The Denver Broncos went from bottom-feeders in the AFC West to Super Bowl contenders seemingly overnight. That happened because of one simple move, trading for future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson. But it was costly, as the Broncos sent the Seattle Seahawks two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth round selection. That doesn’t even include the players they sent to Seattle in the deal.

Despite being without some of their most prized draft pick selections, the Broncos still had an interesting draft. We grade each of the Denver Broncos selections from the 2022 NFL Draft.

Denver Broncos 2022 NFL Draft Grades

Rd 2 Pick 64 – LB Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma)

Click here for a grade and analysis on the Broncos’ selection of Nik Bonitto.

Rd 3 Pick 80 – TE Greg Dulcich (UCLA)

Click here for a grade and analysis on the Broncos’ selection of Greg Dulcich.

Rd 4 Pick 115 – CB Damarri Mathis (Pitt)

The Broncos traded down and out of the end of the 3rd round and acquired pick 115 in the 4th round. With the pick, they selected cornerback Damarri Mathis. The 5’11” Mathis opted out of running most of the drills at the 2022 NFL Combine, but he did post a quick 4.39 40-yard dash time. Mathis has a slender frame, but he still uses a good amount of physicality to disrupt a wide receiver’s routes and ball catching. He is a very secure tackler and rarely allows ball carriers to escape from a tackle.

Mathis does have a history of panicking downfield and getting handsy with a receiver, bringing a decent amount of penalties called against him. He played decent in cover 3 defenses in college, but scouts were concerned with his ability to succeed in that defense in the pros. He isn’t a bonafide man-to-man cornerback but could provide help defending the run or in some zone situations.

Mathis played 12 games in 2021, accumulating 43 tackles, 5 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions. He did miss the 2020 season due to a shoulder injury.

Mathis is a developmental cornerback who could improve his skills in a consistently high-ranked Broncos secondary.

Selection grade: B-

Rd 4 Pick 116 – DE Eyioma Uwazurike (Iowa State)

Eyioma Uwazurike was a solid four-year starter with the Iowa State Cyclones. He has great size at 6’6″ and 316 lbs. Despite his size, he still possesses some decent athleticism that makes him a very interesting prospect. In college, he played each position along the defensive line. His best season statistically happened in 2021 when he was voted to first-team All Big-12. He tallied 43 tackles, 12 being tackles for a loss. He also tallied nine sacks.

Uwazurike utilizes both swim and bull rush moves and forces offensive lineman to keep moving, which opens possible sack opportunities. He does however have a below-average burst when heading upfield and slow lateral movement.

After trading Shelby Harris to the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos found themselves much thinner along the defensive line. Drafting Uwazurike addresses the defensive line depth, but he is not expected to be a starter in his rookie season. He has a middle-of-the-road projection but has the potential to develop into a solid backup and possibly, down the line, a starter.

Selection grade: B-

Rd 5 Pick 152 – S Delarrin Turner-Yell (Oklahoma)

Delarrin Turner-Yell was a three-year starter at Oklahoma who struggled to stay healthy for a full season. During his college career, he tallied 136 solo tackles and 4 interceptions.

He possesses great fluidity in space, whether it’s as a run defender or in coverage. He has great anticipation on the field, but his desire to make big plays sometimes hurts his coverage discipline. Despite his smaller size, he does have the play strength and tools to eventually develop into a solid tackler in the NFL.

The Broncos already have two legitimate safety starters in Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. At best, Turner-Yell could find himself in a depth position or on the special teams unit.

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Selection grade: C+

Rd 5 Pick 162 – WR Montrell Washington (Samford)

The Broncos decided to not re-sign punt returner Diontae Spencer after two seasons with mediocre production. Last season, per Football Outsiders, the Broncos had the fifth-worst punt return unit in the NFL. Looking to upgrade, the team drafted WR Montrell Washington out of Samford.

Washington comes from a smaller school in the FCS and didn’t garner much attention before the draft. At Samford, he didn’t make an impact as a punt returner until his junior year. In his junior year, he averaged 20 yards per return and was named an All-American return specialist. In 2021 he was also named to the All-SoCon team as a wide receiver and punt returner.

Washington provides speed and shiftiness that could be a welcome change to the Broncos punt return unit. He most likely won’t find a place in the Broncos’ stacked wide receiver room, but he will make a solid run at being the team’s punt/kick returner.

Selection grade: C+

Rd 5 Pick 171 – C Luke Wattenburg (Washington)

Luke Wattenburg played at Washington for six seasons and was a starter for four of them. During the shortened 2020 season, Wattenburg was an honorable mention for All-Pac-12 honors. He was also an honorable mention for the same honor in 2021.

Draft analysts fear Wattenburg may not have what it takes to have a successful pro career. In fact, he wasn’t even projected to be drafted in some mock drafts. Wattenberg seems to struggle in situations where opposing players use power moves against him. He sometimes gets too easily thrown off balance and needs to better learn how to place his feet below him to prevent falling.

When pass blocking he can quickly get his hands up. He also provides a commitment to finding additional work after succeeding with his initial block.

Selection grade: D

Rd 6 Pick 206 – DE Matt Henningsen (Wisconsin)

According to Eric Galko, Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel for the Shrine Bowl, the Broncos got “one of the best athletes” in the draft in Matt Henningsen.

At Wisconsin’s pro day, Henningsen posted an impressive 37 1/2 inch vertical leap as well as a 9 ft 11-inch broad jump. He does not shy away from physical battles in the trenches. However, he lacks finesse and skill moves, relying on his power moves.

Henningsen could provide some explosive power along the Broncos’ defensive line. McTelvin Agim has yet to turn into the player the Broncos want, which potentially opens the door for a different starting left defensive end. Henningsen most likely won’t find himself in a starting role in his rookie season, but he does have a decent shot at making the final roster in a depth position.

Selection grade: B-

Rd 7 Pick 232 – CB Faion Hicks (Wisconsin)

The Broncos used their final pick in the draft on cornerback Faion Hicks. Hicks succeeds the most in press-man coverages, as he can sometimes match the speed and release of the receiver. When he is in the proper position he is known to aggressively make a play on the ball and is not afraid to make a big hit if need be.

His recognition of routes tends to be a bit below average. This leads him to occasionally lag behind a receiver, and when attempting a tackle, he can struggle to fully wrap up. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein mentioned that in Wisconsin’s game against Penn State, Hicks looked “badly overmatched” covering WR Jahan Dotson.

Selection grade: C-

Final thoughts

Overall, Broncos GM George Paton had himself a decent draft. Was it one of the best drafts in the league this year? No. Was it middle-of-the-road but addressed depth concerns? Yes. The Broncos weren’t expected to make any big “splash” selections in the draft. The splash happened when the team acquired Russell Wilson, and that acquisition will be the point of focus for the upcoming season.