ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos began their busy third and final day of the NFL Draft by selecting Pitt cornerback Damarri Mathis and Iowa State defensive tackle Eyioma Uwazurike with their No. 115 and 116 picks in the fourth round Saturday.
Mathis, 23, was a five-year senior at Pitt. He didn't have much interaction with the Broncos compared to some other teams so he was a bit surprised by the phone call Saturday from the 303 area code.
“Well, I had a Zoom through this process,'' Mathis said in his conference call Saturday with the Denver media. "I had a really good Zoom with them leading up to the draft. I just got that call out of nowhere. It kind of scared me a little bit. I was excited. I already knew what team it was, and I'm just excited, ready to get there and work and just compete.”
What he does he know about the Broncos?
"I know about Russell Wilson, obviously,'' Mathis said. "I know about Pat Surtain from the area. I grew up in Florida, he's more south. I know some players on the team and I just know it's a good program, good defense and a good situation that I'm glad to be a part of."
He played as a true freshman in 2017 but missed what would have been his true senior season in 2020 because of an offseason labrum injury suffered during a boxing workout.
"My shoulder was already kind of messed up from the season before and ... I just hooked my mitt and threw out my shoulder,'' Mathis said.
He received a medical redshirt and rebounded to start all 13 games for Pitt in 2021. The 5-11, 195-pound outside corner had a 35-yard pick-six vs. New Hampshire.
"Just coming back and playing at a high level felt really good getting back out there,'' Mathis said. "I had like no problems or anything with my injury."
With the next pick -- which the Broncos received from Seattle along with a quarterback named Russell Wilson -- Denver took the 6-foot-6, 316-pound Uwazurike. He was first-team All-Big 12 in 2021. Despite his massive size, Uwazurike played some edge for the Cyclones and had 9.0 sacks last year.
"I'm comfortable being moved around the D-line,'' Uwazurike said in his conference call with the Denver media. "I've played all positions along the D-line so it's like all second nature to me at this point."
He was another fourth-round player who was surprised by the team that picked him.
"I didn’t know that I was on their list at all," Uwazurike said. "It was definitely shocking to see. I knew a few teams that were interested, but when I got that phone call from Denver, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at."
In the fifth round, the Broncos took another Oklahoma product in safety Delarrin Turner-Yell followed by one of their more exciting picks in Samford returner Montrell Washington. Also a receiver who had 61 catches for 855 yards and 9 touchdowns last season, Washington should instantly become the Broncos' returner. He had three touchdown returns last season -- two off punts, the other on a 98-yard kickoff.
"I watch all of the old Devin Hester returns,'' Washington said, referring to the former Bear and arguably the best returner ever. "Punt returns, kick returns—everything Devin Hester I watch for sure. Of course, Tyreek [Hill], guys like that."
Turner-Yell was the third consecutive safety the Broncos had taken in the fifth round as last year they took Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson. The Broncos then traded up eight spots in the fifth round -- from 179 to Green Bay's 171 spot -- and took Washington center Luke Wattenberg.
A sixth year senior, Wattenberg was primarily a guard who returned for his sixth college year to play center, where he started all 12 games.
Wisconsin defensive tackle Matt Henningsen was the pick in the sixth round, No. 206 overall. At 6-foot-3, 289 pounds, he'll be a defensive end in the Broncos' 3-4 front. He graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average and a degree in electrical engineering.
With their final pick, the Broncos decided to stay in Madison, Wis. and took Badgers cornerback Faoin Hicks. He's 5-10, 192 pounds and played in 39 games over four years at Wisconsin.
Thus the Broncos' 2022 draft:
- No. 64, 2nd round: Nick Bonitto, OLB, Oklahoma
- No. 80, 3rd round: Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
- No. 115, 4th round: Damarri Mathis, CB, Pitt
- No. 116, 4th round: Eyioma Uwazurike, DL, Iowa State
- No. 152, 5th round: Delarrin Turner-Yell, safety, Oklahoma
- No. 162, 5th round: Montrell Washington, returner, Samford
- No. 171, 5th round: Luke Wattenberg, center, Washington
- No. 206, 6th: Matt Henningsen, defensive lineman, Wisconsin
- No. 232, 7th: Faion Hicks, cornerback, Wisconsin
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