One of Deion Sanders’ ex-players is among Broncos’ undrafted rookies

May 1, 2023, 3:14 AM

Dismiss the undrafted Broncos additions at your peril. After all, at least one of them is likely to end up on the 53-player roster. And others should land on the practice squad, from which some will leap to the active roster and get playing time.

The Broncos have an intriguing crop, including players like Houston CB Art Green, Princeton OL Henry Byrd and Central Michigan edge rusher Thomas Incoom, all of whom could have easily been drafted.

TE Nate Adkins, South Carolina

He played one season in the SEC after transferring from East Tennessee State. The 6-foot-3, 252-pounder had 86 career receptions for 917 yards and 4 touchdowns over five seasons and 56 games played. Adkins was clocked at 4.85 seconds for the 40-yard dash. (Reported by Draft Countdown.)

LB Seth Benson, Iowa

A second-team All-Big Ten selection last year and a three-year starter, Benson is stout inside the box and could factor on special teams. He did his best work against the run, including 10 tackles for losses over the last two years. (Reported by The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.)

OL Henry Byrd, Princeton

A two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection, Byrd honed his footwork with dancing, taking three separate dance courses in high school. Byrd added 60 pounds to his frame at Princeton, and by his Pro Day carried 310 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame. He started the last three seasons at left tackle, but could project to an interior role in the pros, even though his 33-5/8-inch arms would be sufficient for NFL consideration at tackle. (Reported by Princeton’s official athletics website.)

WR Dallas Daniels, Jackson State

A graduate transfer from Western Illinois who joined Deion Sanders’ Jackson State program last year, Daniels logged 692 yards on 63 receptions last year for the Tigers. (Reported by Jackson State athletics.)

OL Warren Ericson, Georgia

Ericson received an invitation to Broncos rookie minicamp, his agent told the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald Ericson was the Bulldogs’ starting right guard for 14 games in 2021 before having a swing interior role last season. (Reported by the Athens Banner-Herald.)

CB Darrious Gaines, Western Colorado

A six-season player at Western Colorado, the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Gaines worked out at CU’s pro day in March and clocked a 4.57-second 40-yard dash time. His work in the RMAC earned him an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

CB Art Green, Houston

It’s all about traits for Green, who visited the Broncos during the pre-draft process. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder ran a blistering 40-yard dash time of 4.36 seconds at his pro day. His length and speed could be his ticket to a roster spot. Green allowed opposing QBs to compile an 85.2 rating (NFL scale) on 105 passes thrown in his direction over the last three years, per the data compiled by Pro Football Focus.(Reported by NFL Network.)

WR Taylor Grimes, Incarnate Word

A highly productive receiver for the FCS Cardinals, Grimes had back-to-back seasons of 80-plus receptions, 1100-plus yards and 15-plus touchdowns in 2021 and 2022. The 5-foot-10, 186-pounder was clocked at 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Grimes transferred to Incarnate Word from Illinois State, where he didn’t break through in three seasons before moving on. (Reported by the San Antonio Expreess-News.)

Edge rusher Marcus Haynes, Old Dominion

After starting nine games in the 2020 and 2021 seasons combined, Haynes started all 12 games for the Monarchs last season, recording one pressure every 9.1 pass-rush snaps, per the data compiled by Pro Football Focus. (Reported by The Draft Network.)

Edge rusher Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan

A six-year college player, Incoom transferred to CMU from Division II Valdosta State in time for the 2021 season. A native of Ghana, he converted from tight end to defensive end as a freshman. A high-effort player who is quick off the snap, Incoom is persistent and find ways to make plays in the backfield. He was also remarkably consistent last year; he had at least one sack in 10 of 12 games, finishing the year with 11.5 sacks. (Reported by

OL Demontrey Jacobs, South Florida

Jacobs swung between the left and right tackle spots for USF. He transferred there in 2020 after three years at Grambling, where he converted from defensive line to offensive tackle. The 312-pounder has impressive length; he has 36-inch arms and an 87 3/8-inch wingspan on a 6-foot-7 frame. Jacobs also plays a clean brand of football, omitting just two penalties in 24 games played over the last two seasons. (Reported by USF’s official athletics website.)

TE Kris Leach, Kent State

The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder distinguished himself as a blocker after transferring from Western Kentucky. Leach’s pass-catching chances were infrequent; in 28 games over three seasons for the Golden Flashes, he had 16 receptions. (Posted by his agent.)

S Devon Matthews, Indiana

Nicknamed “Monster,” the five-year player fits the high-character mold the Broncos followed during the draft. During the COVID-19-altered 2020 season, the team honored him with its Ted Verlihay Award, given to players who demonstrate strong mental attitude and perseverance. Matthews was clocked as having 4.53 speed.

RB Jaleel McLaughlin, Youngstown State

The NCAA’s all-division rushing leader with 8,166 yards — a tally that includes his2018 and 2019 seasons at Division II Notre Dame College in Cleveland — the 5-foot-9, 183-pound back should get a long look. He’s also a strong pass-catcher and won’t shy away from blocking responsibilities. McLaughlin has 4.44 speed, and if he can make it translate, he has a chance to factor into the Broncos’ long-term plans at running back. Keep a close eye on him. (Reported by WKBN-Ch. 27 in Youngstown, Ohio.)

DL P.J. Mustipher, Penn State

A two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection and team captain in 2021 and 2022, the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Mustipher earned a Shrine Bowl invitation after his senior season. He likely won’t be a huge factor as a pass rusher — he had 3 career sacks at Penn State — but he can occupy blockers and occasionally burst into the backfield. He should project as a 3-4 nose tackle. (Reported by WHTM-Ch. 27 in Harrisburg, Pa.)

OL Alex Palczewski, Illinois

He’s the answer to a trivia question, as he is the co-record holder for starts at the FBS level — 65 over a six-year college career. The 314-pounder played right tackle and both guard spots at Illinois. With 33 5/8-inch arms, he projects as a tackle. He’s quick, but he’ll need to get stronger to flourish. (First reported by Illini Inquirer.)

RB Emanuel Wilson, Fort Valley State

Another exciting lower-level RB prospect, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Wilson has a nice blend of power and persistence. He’ll break tackles well, and he was also an effective pass catcher, grabbing 20 passes last season. And he’ll block when asked. (Reported by Light on College Sports.)


NFL Draft 2023

Sean Payton...

Cecil Lammey

The Broncos draft proved that Payton and Paton can work well together

The contrasting styles of Denver's head coach and general manager allowed the team to move up and down the draft board over the weekend

12 months ago

Alex Forsyth...

Andrew Mason

The Broncos’ Day 3 picks have echoes in the team’s recent draft past

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With just two Day 3 picks — neither of which came before the sixth round — the Broncos lacked the capital to have much flexibility. That they came out of the day with a potential immediate starter at tight end was a mild upset — and helped buoy their spirits. But at […]

12 months ago

Alex Forsyth...

James Merilatt

Broncos add a center with their seventh-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

Denver added some depth to their interior offensive line with their final pick on Saturday, bringing in competition for Lloyd Cushenberry

12 months ago

Adam Trautman...

Andrew Mason

Another Sean Payton reunion as Broncos trade for ex-Saints tight end

Sean Payton likes his ex-Saints. During the final day of the 2023 draft, he added another one to the Broncos' roster.

12 months ago

j.l. skinner...

James Merilatt

Broncos add a Bronco with their sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft

Denver looked toward Boise State with their first selection of day three, adding more depth to their defensive backfield with J.L Skinner

12 months ago

Drew Sanders...

Andrew Mason

‘What’s our vision?’ Payton outlines plan for third-rounders Sanders, Moss

The exact role for the Broncos' two third-round picks didn't seem easy to define for those observing the draft from the outside.

12 months ago

One of Deion Sanders’ ex-players is among Broncos’ undrafted rookies