Broncos: 2021 NFL Draft prospects who could replace free agents

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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Denver Broncos, Caleb Farley
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Caleb Farley. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos head into the 2021 NFL Draft and 2021 free agency period with plenty of needs and question marks on the roster, but also a “sleeping giant” of talent for new GM George Paton to work with.

Offensively, the Broncos have a very intriguing core of players in place but defensively, there will be some 2020 starters who need to be replaced for the short and long term.

The Broncos’ list of unrestricted free agents in 2021 is not all that extensive, but they will have to replace key players both in their starting lineup and on their primary backup units.

Although it’s expected that Justin Simmons will either be re-signed or franchise-tagged for a second consecutive season, how might the Broncos use the 2021 NFL Draft to supplement other in-house free agent losses?

The Broncos are fortunate that this year’s draft class is pretty excellent at their primary positions of need. Let’s take a look at some prospects that could wind up replacing key contributors from the 2020 roster now and into the future.

1. Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II for AJ Bouye

The Broncos made a trade in the 2020 offseason to acquire Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback AJ Bouye. Bouye had played at a Pro Bowl level with the Jaguars but he’s been dinged with injuries.

Unfortunately, those injury woes continued in Denver, and not only did Bouye miss time for injury in 2020 but he also missed four games due to suspension. As a result, he was one of the first big roster cuts made by new general manager George Paton.

Although there are a plethora of cornerback prospects that could replace Bouye as the presumptive CB1 in Denver moving forward, Caleb Farley is slowly reaching a unanimous CB1 status in this draft class but Patrick Surtain II is right there with him.

Built exceptionally well at 6-foot-2, over 200 pounds, Farley has insane athleticism and ball skills to go along with one of the highest ceilings of any player at any position in this draft class.

Surtain may not have the same type of athletic traits as Farley, but he’s no slouch himself and his NFL bloodlines along with tremendous technique at the position could make him an ideal fit for Vic Fangio.

The Broncos hold the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for the time being and the smart money right now is on that selection being used at the cornerback position. Farley or Surtain II would be the clear choices.