Broncos 7-round 2021 mock draft: Offensive tackle early?

Denver Broncos GM John Elway. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos GM John Elway. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 4
John Elway, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos GM John Elway. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Broncos 7-round 2021 mock draft: Offensive tackle on top?

The Denver Broncos are now 5-8 on the 2020 season after beating the Carolina Panthers on the road.

Drew Lock turned in a truly historic performance with four touchdown passes and over 300 yards through the air, earning the highest QB rating for any Broncos quarterback in a road start ever.

In what will be at the very least a weekly look at the 2021 NFL Draft for John Elway and the Denver Broncos, we’re going to look at an option that hasn’t been discussed a ton this year with Garett Bolles’ emergence at the left tackle position. What if the Broncos were to go tackle early on in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Here is a seven-round mock draft looking at that exact scenario.

The Broncos don’t need a tackle! Garett Bolles just got a contract extension and they are stuck with Ja’Wuan James for at least 2021!

These are both true and fair statements in opposition of a round one offensive tackle.

Despite one of the best classes in recent memory, I was pretty opposed to the Broncos going offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft with their needs at the skill positions and the fact that there was a chance Bolles could do what he has done this year.

This selection has nothing to do with Bolles and everything to do with Ja’Wuan James.

Even though James’ contract has tolled to 2021 (opt-out) and he will count $13 million against the 2021 salary cap with a whopping $19 million in dead money if the Broncos were to cut him. That is not happening.

James will be the penciled in starter at right tackle for 2021 unless he decides to retire from pro football or something like that.

With that said, the dead money count goes down to $6 million in 2022 when the Broncos will have a variety of contracts to work out. In that particular year, the Broncos will have to exercise Bradley Chubb’s fifth-year option (unless they extend him first) and they will have to deal with the rest of the 2018 draft class which includes wide receiver Courtland Sutton, linebacker Josey Jewell, linebacker Alexander Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, and others.

While the Broncos are effectively “stuck” with James in 2021, they could very well look to his 2022 replacement with their top selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and Christian Darrisaw would be as sensible of an option as anyone.

Can the Broncos count on James to play all 16 games even if he is bought in for the 2021 season? He has missed at least half the season in two of his first five NFL campaigns.

So what about Darrisaw?

Darrisaw was a Freshman All-American selection at Virginia Tech in 2018 and has been a stud ever since. In 2020, he has established himself as one of the most well-rounded tackle prospects in college football.

A mauler in the running game with tremendous strength and athleticism, Darrisaw would kick over to the right side for the Broncos and give them a starter for the future if the team doesn’t already think that way about Calvin Anderson.

Elijah Wilkinson and Demar Dotson are both free agents. The Broncos will need a hedge at offensive tackle but more than that, they likely need a long-term replacement for James given his contract situation after having it toll a full year.

Using a first-round selection on the tackle position is definitely on the table for this Broncos team, especially when you consider Mike Munchak is the guy in charge of developing these players.