Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Daviyon Nixon a fit in Vic Fangio’s defense

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Daviyon Nixon. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Daviyon Nixon. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos are under new management with George Paton taking over John Elway’s role with the team as general manager.

Over the course of the last 10 years, Broncos Country had the opportunity to read the tendencies of John Elway in the offseason and the way he liked to operate through free agency and the NFL Draft.

Under George Paton, no one really knows what to expect, but he has provided some clues and there is history with him in Minnesota working side-by-side with Rick Spielman as well. With that said, nobody knows what Paton’s views of the Denver Broncos’ roster will wind up being and which areas he might choose to address early on.

From some of his comments to the media, we do know that Paton likes the strategy and philosophy of assembling as many “darts” as you possibly can in the NFL Draft in order to increase your odds of getting a bullseye. He also stated the importance of building through the trenches, specifically on the offensive and defensive lines.

"And then I think you said offense and defensive lines, I just think that’s the core of the team. I think you’re going to be in every game if you have a really strong defensive line and a really strong offensive line.Broncos GM George Paton via team PR"

Denver Broncos projected defensive line for 2021

Players under contract

  • Jurrell Casey (12th season)
  • Dre’Mont Jones (3rd season)
  • Mike Purcell (6th season)
  • McTelvin Agim (2nd season)
  • DeShawn Williams (3rd season)
  • Kyle Peko
  • Joel Heath

Pending free agents

  • Shelby Harris (UFA)
  • DeMarcus Walker (UFA)
  • Sylvester Williams (UFA)
  • Jonathan Harris (ERFA)

Looking strictly at the 2021 season, if nothing changed with the players who are under contract and those who are free agents currently, the Broncos would certainly have to add something to that group, whether it was through the NFL Draft, free agency, or a combination of the two.

One player who could really make a lot of sense given the team’s current situation with two prominent veterans (Casey, Purcell) coming off of injured reserve is Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon.

Nixon was a first-team All-American pick after his dominant 2020 campaign for the Hawkeyes where he racked up 45 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He also had an incredibly impressive pick-six against Penn State, rumbling 71 yards down the field with his 300-plus pound frame.

Nixon’s role with the Hawkeyes grew steadily over the 2019 and 2020 seasons until he truly became a force for the team in 2020 playing multiple roles on the defensive front.

That kind of versatility is something that could endear him to Vic Fangio and the defensive coaching staff in Denver.

Fangio requires his defensive linemen to be able to wear multiple hats, and frankly his defense is predicated on a limited number of rushers getting home quickly to benefit the coverage. There are not many players in this draft on the interior defensive line who can get into the backfield with the regularity of Nixon.

We’ve already seen the Broncos’ scouting department and coaching staff take a particular liking to Iowa Hawkeyes players in recent years with linebacker Josey Jewell coming in through the 2018 NFL Draft, Noah Fant coming in atop the 2019 class, and then cornerback Michael Ojemudia in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

How about four years in a row?

Nixon is not getting talked about a ton right now because most mock draft “machines” don’t have him ranked inside the top 32 players. That doesn’t mean NFL front offices don’t like him there.

Nixon has a special combination of size, athleticism, and instincts. Adding in his versatility on top of that, and the fact that the Broncos could add him to a group whose cornerstone pieces for the immediate and long-term future are guys like Dre’Mont Jones and McTelvin Agim, and he could be a tremendous fit for the Broncos.

The question right now is where?

Nixon may not be the kind of talent that goes inside the top 10 selections, but he’s certainly worth a look in the top 32, probably even the top 25.

The Broncos could look into trading down from their 9th overall pick to stockpile capital and still add a talent like Nixon to the defensive front.

If building the offensive and defensive lines is truly of paramount importance to George Paton, this isn’t the most top-heavy class on the defensive line but Nixon has the potential to be a really special player at the next level.