The following is an excerpt from Warren Sharp’s 2024 Football Preview book. In addition to Warren’s deep, detailed write-up on all 32 NFL teams, each chapter features page after page of full-color charts, stats, and heatmaps as well as draft class analysis from Ryan McCrystal. Click here for a full FREE chapter from the 2024 Football Preview.

With 2024 NFL training camps on the horizon, we’re starting to understand how 2024 NFL draft classes will impact each roster this season.

Let’s look at the Denver Broncos, breaking down the most likely instant-impact rookies from each class, while also providing some insight into why certain early picks may not see the field.

Who are the Denver Broncos rookies?

  • Bo Nix — QB — Round 1
  • Jonah Elliss — EDGE — Round 3
  • Troy Franklin — WR — Round 4
  • Kris AbramsDraine — CB — Round 5
  • Audric Estime — RB — Round 5
  • Devaughn Vele — WR — Round 7
  • Nick Gargiulo — C — Round 7

Denver Broncos Draft Class Grade:

The Denver Broncos received a B draft grade from Sharp Football.

Which Broncos Rookies Will Make An Impact?

The selection of Bo Nix (first round) is a complicated evaluation. It certainly looks like a reach based on what we’ve seen from Nix in college. However, his traits appear to fit perfectly in Sean Payton’s offense. Based on what we saw from Payton’s offense in New Orleans, he probably wants a quarterback who gets the ball out quickly. That’s likely why he wanted to move on from Russell Wilson, who held the ball for at least four seconds on 24% of his dropbacks last year. Nix developed into one of the best quick decision-makers in college football during his two years at Oregon with an average dropback of 2.4 seconds. 

Jonah Elliss (third round) fills a position of need on the edge but is more of a developmental prospect having just turned 21 in April. Elliss demonstrated some pass-rush potential at Utah, generating a 13.9% pressure rate on the edge, ranked ninth in the Pac-12. However, he struggled at times against the run and likely lacks the strength to be a three-down defender as a rookie. 

Troy Franklin (fourth round) was not expected to be available on Day 3, and Denver had to be thrilled to have the opportunity to pair him with Nix, his college quarterback. Though Oregon ran a conservative passing attack 一 60% of Nix’s passes traveled five or fewer yards downfield 一 Franklin was Nix’s favorite downfield target. Franklin accounted for 44% of the Ducks’ targets at 15 or more yards downfield with a strong 78% catch rate on catchable targets at that distance (Power Five average: 71%).

Kris Abrams-Draine (fifth round) has the potential to be a Day 3 steal if he can overcome below-average measurables, which led to his fall in the draft despite top-tier production. Based on route-adjusted metrics over the last two seasons, Abrams-Draine allowed a catch rate 27% below expected and generated a ball-hawk rate 54% above expected. His anticipation skills are as good as it gets at the college level, an especially impressive statement for someone who started his college career at receiver. 

Audric Estime (fifth round) is a physical downhill runner who likely reminds Payton of Mark Ingram. Like Ingram, Estime has below-average athletic traits and won’t run away from anyone, but he wins with his vision between the tackles and is surprisingly effective as a receiver. Unfortunately for Estime, Javonte Williams is already on the roster and shares many of those traits. So does veteran backup Samaje Perine. There’s plenty of competition for touches, but Estime definitely has the tools to fit into Payton’s offense. 

When accounting for defenders in the box and the inside/outside direction of the run, Estime gained 38% more yards than expected last year. That success should carry over to the NFL, at least as an early-down back, if he gets an opportunity. 

Devaughn Vele (seventh round) is big and fast but will turn 27 during his rookie year and never made a substantial impact at Utah despite being a grown man often going up against teenagers. Vele’s skill set is similar to Tim Patrick’s, so Denver could view him as insurance behind Patrick, who has missed the last two seasons due to injuries. 

Nick Gargiulo (seventh round) brings versatility to the table and can likely earn a roster spot due to his starting experience at tackle, guard, and center over the course of his career at Yale and South Carolina. 

Denver probably should have traded back before drafting Nix, as there was a very small list of teams potentially interested in a first-round quarterback once the first five signal-callers were off the board. That said, if you heard Denver came away with Nix, Franklin, and Elliss without knowing how the draft played out, you would likely assume they traded down, selected Nix, and landed Franklin with an extra Day 2 pick they acquired in the trade before drafting Elliss in the third round. So while it wasn’t the cleanest process, Denver came away with a decent class and a quarterback who suits Payton’s system well. 

This analysis continues in the 2024 Football Preview

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Draft Class Analysis for All 32 Teams
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