The Denver Broncos will be on the clock in just two weeks’ time once the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around. Running a simulation using Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator, the Broncos made several surprising picks that require more clarity.

Denver Broncos latest mock draft

Without manually selecting options in the latest Mock Draft Monday, the Denver Broncos made some surprising picks with their five draft picks from a simulated standpoint.

Round 3, Pick 67 – Brandon Joseph, Safety – Notre Dame
This was perhaps the most interesting draft pick to start off a simulation for the Broncos in round three. Obviously, Justin Simmons will be Denver’s premier starter at safety, but this pick was surprising considering Caden Sterns is projected to start at safety opposite of Simmons.

Perhaps the simulator factored in that Sterns is coming off of reconstructive hip surgery but with the knowledge of him expected to be ready for training camp, maybe this move was made as an insurance policy by general manager George Paton and new head coach Sean Payton.

Joseph excelled in his first three seasons at Northwestern before transferring this past season to Notre Dame. In his career, he has 159 career tackles and 10 interceptions — nine came from his time at Northwestern and one while with Notre Dame.

Six of his 10 career picks came in 2020. At 6’1 192 lbs, Joseph is projected as an average backup or special teams player according to his NFL Draft profile.

NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein described his projected view of Joseph.

“Joseph has adequate size and a good football IQ, but he must prove he can become a more technically sound tackler for consideration as an interchangeable safety,” Zierlein said. “He sees the field fairly clearly as a free safety. He has the ball skills and instincts to help coral and challenge action in front of him. While he can be a punishing hitter when running the alley, tackling inconsistencies in the open field could be hard for teams to overlook. Joseph’s traits and special teams talent give him the opportunity to battle for a backup safety spot as a Day 3 selection.”

Overall this would be a surprising pick for Denver at this position of the draft.

Round 3, Pick 68 – Noah Sewell, LB – Oregon
Noah Sewell would be a surprisingly underrated pickup for the Denver Broncos, but at 68th overall is questionable.

With Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell returning as the projected starters this upcoming season, Sewell could be in a perfect position to step into a starting role in one or two seasons.

Considering that Jewell and Justin Strnad are entering the final year of their deals in Denver, the linebacker position will be important for Paton to address either in this year’s draft or free agency next season.

At 6’1 245 lbs, Sewell is projected to be an average backup or special teams player from a grading standpoint.

“Inside ‘backer possessing throwback demeanor as a physical but limited prospect,” NFL Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein described. “Sewell has good power to take on blocks and muddy the middle, but his lack of pursuit speed and change-of-direction quickness prevent him from consistently making the stop. He needs to become more anticipatory and read play development more effectively, as he’s missing the tools necessary to overcome missteps.”

It’s important to note that many NFL Draft prospects overcome a lot of what their pre-draft scouting profiles say about them. If a team believes there are traits there that can be developed with the right coaching, they may take a chance on them.

Round 4, Pick 108 – Sam LaPorta, TE – Iowa
In this Mock Draft Monday, this could be the steal of the draft for the Broncos.

Many in Broncos Country may be asking why Denver needs to draft a tight end, here’s why.

While Greg Dulcich returns in 2023, he has been impacted by two hamstring injuries that have hurt his availability. On top of that, new head coach Sean Payton had some interesting comments about Dulcich when asked about the soon-to-be second-year tight end.

“We’ll see,” Payton said of Dulcich. “We haven’t gone through every player relative to the evaluation process. Some of it was hard—the evaluation. Some of it was hard.”

Payton’s comments were surprising to everyone, but maybe he enters 2023 from an outside perspective that could give him clarity most of us can’t see.

Outside of Dulcich, Denver added blocking tight end Chris Manhertz this offseason and his role appears to be defined going into training camp in July. Albert Okwuegbunam is entering the final year of his contract with Denver but isn’t considered a lock for the roster.

He’ll have to compete for a role during training camp.

LaPorta would be a strong addition in this author’s opinion.

During his four-year career at Iowa, the former Hawkeyes tight end has the ability to contribute as an in-line blocker and impact the receiving game.

LaPorta saw limited action in the receiving department during his first two seasons at Iowa but saw a major uptick during his final two seasons. In 2021, he had 53 catches for 670 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, he had 58 receptions for 657 yards and one receiving touchdown.

According to his NFL Draft Profile, he’s projected to be a good backup who has the potential to grow into a starter.

At 6’3 245 lbs, he has the athletic traits that could allow him to further develop at the NFL level.

“Highly targeted tight end whose playing style and physical abilities land somewhere between a connected (in-line or wing) and move tight end,” according to NFL Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein. “LaPorta has the ability to threaten zone coverage and will make the basic catches. However, he lacks the desired elusiveness and ball skills to come away with the more challenging catches. LaPorta takes on run-blocking chores with inconsistent positioning but has the potential to improve with more work in that phase of the game. His catch production is splashy, but he appears to have average-starter potential at the next level.”

Could Denver snag a tight end with one of their five picks?

Round 5, Pick 139 – Jarrett Patterson, Center – Notre Dame
With Zach Strief coming over to take on coaching the Broncos offensive line, Patterson is an interesting pick for Denver.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton noted at the NFL Annual Meeting that he views Lloyd Cushenberry as their starter at the position, despite them bringing in Kyle Fuller.

“We felt like it was an area we need to address,” Payton said of Denver’s OL additions. “We feel like he’s certainly going to benefit from these additions. We haven’t met any of these guys yet, but we see him as our starting center.”

Adding Patterson to the mix considering Denver also has last year’s fifth-round draft pick Luke Wattenberg on the roster makes this pick feel like a reach.

He’s projected to be an average backup or special teams player according to his scouting profile but has some traits that could improve in the right system and structure — something that is expected to be in place with Payton.

“Compact center/guard prospect with adequate run-blocking talent but athletic limitations that create concerns in protection,” Lance Zierlein described. “Patterson’s short arms are mitigated by efficient, accurate hand strikes and an ability to stay connected to his run blocks. He might not shine individually, but he works effectively with teammates on double teams. He has good contact balance and rarely gets cheated with the firmness of his first contact. Patterson’s feet aren’t as quick as his eyes, which is apparent when he’s forced to deal with redirecting against athletic rushers. He’s scheme-dependent and needs to prove he has the functional athleticism to win more than he loses.”

Perhaps the Broncos scheme would be a good fit for him?

Round 6, Pick 195 – Jalen Green, Safety – Mississipppi State
To conclude the final pick for the Broncos in the 2023 NFL Draft, the PFN Mock Draft simulator has Denver taking another safety.

Regardless of the player, this wouldn’t be a good move for the Broncos to make considering they took a safety with the 67th overall pick. It doesn’t feel valuable for Denver to use two of their five picks on a safety, which is a position they don’t necessarily have to add to.

However, The Draft Network’s Damian Parson describes the pros and cons of Green in his NFL Draft scouting profile.

“After transferring from Texas, Jalen Green stepped into a versatile role for the Bulldogs,” Parson noted. “He is a solid athlete with good measurements. He’s predominately aligned as the strong or box safety. A willing tackler in the run game, he will trigger from depth to fill the alley vs running backs. Green diagnoses run action well. I love his enthusiasm to step up and make his presence felt in the run game. He uses good form to square up his opponents and drives through his hips to secure the ball carrier. Green flashes solid versatility, aligning at both safety positions and in man coverage as a big nickel. This versatility fits the way NFL defenses are using more three-safety looks. I think his flashes in man coverage versus tight ends give promise heading into this draft class.”

The question that would have to be asked regarding picking Green is whether or not they feel like Delarrin Turner-Yell can’t do these things. In terms of cons surrounding Green’s game, Parson notes several areas he has to improve if he will make it in the NFL.

“Green is not the most fluid mover in coverage,” Parsons mentioned. “His transitions out of his backpedal and break are segmented. These transitions take time to complete and give QBs a fraction of a second or two to fit their pass into the desired window. He lacks ball production with three interceptions and seven pass breakups in his career. He is charted as allowing more touchdowns than interceptions. It would be nice to see him make more plays on the ball this season. His speed is sufficient, but do not expect Green to cover a large amount of ground from up high. As the single-high safety, his route-recognition skills must improve. He does not locate and cap the deepest route before driving on underneath threats.”

In an AFC West and modern NFL that features explosive downfield threats, adding Green wouldn’t make sense considering the moves Denver has already made.

Author’s Grade: C- This wasn’t a mock draft that added much value to areas of depth where the Denver Broncos desperately need it. Adding two safeties impacted the perception of this grade and mock. Perhaps the best addition to this entire mock was Sam LaPorta at the tight end position.

Would this mock draft worry you, Broncos Country?