Denver Broncos NFL Draft Grades 2022: Nik Bonitto adds to Denver’s pass rush

What are the Denver Broncos' grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft has officially kicked off, and the Denver Broncos have made their first selection. As the seven rounds progress and the team makes all of their picks, we will provide a live draft grade and analysis for each of the Broncos’ selections. How do these new prospects fit with the roster, what kind of impact will they have on the team, and what do the team’s needs look like now that the draft is complete?

Make sure to continue to check back as the 2022 NFL Draft continues for live Denver Broncos draft grades and analysis.

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Denver Broncos grades for 2022 NFL Draft

What are the Broncos’ grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

Round 2, Pick 64: Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma

Everyone likes to mock edge rushers in the Von Miller mold to the Broncos. It’s the kind of standard that Miller set by being such a dominant player there for so long. It’s rare to find a rusher in the mold of Miller. And there is no player like that in this class. However, Nik Bonitto does have the explosiveness and bend to provide a similar finesse element.

The gap is formed in Bonitto’s power game. The Oklahoma edge rusher doesn’t have great play strength, nor great knockback power in his hands. He’s largely a speed rusher, but he uses this one trick very well. He also weighed in at 248 pounds at the Combine and retained his athleticism, so there’s reason to believe he can get stronger. Bonitto’s lacking play strength is a notable concern as he transitions to the NFL, but he fits well as a stand-up edge rusher and a pass-rushing catalyst.

Grade: B-

Round 3, Pick 80: Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA

The Broncos sent Noah Fant to the Seattle Seahawks in the trade that netted them Russell Wilson. That transaction left Denver with Albert Okwuegbunam as their top tight end. Okwuegbunam is a solid player to have in the rotation, but the Broncos entered the 2022 NFL Draft needing more. That was likely the thought process behind taking Greg Dulcich at 80th overall.

Round 3 is a good range to invest in a position like tight end, and Dulcich’s athleticism constitutes a good investment at this point. Dulcich is a smooth athlete who can run up the seam and use space to his advantage. He also has the size and length to win in contested situations. Still, there are questions with Dulcich. He doesn’t have elite density or play strength and could have an adjustment period. He’s also a bit inconsistent as a blocker. But at this point, he does fill a notable need.

Grade: B

Round 4, Pick 115: Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh

In Round 4 of a strong cornerback class, investing in high-upside depth at the cornerback position is a smart and sensible move. That’s the move the Broncos took to kick off their Round 4 slate. At 115th overall, the Broncos selected Damarri Mathis, cornerback out of Pittsburgh.

Mathis has absurd athletic upside. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.39 at 5’11”, 196 pounds. And at the Pitt Pro Day, he jumped out of the gym with a vertical jump over 43”. Mathis’ athleticism shows up on tape. He’s incredibly explosive and physical at the line, fast enough to carry receivers upfield, and competitive at the catch point. He can tighten his technique a bit and be less grabby. Still, he’s a terrific selection at this point for a team that needs security beyond Patrick Surtain II.

Grade: A

Round 4, Pick 116: Eyioma Uwazurike, DT, Iowa State

The 199th overall prospect on the PFN Top 300 Consensus Big Board, this may be considered something of a reach for the Denver Broncos, especially with Tennessee DT Matthew Butler still on the board. Eyioma Uwazurike, however, does fill a need on the defensive front. While he’s an older rookie, he does give the Broncos a versatile option on the defensive front. He’s showcased the ability to play with excellent pad level and technique, while owning the size, length, athletic profile, and play-diagnosis capability to make an impact in the NFL.

Grade: C+

Round 5, Pick 152: Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, Oklahoma

This feels like a significant reach for the Broncos at a position where they already have sufficient depth. Delarrin Turner-Yell is a smart and experienced strong safety who showcases some aggression both in the run game and against the pass. However, with deficiencies in his coverage ability and inconsistencies as a tackler, he may be relegated to a special-teams-only role in the NFL after serving as a regular starter for the Sooners.

Grade: D

Round 5, Pick 162: Montrell Washington, WR, Samford

After posting some impressive pro day results, Montrell Washington clearly caught the eye of the Denver Broncos, who make an eye-opening pick here. The diminutive pass catcher, who measures in at 5’9” and 181 pounds, posted a 4.48-second 40-yard dash time alongside a 36” vertical and 10’4” broad jump. He’s earned some comparison to Shi Smith out of South Carolina, and having made some plays against SEC opposition, he’ll look to make an impact at the NFL level. With the likes of UCLA’s Kyle Philips still on the board here, it’s another questionable pick for the Broncos.

Grade: D

Round 5, Pick 171: Luke Wattenberg, OL, Washington

There may have been better value on the board at other positions. Instead, the Denver Broncos used their 171st overall pick to beef up the interior of their offensive line. Washington’s Luke Wattenberg is the pick after Denver picked Samford WR Montrell Washington earlier in the round.

Wattenberg is a solid player and a good addition for the Broncos. Wattenberg is a good athlete who’s quick off the snap, but he’s also well-leveraged and has a great game IQ. He’s got some versatility, but he fits best at center in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see how he, Lloyd Cushenberry, and Quinn Meinerz settle out.

Grade: B-

Round 6, Pick 206: Matt Henningsen, DT, Wisconsin

The Denver Broncos double-dip on the defensive line, having selected Eyioma Uwazurike in Round 4 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Wisconsin’s Matt Henningsen is a strong, explosive, and powerful defensive tackle prospect who plays with a hot motor and a solid anchor. If he can find consistency with his hand usage, he could find himself as a starting defensive tackle in the NFL within a few years. I like the value here more than the fourth-round selection of Uwazurike.

Grade: B+

Round 7, Pick 232: Faion Hicks, CB, Wisconsin

The Denver Broncos have made the secondary a focus on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. They added athletic Pitt CB Damarri Mathis in Round 4 before selecting Oklahoma safety Delarrin Turner-Yell. They snag some underrated depth here in the seventh round with Wisconsin safety Faion Hicks, a hyper-impressive athlete who backs up his testing numbers with smooth and fluid movements out on the field. Hicks also showcases some alluring skills at the catch point.

Grade: B

What were the Broncos’ biggest needs entering the draft?

  • RT, EDGE, CB, TE, RB

The Broncos have a very good roster and addressed their biggest need with the trade for Russell Wilson. Now, they just need to add the finishing touches heading into 2022 to become a major challenger. The stand-out needs entering the draft came at right tackle, pass rush, cornerback, and tight end.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

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