 207, and 233. That means Denver has four picks in the first 116, and eight total. So it’s not as dire as some fans would like to think. There is room to improve the team with the draft picks that were not given up in the Wilson deal.
Broncos fans should be optimistic, however. Paton has proven his ability to put together a strong draft, as he won an award for it in 2021. It is crucial that a team is able to find talent in those later rounds, as those are the championship-building rounds. Now that Melvin Gordon is back, what can Broncos fans expect to happen at pick 64?
Pass rusher has been an area of interest for the Broncos. Both projected starting pass rushers, Randy Gregory and Bradly Chubb have had issues with injuries in their short careers. Drafting an edge rusher would not be a bad idea, especially in a league where teams cannot have enough pass rushers. In the pre-draft press conference, Paton mentioned, “You just can’t have enough pass-rushers,” You know, if we take a pass-rusher it has nothing to do with Bradley, we can’t have enough, Randy Gregory, Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper, that’s how you win. You get a wave, you get a wave of rushers, and you have an offense that can score points, and you get leads and then you throw this pass rush at them.” (h/t ESPN).
Look for Drake Jackson, an edge rusher from USC to be a possible target for the Broncos at this spot. It might be a possibility that the Broncos trade up if they feel as though Jackson might be in jeopardy. Do not be surprised if this happens, or if pass rusher Nik Bonitto from Oklahoma is elected instead.
If Jackson or Bonitto are not available at 64, offensive lineman could be the answer for the Broncos. While the 2022 version of the Denver Broncos could already be the best offensive line Wilson has had, questions still linger around an offensive line that has not had consistent play at right tackle since 2015. The Broncos have shown interest in Washington State’s Abraham Lucas, which would help bring some stability and depth.
A couple of other names to keep an eye on are both linebackers. Troy Anderson from Montana State and Quay Walker from Georgia. Linebacker is perhaps the position that requires depth. It would not be a stretch if the Broncos decide to go need instead of the best available player.
Possibility of Moving Back Into the First Round
Could the Broncos pull a shocking trade to move back into the first round? That is highly unlikely but not impossible. “It’s going to be tough to move up into the first, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” Paton said. “I would say it’s much more likely that we move up in the second or move back. It’s going to take a lot of capital. We’ve gone through all the models to get up there in the first [round]. You never rule it out, but I think it’s more likely we move up into the second.” (h/t SB Nation)
It seems that the Broncos will go after what fits their team and needs best and not just jump back into the first round, just for the sake of it. Paton has shown the ability to not only be patient but know exactly who he wants to go after. Expect this draft to be similar now that Paton and the Broncos will not have to draft a running back, as the Broncos re-signing Melvin Gordon will provide Denver with some flexibility.