American Football

2023 NFL Draft: Hart’s defensive big board

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2021 NFL Draft
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Mile High Report staff writer Christopher Hart shares his unconventional Denver Broncos Big Board for defensive prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

As outlined in my offensive big board post, the Denver Broncos lack capital for the 2023 NFL Draft. That could certainly change, but with only five picks and many needs to address, the franchise will have to be discrete with how they use their picks.

I’ve chosen to forego giving a numerical list and have chosen to focus on a handful of prospects at each position group defensively that could help the team out. Most of the top-rated players at each position won’t be mentioned, because barring some sort of craziness, none of them will be there when the Broncos are on the clock.

Even so, hopefully a handful of the below-mentioned prospects are picked. Let’s take a deeper look at each position and see who could be available.

Defensive Linemen

The Broncos lost Dre’Mont Jones and DeShawn Williams in free agency who were the top two snap count players along Denver’s defensive trenches. They replaced Jones with Zach Allen and D.J. Jones is set to man the nose tackle position, but who is going to see an increase in reps besides them.

Longtime veteran Mike Purcell is still in the fold and last year Day 3 picks Eyioma Uwazurike and Matt Henningsen saw playing time as rookies. In my opinion, it would be smart for them to add another player into the mix.

Wisconsin stalwart Keeanu Benton would be a dream selection for the Broncos. In fact, I wouldn’t even mind them trading up for him. He’s that good. Auburn product Colby Wooden is someone I feel the Broncos should pursue as well. I think he is a Top 125 selection and would give the franchise a player who can play outside and inside in Vance Joseph’s defense.

Other prospects I like for the Broncos are Moro Ojomo out of Texas, Zacch Pickens from South Carolina, and Karl Brooks from Bowling Green. I wouldn’t be surprised if those guys are third-round selections. Perhaps the Broncos take an upside bet on Day 3 with LS’s Jaquelin Roy, West Virginia product Dante Stills.

Outside Linebacker / Edge

The Broncos’ edge room is composed of Randy Gregory, Baron Browning, Nik Bonitto, Jacob Martin, Jonathon Cooper, and Chris Allen. There is a lot of potential in that room, but there is also room for long-term improvement.

This year’s class at the position group has a ton of quality prospects. They go early and often, but perhaps Auburn’s Derick Hall, Georgia Tech’s Keion White, Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey, or Ohio State’s Zach Harrison intrigue the Broncos if available.

I don’t think Will McDonald falls, but if he did, I’d be all about the Broncos scooping him up. Same goes for Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore or Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Pass rushing is an NFL premium and I would like to see Denver add at least one prospect in this draft at the position.

Inside Linebacker

Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell are the incumbent starters for the 2023 season. It’s not a dire need for the Broncos, but competition for Justin Strnad (final year of rookie deal) and Jonas Griffith does make sense. I just don’t know that it’s a position they chase in the draft being short on picks.

Oregon’s Noah Sewell is an option to consider if the Broncos felt the need to take one early. Alabama’s Henry To’oTo’o could merit Late Day 2 consideration as well. The Broncos have taken a close look at Texas star DeMarvion Overshown, Tulane’s Dorian Williams, and Florida’s Ventrell Miller.

Day 3 guys I like are SirVocea Dennis of Pittsburgh, Cam Jones of Indiana, and Nick Hampton of Appalachian State. We will see where they go, but it seems like a mid-to-late round pick would be the highest investment they make here. But I could be wrong!

Defensive Secondary

The future is bright for Patrick Surtain II and Damarri Mathis. I’m a firm believer that they could become one of the best duos in the NFL. K’Waun Williams was a very good player in the slot last season, but I feel the Broncos would be wise to try and add depth to that room.

Whether it’s someone who can play the boundary or a versatile corner who can play a utility role in their defensive secondary, I have a feeling they would like to add to that room. They have had multiple meetings with a few prospects at the position. So it’s clear they are definitely interested in drafting someone.

Kansas State prospect Julius Brents could be available for the Broncos in the third-round. Other names to consider are Cory Trice, Jr. of Purdue, Darius Rush of South Carolina, and Riley Moss out of Iowa.

Garrett Williams of Syracuse is also a name to keep an eye on. Before his injury, he was widely-regarded as a Top 50 selection. Some even thought he could be a first-round pick. Maybe the Broncos could get some value by trading back in the third, getting some other selections, and taking a gamble on him late on Day 2 or early Day 3.

I’m not sure the Broncos would draft a safety early, but Illinois sensation Jartavius Martin is a personal favorite of mine. I think he will be an impact player in the NFL and would be a Swiss Army defender for the Broncos’ defense. I think he is fair game in the third-round.

I also think that Florida State’s Jammie Robinson, California’s Daniel Scott, Notre Dame’s Brandon Joseph, and Alabama’s Jordan Battle will be good pro players. I think they are Top 125 prospects and would bring versatility and competition to that position group.

Broncos Country, who are some of your favorite defensive players in this class you would love to see the Broncos pick? Sound off in the comments section and make your voice heard. Happy NFL Draft Day!

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