The Denver Broncos added free agent Randy Gregory to a five-year deal worth up to $70 million. Even with Gregory in tow, George Paton will likely add to the edge group during April’s NFL Draft.
News broke Tuesday that Gregory had shoulder surgery recently, which Broncos Country were made aware per Mike Klis of 9 News.
— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) March 29, 2022
Gregory will likely spend most of the offseason rehabbing. However, Klis outlines in his report that Gregory should be healthy by the start of training camp.
Without Gregory’s injury, the Broncos needed to add to the defense with the lowest pass rush win rate in the NFL according to ESPN Analytics. Add Gregory’s injury and the uncertainty of his rushing mate Bradley Chubb, whose contract expires after this season, and adding a pass rusher is now square in the crosshairs for Paton come draft time.
During the NFL Owners Meetings in Palm Beach, Paton eluded to moving up in the draft if the right deal is there. However, Paton may not need to move up to the first round for a talented pass rusher, but he might fall in love with one available early in Round 2.
Pass rushers projected to be available near the Broncos’ top selection
The edge position is deep in April’s draft, and the Broncos should be able to get a contributor with their first selection.
Here are some options that may be in play for Paton with the team’s first draft selection, No. 64 overall.
David Ojabo – Michigan
At 6’5″, 250 pounds, David Ojabo has a nice blend of length and athleticism.
David Ojabo is a DE prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.35 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 94 out of 1428 DE from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/RSFRZEofQK #RAS pic.twitter.com/vaZ2xMh6pN
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 25, 2022
He displays explosion off the line and shows tremendous bend around the corner. Ojabo was seen as a Round 1 talent following the season. However, an Achilles injury during his pro day will likely cause the former Michigan product to drop. If he falls far enough on draft night, Paton may pounce on the chance to land Ojabo. Even if Ojabo had to sit during his rookie season, his potential makes him too good to pass up.
Boye Mafe – Minnesota
The Minnesota edge defender is a prospect who translates nicely to a 3-4 rush outside linebacker. At 6’3″ and 261 pounds, Boye Mafe is a phenomenal athlete and offers a strong presence at the point of attack.
So Boye Mafe is damn explosive, extremely quick and twitchy and he shows it on this rep. pic.twitter.com/tCdGtrxDlt
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) February 2, 2022
Mafe has progressed in his collegiate career cultivating with a 10-sack season in 2021. That progress and tremendous testing will likely cause Mafe’s draft stock to jump from a mid-round prospect to a potential first-round selection.
With room to grow, Mafe could provide the Broncos with a player who can contribute immediately while having plenty of room to grow.
Drake Jackson – USC
Drake Jackson‘s name has seemed to go under the radar when draftniks discuss premier edge players available in this year’s draft. With a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.82, Jackson shows plenty of attributes associated with elite edge players. At 6’2″ and 254 pounds, Jackson fits the profile of a 3-4 edge defender.
Drake Jackson. SIR! pic.twitter.com/Jjd7HsdKpo
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) July 14, 2021
Throughout his time at USC, Jackson constantly showed athleticism and versatility as he lined up in a two-point and three-point stance. Having experience lining up across the defensive front could be handy for defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero as he attempts to maximize pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
This is the area of Arnold Ebiketie's game that has jumped out to me more as I've watched several games on All-22. He has underrated power as a rusher and coupled with his quickness slanting inside, he can be a real problem penetrating gaps to disrupt the pocket. pic.twitter.com/KS9tqdNy0j
— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) March 28, 2022
Ebiketie transferred from Temple to Penn State. There could have been an assumption his production would take time to materialize. However, Ebiketie has shown a great repertoire of inside and outside rush moves that could fit well in Denver. His 10.5 sack and 18.5 tackle-for-loss 2021 was a nice preview of what he can offer the Broncos next season.
Myjai Sanders – Cincinnati
Myjai Sanders has been a prominent name in draft circles for two seasons and securing 18 sacks over that time span. The 6’5″, 258 pound Cincinnati Bearcat dominated throughout his time in the American Athletic Conference. Like the prospects listed before him, Sanders is a plus athlete.
One prospect who could look like Day 2 steal in 2-3 years is @GoBearcatsFB EDGE Myjai Sanders. @MyjaiSanders had fifth fastest max acceleration (5.88) among all players at Senior Bowl behind only 3 DBs and 1 LB. Here’s how that type of explosive closing burst looks on a field.🔥 pic.twitter.com/KImQNcj1XO
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 27, 2022
Sanders is a prospect with a long frame and uses leverage well. Additionally, he operates with a tremendous motor and makes plays all over the field.
Other Day Two Prospects
Kingsley Enagbare – EDGE – South Carolina
Nik Bonitto – EDGE – Oklahoma
Isaiah Thomas – EDGE – Oklahoma
Jeffrey Gunter – EDGE – Coastal Carolina