ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Broncos fans may not be feeling the same pre-draft excitement as usual, but the team is operating in the exact same way as if they had more draft picks.

“We’re going to approach the first day of the draft like we’re picking,” general manager George Paton said during his pre-draft press conference. “That’s how we’ve prepared our draft meetings; we’re preparing like we’re picking in the first round and in the second round. That’ll be our approach. We’ll monitor each pick, and we’ll discuss each pick compared to our grade. We’ll look at the trades and look at who’s falling. I think we’re going to be locked in like we have first-round pick on that first day.”

Thanks to trades for quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Sean Payton, the Broncos aren’t scheduled to make their first selection until Day 2 of the draft, when they have back-to-back picks near the start of the third round. They also have selections in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, which will be held on Saturday, the third day of the draft.

“The whole preparation leading into this draft was grading from the very top of the board through the first round and through the second as if you have every pick and even more picks,” Payton said.

The Broncos spent weeks building their draft board by ranking players at each position, and then combining those position groups into one master list of players. When it’s their turn to make a pick, they’ll see who the best remaining player on the board is, and then pull the trigger. It’s that simple.

“The disagreements or the discussions (about who to pick) are weeks prior or days prior (to the draft,” Payton said.

The tweaks to the system come when discussing potential trades.

The Broncos front office has put together a general list of players that they would be willing to trade up for, but those determinations can be fluid based on how the board falls. They’ll also be willing to trade back, particularly if they think they can trade back and draft the same player, as Paton said was the case with tight end Greg Dulcich last season.

“You do a lot of these exercises, and we’ll continue to do them,” Paton said. “We’ve done them the last two weeks. There are not a lot of surprises because we’ll talk through every scenario. (Payton and I) are both open minded to move up and move back. It just kind of depends on where it is.”

Payton and Paton will be the key decision-makers, with assistant general manager Darren Mougey helping out as well. They’ll keep the same core group of people in the war room who have been working in the room to prep for the last month; coordinators, scouts, the analytics team. They’ll keep the doctors and position coaches nearby in case they need to ask questions.

“I wouldn’t use the term ‘festive.’ It’s business, it’s work,” Payton said. “It’s the same people that have been in that room for the last three weeks until 9 p.m. at night. I’ve always said, ‘We don’t like strangers.’ I’m that way on gameday. People who you see through the whole process, you’re comfortable seeing them [on gameday]. It’s the new faces that haven’t been a part of the process that you turn around.”

The Broncos’ owners will also be allowed in, if they’re interested.

But one group absolutely will not.

“There are no cameras or any of that other stuff,” Payton said.


Henry was born in Columbia Falls, Montana and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2015. He earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Montana in 2019. After graduation, he joined DNVR. He spent three years covering the University of Colorado before moving to the Broncos beat ahead of the 2022 season. Henry joined DNVR as a remote staff writer in 2017, providing support to BSN's Broncos beat reporters. He interned at DNVR headquarters in the summer of 2018 and accepted a full-time position after graduating from UM. Follow Henry on Twitter - @HenryChisholm