Denver Broncos mock draft: Trading down and loading up on defense

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the Denver Broncos during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: A video board displays the text "THE PICK IS IN" for the Denver Broncos during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Mock drafts are fun, and they are actually a useful tool used by many in efforts to foresee what is the best possible outcome for a team’s upcoming draft class. Front office executives use them, fans and media create them, and all football fans enjoy them. For myself, I have created several to see what route I think would help this Denver Broncos roster be the best it could possibly be, and ultimately, this was created in an attempt to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs.

As the Denver Broncos sit at pick number nine, they come to the conclusion that this team needs defensive depth across the board. While the majority of the starting unit is intact, there are a few possible upgrades to still be had. This draft class will be deployed to not only upgrade the 2021 Denver Broncos, but this team for the next few years as they grab exceptional talent, youth, and depth on the defensive side of the ball, revamping Vic Fangio’s defense.

With the ninth overall pick, the Broncos decide to trade down to pick number 13 with the Los Angeles Chargers. First-year head coach Brandon Staley has former ties with the Broncos, and calls George Paton and offers him pick number 47 and pick number 159 in exchange for pick number nine.

Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert gets a new blind-side protector. Staley discussed the glaring hole that they currently have at left tackle, and protecting their promising quarterback is a must.

The trades don’t stop here as the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to bring in some weapons for their rookie quarterback and head-coach tandem, Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer. The Jaguars move up to pick number 13 in exchange for pick 25 and 45 in this year’s draft and a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Jaguars would then select either Jaylen Waddle or Devonta Smith, both former Alabama Wide Receivers, whoever was still left on the board.

This ultimately gives the Denver Broncos the following picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:

  • Pick 25
  • Pick 40
  • Pick 45
  • Pick 47
  • Pick 71
  • Pick 114
  • Pick 152
  • Pick 191
  • Pick 237
  • Pick 239
  • Pick 253

As a reminder, the Denver Broncos also picked up an additional second-round pick in 2022’s NFL Draft in this mock scenario. Let’s get to the picks.

Pick 25- Linebacker Jamin Davis, Kentucky

Pick 40- Safety Richie Grant, UCF

Pick 45- Linebacker Jabril Cox, LSU

Pick 47- Cornerback Elijah Molden, Washington

Pick 71- Tackle Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

Pick 114- Cornerback Trill Williams, Syracuse

Pick 152- Edge Johnathan Cooper, Ohio State

Pick 191- Edge Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame

Pick 237- Runningback Larry Rountree III, Missouri

Pick 239- Safety Tre Norwood, Oklahoma

Pick 253- Defensive Line Mustafa Johnson, Colorado

This mock draft was solely created for one purpose — to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. So many people have become enamored with the thought of “oh, Patrick Mahomes is going to score 40 points a game, so we also have to do that!”

Newsflash — there is only one Patrick Mahomes. If you watched Super Bowl LV, then you saw first hand what an exceptionally talented defense is still capable of, even in today’s game. Like most observers, I saw what the pairing of a dominant, fast, and physical linebacker group can do to the Chiefs’ offense.

Think about a defense that has Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the outside applying pressure, Shelby Harris and Dre’Mont Jones holding up on the end with Mike Purcell stuffing the middle.

Behind that already tough front, the Broncos would have either Alexander Johnson, Jabril Cox, or Jamin Davis patrolling the middle of the field behind them. Then at the very back end of your defense, there are free-agent acquisitions Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby holding down the outside.

Bryce Callahan is one of the best slot corners in the game when he is healthy and on the field. Kareem Jackson was brought back to add the fire and physicality that this defense needs, as well as having in George Paton’s words, “the best safety in the league” keeping everything in front of him.

This defense would be incredible, unbreakable even. Second-year cornerbacks Micheal Ojemudia and Essang Bassey could play in a pinch and spell the starting defensive backs to keep fresh legs behind wide receivers like Tyreek Hill.

Rookies Trill Williams, Elijah Molden, and Richie Grant should also see their fair share of snaps, but more importantly, have the time to learn the game and speed adjustments at the pro level. This gives this 2021 unit youth, depth, and a future as players like Kyler Fuller, Kareem Jackson, and Bryce Callahan could all be heading elsewhere next season as they are all on one-year deals at this point.

Rookie edge rushers Johnathan Cooper and Adetokunbo Ogundeji could also see snaps, but should really only be pressed to play major snaps in case of injury, illness, or suspension to the top three pass-rushers on this roster. Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Malik Reed are a solid top three unit if all healthy and should lead the way in 2021 for these young guys.

This draft would fill out the entire depth chart on the defensive side of the ball for not only 2021 but would put the Broncos in a great position in 2022. There is a good chance all of the aforementioned players leave this organization.

While I did add a couple of offensive players in tackle Jalen Mayfield and running back Larry Rountree III, this draft’s primary focus was to get young, fast, and deep on the defensive side of the ball.

Adding a tackle in this draft has to happen, as Ju’waan James isn’t even trusted by his own teammates right now, so he surely doesn’t have the trust of the fans.

Larry Rountree III was an addition to be a guy who could be the Melvin Gordon type back if Gordon had to miss a few games for whatever reason. He’s solid in between the tackles and has a thick lower body build that helps him be physical as an inside ball carrier, he also has ties with Drew Lock and Albert Okwuegbunam.

In this scenario, the quarterback position was not addressed during the draft, but a player like Alex Smith could be brought in to hold the fort down if necessary. Adding a future second-round pick, if Drew Lock happens to not be the guy, this team could literally throw the entire 2022 draft at a team for a guy they like.

The offense is still very young and will have all their core players returning under cheap deals except Courtland Sutton who should be resigned or franchise tagged. The 2021 Denver Broncos offense could still be potent with Alex Smith or an improved Drew Lock under center. Noah Fant is still an uber-athletic 4.4 tight end, Jerry Jeudy still creates immediate separation, and Courtland Sutton will Moss just about anyone given the opportunity.

With the defense addressing all of its depth issues in the 2021 NFL Draft, and even adding a few starters, this team could head into 2022 with one potential question, and that would still be a quarterback.

The rest of this offense would basically remain together in 2022, and the team as a unit would have a lot of cap space to play with to address any possible fall-offs or concerns that arise during this upcoming season.

This 2021-2022 Denver Broncos roster would not need a Patrick Mahomes to compete, they just need competency at the Q, and Alex Smith or an improved Drew Lock could be that in 2021, but it may need to be addressed in 2022 if Lock does not progress.