The Denver Broncos will be on the clock in nearly two weeks’ time during the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Without having a first or second-round pick, the Broncos will have to wait to build their roster.

Denver Broncos latest Third Round Thursday Mock Draft

In the second-installment of Third Round Thursday, utilizing Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator — the Denver Broncos were on the clock with the 67th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The simulator focused on the Broncos’ defense by adding immediate depth to two positions that could benefit from the selections.

Pick 67 – Eli Ricks, Cornerback – Alabama
The simulator’s first selection for the Broncos was Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Eli Ricks.

Ricks story and path to the 2023 NFL Draft is filled with highs and lows, but how he ended the 2022 college football season leaves room for potential.

Just two years ago, Ricks was a player who many believed would be a future first-round draft pick.

As a member of the LSU Tigers in 2020, Ricks turned in a tremendous season — snagging four interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns, racking up 20 tackles, and five passes defensed.

In 2021, he played in just six games after suffering a torn labrum which required surgery. Shortly after 2021, he transferred to Alabama to play under head coach Nick Saban.

He got off to a rough start as a member of the Crimson Tide after being arrested in May for speeding and first possession of marijuana offense.

Ricks is young, he’s a human being and NFL teams questioned him about the incident at the NFL Scouting Combine. There aren’t any character concerns for him and most NFL teams will consider him at various points of the NFL Draft.

While things didn’t get off to a hot start in Tuscaloosa, Ricks emerged midway in the season for Saban and the Crimson Tide defense. Against Mississippi State, Ricks came up big in the passing game for Saban — knocking away four passes against a very talented receiving corp.

His 6’2 195lb athletic frame could transition well in the NFL and he could make a strong case to back up Patrick Surtain and Damarri Mathis in 2023. Pair him with a coach like Christian Parker and Broncos fans will see the impact.

Pick 68 – Derick Hall, Edge Rusher – Auburn
With the 68th overall pick, the Broncos selected Auburn edge rusher Derick Hall.

This move would be a strong addition for Denver’s depth at the position that features plenty of question marks heading into the season.

Both Randy Gregory and Baron Browning are expected to be the starters in Vance Joseph’s defense this upcoming season. With a brand new coaching staff coming in around new head coach Sean Payton, anything is on the table for Denver in the NFL Draft.

Depth behind Gregory and Browning features last year’s second-round draft pick Nik Bonitto, 2021 seventh-rounder Jonathon Cooper, Jacob Martin, and Aaron Patrick.

The Broncos are hopeful that Bonitto can take the necessary steps forward after a learning year in 2022. Cooper is a reliable option off the edge who could emerge as the team’s best 12th-man option on defense, Martin could compete and secure a backup role and play on special teams.

Patrick is coming off of an ACL injury and his timeline isn’t currently known regarding being ready for training camp.

Snagging an edge rusher at this part of the draft is a great insurance policy for the Broncos who are hopeful Gregory and others can remain healthy at the position.

Hall is a strong choice here for Denver. He’s grown tremendously as a player since his freshman year back in 2019.

Over the course of the last three seasons, Hall has accumulated 19.5 sacks, 29.5 tackles for a loss, and 136 tackles.

Listed at 6’3 254lbs, NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein noted that an AFC scout told him “He’s tight-limbed and he’s more segmented than you want, but he’s tougher than s— and he’s going to be a great fit in a locker room.”

There isn’t any need for him to come into Denver’s locker room to start, but he is projected to be an eventual starter in the NFL by many league executives and scouts, which could bode well for him being in a position with the Broncos down the line.

Author’s grade – A: If the Broncos were to make these selections in back-to-back picks, it would help improve the questionable depth Denver has at two impact positions. These are guys who won’t start right away, but could be core role players and eventual starters in a year or two.