Broncos 7-Round Mock Draft: Prioritizing the Run Game Early

Kyler Gordon

Getty Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon reacts.

With the Denver Broncos eliminated from playoff contention, it’s time to take an early look ahead at the 2022 NFL draft. The Broncos will be well-positioned to upgrade their roster on draft night, as they are armed with nine draft picks.

The full projected 2022 draft order heading into Week 18 can be found here, via Tankathon.

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Round 1 (11th overall): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

Yes, quarterback is the Broncos’ biggest need, but it will be hard to pass up a player as talented as Linderbaum. He is one of the most talented draft prospects at the center position in recent memory.

Linderbaum would immediately improve the team’s pass protection. The Broncos’ offensive line allowed the highest pressure rate in the NFL this season (28.6%).

In addition, he is the best run blocker in this draft class. With Linderbaum in the fold, the Broncos can build their offense around Javonte Williams and the running game.

Round 2 (42nd overall): Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

Patrick Surtain II has been excellent in his rookie season, but the Broncos could still use some depth at the cornerback position. Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan are both set to become free agents this offseason.

Gordon was phenomenal in pass coverage in 2021. When targeted, he allowed zero touchdowns and a passer rating of 49.1. Gordon and Surtain could make up one of the strongest cornerback duos in the NFL.

Round 2 (62nd overall): Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame

After trading Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams earlier this season, the Broncos could look to add another edge rusher to pair with Bradley Chubb.

Foskey is coming off a huge season for the Fighting Irish. He had 11 sacks in 13 games. Foskey proved himself against top-level competition coming up with sacks against both Cincinnati and Oklahoma State.

Round 3 (77th overall): Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

Linebacker Alexander Johnson is a fantastic run defender, but the Broncos are missing a linebacker, who can excel in coverage against tight ends and running backs.

Muma has the upside to be a complete three-down linebacker. He has great instincts and above-average athleticism. In coverage, he allowed one touchdown and recorded three interceptions this season.

In addition, he is already a great run defender. He had 142 total tackles this season, which was second in the FBS, and Pro Football Focus gave him a run defense grade of 91.1.

Muma has all the tools to be a truly complete linebacker.

Round 3 (94th overall): Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State

This is purely a “best player available” selection. Shakir is great with the ball in his hands and is dynamic after the catch.

At Boise State, he primarily played in the slot, but at 6’0″, he should be able to line up on the outside more often.

Shakir would give the Broncos another weapon in a wide receiver group with a lot of upside.

Round 4 (114th overall): Zion Nelson, OT, Miami

The Broncos are set at left tackle with Garrett Bolles, but they need to find a long-term starter at right tackle. Bobby Massie will become a free agent after the season.

During the summer, Nelson was in the second round discussion, but he has been somewhat lost in the shuffle. Nelson has excellent athleticism for a 6’5″ offensive tackle.

He has improved each season at Miami. In 2021, he started at left tackle and played a career-high 892 offensive snaps. He held his own in pass protection allowing three sacks and earning a PFF pass block grade of 85.9.

Round 5 (143rd overall): Nick Cross, S, Maryland

Safety is not a big need for the Broncos. Justin Simmons remains one of the best defensive backs in the game. Kareem Jackson will be a free agent, but this year’s free-agent class is strong at the safety position. So, Broncos should have plenty of options, even if they do not elect to re-sign Jackson.

Nick Cross is a three-time Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. As a junior, he recorded 66 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions.

He would give the Broncos added depth at safety.

Round 5 (152nd overall): Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky

Even though the Broncos did not get a quarterback in the first round of this mock draft, they still end up with an interesting quarterback prospect. Zappe threw 62 touchdowns this season! Yes, you read that right.

Zappe’s 62 passing touchdowns set a new single-season FBS record. Joe Burrow is the only other quarterback in Divison 1 history to throw at least 60 touchdowns in a single season.

At Western Kentucky, Zappe did not play the most grueling schedule, but when he faced a tough opponent, his production did not drop off. He had 488 passing yards and three touchdowns against Michigan State, and he had 577 passing yards and four touchdowns against UTSA.

Zappe was invited to both the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine. He could be a riser throughout the predraft process.

Round 7 (238th overall): Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky

Chris Rodgriguez is not the flashiest running back on tape, but he always seems to pick up extra yardage. Rodgriguez has a great combination of vision and strength.

He is one of the most efficient running backs in the country. Across his four seasons at Kentucky, he is averaging a blistering 6.6 yards per carry.

At this point in the draft, he is a nice value pick, and he would serve as a good complement to Javonte Williams.

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