The latest episode of “Behind the Broncos” is here, and if you’re interested in what the draft looks like from inside an NFL team’s war room, you won’t want to miss it.
In this episode, we get a never-before-seen look into the Broncos’ draft process, from meeting with prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine to the predraft meetings and on through the second day of the draft as Denver selected outside linebacker Nik Bonitto and tight end Greg Dulcich.
We’ve listed a few of our favorite moments below, but there were even more great ones that we didn’t include, so make sure to check out the whole show.
HOW BONITTO WAS BROUGHT TO DENVER
After a quiet Day 1 of the draft — “Well, that was boring,” General Manager George Paton said — he and the Broncos got into the mix when the second day began, and as the picks ahead of them began to unfold, it became clear that Bonitto would be the pick at No. 64.
After making the pick, Paton admitted he thought they’d have to trade up to secure him, and Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said, “I thought there was no chance.”
As Paton later said, “Nik Bonitto at 64 — holy **.”
But the scouting process of course started well before, and we get a glimpse of that going back to the Scouting Combine, when they met with Bonitto during one of the team’s formal interviews in Indianapolis. As part of that visit, Hackett prompted Bonitto with a word-association game, asking Bonitto to share the first word that came to mind for the following: football, contact and NFL.
The answers were quick: Love. Love. Dream.
‘ARE YOU GOING TO START SINGING THE FIGHT SONG?’
After deciding to trade down with the Texans from No. 75, the Broncos made their second pick at No. 80. It must have been surprising to Paton that Dulcich, the UCLA tight end, was even available, they thought that highly of him. And as Paton prepared to make the decision to bring Dulcich to Denver, Hackett ribbed Paton about picking a player from his alma mater.
“Are you going to start singing the [UCLA] fight song?” Hackett joked.
In the team’s meetings in the days before the draft, Paton & Co. had identified Dulcich as a target, particularly because of valuable he could be for quarterback Russell Wilson.
“The good thing about this is for a quarterback it is a security blanket if you have a guy that you can get the ball to in the intermediate [zone] — 5 to 10 yard gains,” Hackett said. “We could be very creative with those guys.”
The day after being drafted, Bonitto and Dulcich arrived in Denver to meet with their new coaches, speak to the media and tour UCHealth Training Center. Another reason, though, may have been just so Hackett could get an in-person look at Dulcich’s hair.
“Oh my god, look at that hair! Oh my god, it’s so beautiful!” Hackett said. “One of the primary reasons you’re here right now is that. That is absolutely gorgeous, man.”
Just one day into his new NFL career, Dulcich said his mindset would be just like when he joined the UCLA football team as a walk-on.
“To get the opportunity to move on and move to a new chapter and to do it here in Denver is special,” Dulcich said. “I’m just going to carry myself with the same attitude I did as a walk-on at UCLA. That’s what made me successful, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Bonitto, who said he’d been welcomed to Denver with calls from Wilson, Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory and more of his new teammates, committed himself to a similar mindset.
“I want to be accountable to the guys that are with me on the D-line, on the defense, the coaching staff and guys upstairs,” Bonitto said. “Just making sure that I’m a guy that everybody enjoys having around, that everybody respects and loves and happy to have in this organization.”