BRONCOS

Three key observations from George Paton’s pre-draft press conference

Apr 22, 2022, 12:35 PM | Updated: Apr 26, 2022, 8:08 am
George Paton...
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

My favorite press conference of the year happened on Friday. It was the annual pre-draft press conference, and the Denver Broncos had both general manager George Paton and assistant general manager Darren Mougey talk to the media.

Paton has a great eye for talent, and he should be able to pluck those mid rounds of some of the best talent available. It won’t just be the players that slide who everyone knows about. I’m sure Paton has some sleeper prospects he’s willing to take higher than others in the league.

“There’s going to be value in those rounds, upgrade our depth, upgrade our speed….we don’t need to reach for players. I talk about flexibility all the time, we can move up, we can move down, we can take the best player available.” Paton said.

Here are the three biggest observations from the Broncos pre-draft press conference.

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Instincts First

The inside linebacker position has changed in today’s NFL. Gone are the days of the two-down thumper who just stuffs the run. ILBs in the NFL today must be able to cover because of the emergence of the tight end position as a weapon in the passing game. This draft class has some interesting inside linebackers I feel the Broncos are going to be looking at, but I wanted to know what traits are important at the position.

I had to ask Paton and Mougey about what they’re looking for at inside linebacker. His answer was very thorough, and it began with one trait held in the highest regard over all the others – instinct.

I believe the Broncos need to add an ILB in the draft, perhaps with one of their first picks. For whatever player they may considering, instincts are paramount. The physical skill set (size, speed, etc) are easy to see. What separates good players from great players is the ability to play fast without thinking – that’s where instincts come in.

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Double Class

Paton hit on something today that I’ve been talking about on the air. The 2022 NFL draft is actually a double class of talent. The 2020 season was cancelled or shortened with many programs because of COVID-19. That means many players decided to stay one more year in college in order to help their draft stock. This has created a surplus of talent you don’t normally see in a regular year.

The picks between 50-120 are going to feature several future starters. In fact, I’ve called that range of the draft the “meat” of this class. In that span, the Broncos have five of their nine picks, so they’ll have plenty of meat left on the bone when it comes to starting-caliber talent. The double class means teams have more of an opportunity to add quality talent, and I fully expect Paton and Mougey to be ready to pounce.

If you were to pick a year to have nearly double-digit picks, this would be the year. If you would pick a year to have a stockpile of mid-round picks, this would be the year. The Broncos don’t have a first-round pick, but they are in a nice position to acquire many future starters in the second and third rounds.

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Moving On Up?

I’d be surprised if the Broncos first pick, no.64 overall, is actually where they’re going to select. Instead, I think this team will move up in the draft. Perhaps the Broncos won’t move up far, but I feel there are going to be a few players who they just can’t pass up the opportunity to draft.

Paton was frank when asked about the possibility of moving up. He did not discount the possibility they could move into the first round, but Paton believes there’s more of a chance they move up in the second round. I wholeheartedly agree with Paton. They’ll have 10 or so players they’re projecting to be there at no.64 and if that group dries up, the Broncos will move up. If someone drops to the mid second round that should’ve never been there, I think the Broncos would move up. Paton basically told everyone they’d be active in the second round.

We’ll see if the Broncos move up. Paton did make that sound like it’s a possibility, but specifically in the second round. I’ll be on the edge of my seat, but on Friday during the second round I – and the Broncos – will be on alert.

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Three key observations from George Paton’s pre-draft press conference