The Denver Broncos finished with an 8-9 record last season, their seventh straight losing mark since 2015’s 12-4 season. The Broncos won the Super Bowl that season with a 24-10 victory over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Now, Coach Sean Payton needs a successful draft to replenish the Broncos’ roster in pursuit of the franchise’s first playoff appearance since that fateful season.

Recently, the popular National Football League scouting website Pro Football Focus decided to release its newest mock draft, and PFF has Coach Payton’s team selecting the nation’s top EDGE rusher, statistically speaking, out of the Pac-12 Conference instead of a well known quarterback like Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy as had been previously speculated.

Broncos Projected to Select UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu 

 

The Broncos have the 12th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25 in Detroit and are projected to take a quarterback at most sportsbooks. According to PFF, Broncos’ strategy may be shifting toward a defender instead, especially since McCarthy and other top quarterback prospects could be off the board in the first five to ten picks.

“It would make sense for them to address the EDGE defender position, where the Broncos could use reinforcements,” PFF scribe Arjun Menon stated as part of the website’s latest list of draft projections.

Football is a complex game with the offensive, special teams and defense all affecting each other in myriad ways, but there’s no denying that Denver needs immediate help on defense, as evidenced by the 2023 season’s team defensive statistics.

Coach Payton’s Broncos finished 29th in the league in total defense, giving up 370.8 yards, three spots ahead than the Seahawks, Bengals and Commanders.

Laiatu’s NCAA Best 2023 Season

 

Latu finished first in four key NCAA football categories among his EDGE counterparts last season, including sacks, pass rush win rate, pass rush grade and PFF grade. He also finished second in the country in sacks recorded according to a post shared by Pro Football Focus on X on Monday.

Latu’s 2023 Stats and Successes

 

Latu finished last season with 49 total tackles including 28 solo, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions, showcasing his versatility whether defending the run, rushing the passer or dropping into coverage, a unique skill that may remind some of Detroit Lions star Aidan Hutchinson, who reached his first Pro Bowl in 2024 with Coach Dan Campbell’s team.

Other Possibilities for Broncos’ 12th Pick in 2024 NFL Draft

 

The Broncos fan site PreDominantlyOrange.com shared a mock draft roundup recently with projected 12th pick selections.

Writer Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has the Broncos selecting two-time national champion Brock Bowers of Georgia in the first round. Colleague Chad Reuter lists Oregon quarterback Bo Nix as the Broncos’ likely selection.

Bucky Brooks has the Broncos selecting Jared Verse out of Florida State University, an EDGE rusher with great physical tools who could surpass Latu for the Broncos’ first round selection. Charles Davis has Payton’s team selecting Quinyon Mitchell, a cornerback out of Toledo, while Eric Edholm lists Nix as the Broncos’ likely pick at slot number 12.