Denver Broncos: 5 2021 NFL Draft needs and players to watch for

2021 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos, Caleb Farley Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
2021 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos, Caleb Farley Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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Daviyon Nixon, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Daviyon Nixon. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Defensive Line

The Denver Broncos could take a major hit on the defensive line this offseason. With Jurrell Casey, Shelby Harris, and DeMarcus Walker all headed for free agency, the Broncos will likely have to look elsewhere to replenish their defensive line.

Of the three, Casey may be the most likely to find a new home in free agency. The veteran defensive lineman suffered a biceps injury early in the season and only played 156 snaps this season, per Pro Football Reference.

Harris may find himself in a similar situation to last year’s free agency, where he held out in hopes of a bigger contract on the open market. Ultimately, Harris returned to the Denver Broncos on a one year deal, but back to back years of strong play may push Harris out of the Broncos’ price range.

Without their free agents, the Broncos’ depth takes a massive hit on the defensive line. Mike Purcell, Dre’Mont Jones, and DeShawn Williams would likely return as starters, but the Broncos’ have little to no depth behind the three incumbent players.

I expect DeMarcus Walker to return to the team on a reasonable contract, and I think John Elway will make a strong push for either Harris or Casey. If the Denver Broncos fail to retain either one, they will have plenty of work to do in the draft.

The defensive line is one of the weaker aspects of the 2021 draft, but there are strong depth pieces available on Day 2. Here are some options the Denver Broncos could look at in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft.

"Christian Barmore– #71 overall player per TDN, “He has the versatility to play 1 or 3-technique in an even front, but he’s spent most of his time as a base 4i/4-technique in Alabama’s odd front. This is a prospect that’s only scratching the surface of what he could become and with an expanded role in 2020, it shouldn’t be surprising to see him skyrocket up draft boards.” Marvin Wilson-#57 overall player per TDN, “Highly-touted recruit with appealing physical tools. Thick, wide and muscular frame that leaves no doubt he was built to play at the next level in the trenches.” Haskell Garrett-#95 overall player per TDN, “In the run game, he has very good inline strength. Garrett also showcases strength in his hands to disengage and get to the football, helping him to filter through blocks. In the passing game, he demonstrates good power and inside hand placement as a bull rusher.”"