Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft update after Chargers loss

Denver Broncos, Drew Lock, 2021 NFL Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, Drew Lock, 2021 NFL Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft update after Chargers loss.

The Denver Broncos dropped their 10th game of the 2020 season, a brutal close loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Broncos will be kicking themselves over some big plays they could have had against the Chargers, plays that ultimately wound up being the difference between winning and losing.

That has really been the story of 2020, hasn’t it?

When Vic Fangio was hired as the Broncos’ head coach, he instilled the phrase “death by inches” in Broncos Country, and that was music to everyone’s ears. After the Vance Joseph era, having a head coach focused on fundamentals and clean football sounded perfect on paper.

Unfortunately, with a young team, there is a “death by inches” that is often impossible to avoid. When you suffer as many key injuries as the Broncos have? It’s even harder to not have small mistakes all throughout a game.

Call it death by inches or death by a thousand paper cuts — call it what you want — but the Denver Broncos are 5-10 with one game remaining in the 2020 season. For everyone who has had one eye on the 2021 NFL Draft already, the loss is bittersweet. Not many fans (you can’t say no fans these days) actually root for the Broncos to lose games, but when the losses are in the past and old news, having a high draft pick in every round is certainly nice.

After their loss to the Chargers, the Broncos are slated to pick 10th in the 2021 NFL Draft.

What does that mean with one week left to play?

Well, with only one game left to play in the 2020 season, there is very little separation in terms of record between the Denver Broncos and a number of other teams with four or six wins.

Among the top 10 teams (including the Broncos), eight have four or five wins. There are another five teams with six wins (the Patriots have not yet played their week 16 matchup). If the Broncos were to win in week 17 against the Raiders and every other team jockeying for draft position were to lose, the Broncos would finish no worse than 15th in the draft order, the same pick they had in 2020.

If the Broncos were to lose against the Raiders, they could wind up with any pick after number four overall, provided teams ahead of them win games. If every team ahead of the Broncos from 4-9 wins in week 17 and the Broncos lose, the Broncos would own the 5th overall pick just by winning percentage alone.

Where it gets a little sticky is in terms of strength of schedule. The Broncos’ opponent win percentage is .570 which isn’t likely to change dramatically enough between now and the end of week 17 to give them advantages over literally any other team ahead of them they could pass.

For instance, if the Broncos would finish with the same record as the Detroit Lions at 5-11, the Lions’ opponent win percentage is .502, which would give them an easy advantage over the Broncos.

The next closest to the Broncos’ .570 is the Carolina Panthers at .527. And no, the Broncos’ head-to-head win against the Panthers wouldn’t matter in draft standing as it would in the playoffs.

That’s why if the Broncos do end up losing next week, everyone in Broncos Country should be hoping for wins for the Texans, Falcons, Bengals, Lions, Giants, and Panthers, along with every other team behind Denver.

If all of those teams win, the Broncos will be picking fifth overall for the second time in four years (2018, Bradley Chubb). It wouldn’t be great from a fan perspective to lose 11 games, but the consolation prize is not terrible at all.