Broncos Sign Third-Round LB Drew Sanders, Wrap Draft Class Deals

The Broncos did not have many draft choices this year, but they will have all their picks under contract before OTAs begin. Third-round linebacker Drew Sanders agreed to terms on his rookie deal Wednesday, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

After Denver traded into the back of the second round for Oklahoma wideout Marvin Mims, the team stuck with its No. 67 draft slot — obtained in a 2022 deal with the Colts, who traded up for safety Nick Crossto select Sanders. The Arkansas prospect will be tied to a four-year deal worth approximately $5.7MM.

Sanders transferred from Alabama to Arkansas in 2022 and came through with strong sack production — especially for an off-ball linebacker. The 6-foot-4 defender totaled 9.5 sacks as a junior last year, pairing that eye-catching number with 103 tackles. Sanders skipped the Razorbacks’ Liberty Bowl game to prepare for the draft and will be expected to carve out a key role on Sean Payton‘s first Broncos team.

After cutting ties with Super Bowl 50 ILB starter Brandon Marshall in 2019, the Broncos have not devoted much in the way of resources to the off-ball linebacker spots. They do have both their starters from last season — Josey Jewell, Alex Singleton — attached to similar contracts. Tied to a two-year, $11MM pact, Jewell — a former fourth-round pick — is going into a walk year. The Broncos re-signed Singleton (three years, $18MM), but the former UDFA is heading into his age-30 season.

The Broncos have not made a notable edge defender investment this offseason; the team released 2022 trade acquisition Jacob Martin last week. Randy Gregory, Baron Browning and 2022 second-rounder Nik Bonitto remain in place as Denver’s top OLBs. With Gregory missing much of last season, the Broncos may be in the market for one of the many veteran edge defenders still available. The team’s situation also opens up a potential hybrid role for Sanders, who forced three fumbles last year.

Here is how the Broncos’ draft class turned out:

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