ENGLEWOOD — In the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Broncos select — Russell Wilson.
For the first time since 2012, the Broncos don't have a first-round pick in the draft. Instead, they have Wilson, for who they gave up this year's No. 9 and No. 40 overall picks, plus three other picks and three players. And Broncos GM George Paton isn't complaining that he likely won't get to select a player in the first round next Thursday when the draft begins.
"It's a blessing," Paton said Friday of not having the No. 9 and No. 40 overall picks. "We love having first-round picks, we love having the early second, but we also love having a franchise quarterback that sets the tone every day in the building. I come in here, he's here working. There's a reason he's great. It's because the work he puts into it, and all the players, the entire organization are watching. There's no pain in that."
Paton and the Broncos still have nine picks in the upcoming draft, starting with No. 64 in the second round. And Paton could move into the first round if he wants, though he admitted that is unlikely.
"It's going to be tough to move up in the first," Paton said. "I wouldn't rule it out. I would say it's much more likely we move up in the second. It's going to take a lot of capital — we've gone through all the models — to get up there in the first."
Paton is sure to make several moves during the draft, after making multiple trades to acquire more picks last year in his first draft as GM. He joked Friday that "unlike the Rams, we like picks a lot," as the Rams have recently embraced a strategy that involves trading their picks away.
While Paton likely won't ever go that far — as he's known for being a draft guru — it is a bit of relief for him and the organization that he no longer has to worry about obtaining a franchise quarterback through the draft.
"That first day, we'll watch Russell Wilson highlights," Paton said. "It's tough to wait that long. And there's going to be players falling and I know I'm going to get jumpy and the group will get jumpy. But then when I walk over here to this presser and I see the quarterback throwing to all those receivers, I feel pretty good about it. And I know I'm going to feel good Week 1, because we have a franchise quarterback who brings it every day."
Wilson, Paton on same page
With Wilson now the team's franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future, Paton is making sure he keeps his quarterback in the loop on the team's plan, including who they might draft.
In recent years, more teams have started to consult with their franchise quarterbacks about who they might draft to make those quarterbacks feel a part of the process. Paton said that will be no different with Wilson, who enjoys sharing his input.
"I talk to Russ daily," Paton said. "I kind of tell him our plan and what we're looking for and our needs, and Russ is a football junkie. And he'll want to know maybe what players we're looking at and I'll tell him and I'll watch them and he'll give me his opinion. He's a great resource and it's good having him around."
Edge top position in draft class
When the Broncos finally do get to pick, it wouldn't be a surprise if they drafted an edge rusher.
Edge is arguably the Broncos' top priority with little depth behind Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. According to Paton, this year's class is full of talented edge players, which means there should be plenty on Day 2 and 3 when the Broncos pick. Paton also added that just because they select an edge rusher, that won't mean they don't want Chubb in Denver long-term, as he enters the final year of his contract.
“I think the edge class is really strong," Paton said. "Everyone needs pass rushers, and I think there’s a number of pass rushers in this draft. So, I would say that would be the strength. I mean, there’s other positions that are strong, but I think edge is probably the No. 1 strength. I think if you’re picking in the first, high second, you can get a good tackle. I think there are some good offensive linemen. Receivers has been strong, and I think this is a strong receiver class. So, that’s probably about it.”