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Getty Images Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett addresses the media in 2022.

The Denver Broncos are without a first and second-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft due to the trade for Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson. That still doesn’t mean the team can’t find value in the ensuing rounds.

Pro Football Focus’s Mike Renner wrote a list of 2023 NFL Draft prospects that each NFL team should be monitoring.

He mentioned how the Broncos won’t be able to get a high-end talent with their first pick being a third-round pick.

However, Renner believes N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson is a perfect match for the Broncos.

“With Payton Wilson’s extensive injury history, his draft stock can only go so high, which means he’ll firmly be in the Broncos’ range. With linebacker arguably the weakest position group for the team on paper, Wilson could come in and start right away. He’s a big, physical presence at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds and allowed only 21 catches from 32 targets for 160 yards in his last full season.”

The linebacker position has been regarded as a weakness for the Broncos.

Specifically, the inside linebacker position has its flaws. The Broncos signed Alex Singleton, who led the Philadelphia Eagles in combined tackles in both 2020 (120) and 2021 (137). Yet, Singleton’s Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 40.9 doesn’t bode well. Denver re-signed Josey Jewell to a two-year, $11 million contract and while he had 113 tackles in 2020, he suffered a season-ending injury last season in Week 2.

PFF colleague and analyst Ben Linsey wrote an article on ESPN and ranked all 32 NFL teams. He ranked the Broncos as the 14th-best in the league, citing linebacker as the Broncos’ “biggest weakness”.

“Linebacker was one of the more common connections for the Broncos in the 2022 NFL draft, but they didn’t end up prioritizing the position,” Linsey wrote. “That leaves Josey Jewell and either Jonas Griffith or Alex Singleton as the projected starting tandem with little in the way of depth behind them, particularly with Baron Browning expecting to transition to an on-ball outside linebacker role. Teams could look to exploit Singleton in coverage over the middle of the field after he earned just a 39.3 coverage grade with the Eagles in 2021.”

Wilson’s Profile

N.C. State finished the 2021 season with a 9-3 record and also had to deal with numerous injuries to their defense, which included Wilson’s season-ending shoulder injury.

Wilson was supposed to be one of the 2021 season’s breakout performers, but he got hurt and only played in two games. In 2020, he had 110 combined tackles along with 11.5 tackles for loss and three-and-a-half sacks.

David Hale of ESPN ranked the Pack’s linebackers as the No. 1 linebacker group in the ACC and Wilson’s past play is a reason why. He was a first-team All-ACC performer in 2020 on both the AP and the official league teams. He also lead all ACC players in pressure rate with a 17.6% mark (among players with at least 75 pass-rush snaps in 2020).

The 22-year-old could make an even bigger name for himself in 2022 and could easily be drafted earlier than the third round. That would take the Broncos out of the running, especially with the team having just five draft packs in 2023.

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Warriors Star Draymond Green Responds to Ja Morant Callout

Getty Images Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.

Christmas came a bit early for Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

Morant and Green have been going back and forth on social media this offseason, stoking the fire of the growing rivalry between the defending champs and Western Conference up-and-comer. The squads will get to face off in a showcase spot on Christmas day, per long-time NBA insider Marc Stein.

“Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week,” Stein reported on August 13.

The game is a rematch of the Western Conference Semifinals between the teams, which the Warriors won in six games en route to the title. Morant was quick to respond to the news, tagging Green and writing, “We got what we wanted Dray.”

we got what we wanted dray. ???? @Money23Green

— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) August 13, 2022

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While their rivalry has been spicy at times, Green actually had some friendly words for Morant amid the news.

“That’s the power of your voice young! Let’s goooo!” Green tweeted in response. “Bring the fam to the crib for dinner after.”

Rivalry Between Warriors, Grizzlies Still Heated

While Green and Morant exchanged some nice words, it’s clear the rivalry on the court is still something that could get contentious, judging by comments made by both sides after the Warriors won the title. Golden State guard Klay Thompson made it a point to call out some comments from Grizzlies big man, Jaren Jackson.

“Strength in numbers is alive and well,” Thompson told reporters after the win. “There was this one player on the Grizzlies who tweeted ‘Strength in numbers’ after they beat us in the regular season, and it pissed me off so much. I can’t wait to retweet that thing. Freakin’ bum. I had to watch that. I’m like, ‘This freakin’ clown.’

“Sorry, that memory just popped up. Gonna mock us? You ain’t ever been there before. We’ve been there before, we know what it takes. So to be here again, hold that.”

Morant responded on Twitter, saying that the Grizzlies “got a lot of real estate,” in the Warriors heads. Green didn’t take too kindly to that.

“We traded that real estate in [Ja Morant],” Green tweeted. “The property value was higher in Boston.”

The exchange led to Morant voicing his plan to play the Warriors on Christmas Day, which has now seemingly come to fruition unless the league decides to change things up before the official schedule release.

Warriors Get Lakers for Opening Night

The news also came down that the Warriors would open their title defense against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Golden State won that matchup 121-114 and the teams went in very different directions the rest of the year.

The Warriors 53-29 record and won their fourth title in eight years. James and Co. stumbled through an injury-riddled season, missing the postseason.

That being said, a LeBron James-led team can never be doubted, despite “The King” turning 38 next season. The Lakers are still in the top six teams in terms of title odds, coming in at +950, per Ceasars Sportsbook. The Warriors (+550) are No. 2 behind only the Boston Celtics (+450).

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