Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Deepest positions matching team needs

Jan 28, 2021; Mobile, AL, USA; American’s defense lines up against American offensive lineman Jack Anderson of Texas Tech (56) at center and the American offense during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2021; Mobile, AL, USA; American’s defense lines up against American offensive lineman Jack Anderson of Texas Tech (56) at center and the American offense during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021 offseason will be a big one for the Denver Broncos as it marks the first of the George Paton era.

Paton is a rookie general manager in the NFL but hardly a rookie when it comes to the ins and outs of running a team, as he spent the last 14 years as the right-hand man to Rick Spielman with the Minnesota Vikings.

Paton emphasized in his introductory press conference the importance of building through the NFL Draft and developing those picks into second-contract players. Through the 2021 NFL Draft, his first as GM of the team, Paton will have a chance to address some critical areas for the roster not only just for 2021 but going forward.

Depending on what day of the week it is, these would be considered the biggest roster needs with the players who are currently under contract, in no particular order:

Denver Broncos top 2021 needs: Offense

  • Quarterback
  • Running Back
  • Right Tackle

Denver Broncos top 2021 needs: Defense

  • Edge defender
  • Linebacker
  • Cornerback
  • Safety
  • Defensive line

The Broncos will undoubtedly address some of these areas through free agency and possibly even trades, but when you look at the 2021 NFL Draft class, which position groups stand out with these needs in mind?

Right Tackle

The offensive line crop in the 2021 NFL Draft, in general, is very strong. There may not be such a tremendous group of top-end players as we saw in the 2020 NFL Draft (Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills) but there is a lot more depth and better value beyond those top 15 picks.

Northwestern’s Rashan Slater and Oregon’s Penei Sewell are generally considered the top tackle prospects in the class followed closely by USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield, Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, and Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins.

All of those players (except Leatherwood) made Daniel Jeremiah’s top 32 prospects.

Not all of those players would be worthy of the 9th overall pick, but a couple of them definitely would. If the Broncos are able to trade out of that 9th spot, the offensive tackle position could be an area the team addresses with Ja’Wuan James’ future in question.


This year’s linebacker class is a lot of fun.

Among Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects are Penn State’s Micah Parsons, Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Tulsa’s Zaven Collins, and Missouri’s Nick Bolton.

The Broncos have apparently been trying to find an off-ball linebacker with some serious speed to acquire in recent years (nearly drafted Devin Bush in 2019, nearly traded up for Patrick Queen in 2020) so would linebacker be out of the question in the first round?

Definitely not, but keep your eyes on the depth of this class because the Broncos could find gems beyond round one.

Alabama’s Dylan Moses, North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt, Ohio State’s Baron Browning and Pete Werner, Michigan’s Cameron McGrone, LSU’s Jabril Cox…This group of linebackers is deep, athletic, fast, and these guys have a ton of upside.

Defensive backs

The Denver Broncos’ defensive backfield is a unit in flux.

The cornerback position remains a bit of a mystery although the team will expect Bryce Callahan and Michael Ojemudia back as starters in 2021.

AJ Bouye is not expected back with the team at this point, Justin Simmons is slated for free agency, and Kareem Jackson’s age and cap number make him a possible cap casualty.

There are players all over this draft class at cornerback and safety who are worthy of investment as starter quality players, and I think there will be value every single round of this class to be found.

The Broncos are a popular destination for cornerbacks in 2021 NFL Draft predictions right now and rightly so. The cornerback group in the first round includes Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, and possibly UCF’s Aaron Robinson.

Other players who might go in the first round or just outside of it are the Georgia duo of Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II, Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr.

At safety, the versatility of guys like UCF’s Richie Grant, TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, Oregon’s Jevon Holland, Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen, and plenty of others will give the Broncos and head coach Vic Fangio plenty of options.

The other positions of need identified here — quarterback, running back, edge defender, defensive line — are all position groups with either solid players at the top end or a number of guys throughout the list of prospects who could be good values depending on which round they are acquired in.

With that said, those position groups don’t have quite the depth these three particular ones do, and the Broncos would be wise to adjust their offseason plans accordingly.