Denver Broncos 2021 draft: Analyzing instant impact for every pick

Denver Broncos, Baron Browning, 2021 NFL Draft; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, Baron Browning, 2021 NFL Draft; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denver Broncos, Patrick Surtain
Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pat Sutrain Jr. (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by Denver Broncos as the number nine overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books which brings a bittersweet feeling. The Draft may be over, but the analysis of each selection for the Denver Broncos has only just begun.

The Denver Broncos’ 2021 class is a fascinating one, not only for the surprising direction George Paton took with a number of his selections but because of the athletes he picked.

There were plenty of pivots throughout this draft for Paton and the Denver Broncos’ front office. Paton was relatively transparent after the draft about not exactly getting every player they were targeting throughout the draft, being sniped a few times for offensive tackles, missing out on Jaelan Phillips, and having to change course when trade value was simply not there.

Ultimately, it’s safe to say that Paton came away with tremendous value throughout the top three rounds and that his selections are destined to make an instant impact in one way or another.

Let’s look through each pick and try to figure out what that instant impact might look like in 2021.

1 (9). Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The immediate impact of the Denver Broncos’ top draft selection is hard to predict at this particular point in time.

Surtain was an outside corner at Alabama primarily with some responsibilities in Nick Saban’s “STAR” defensive back (nickel DB/LB spot) role but he was almost exclusively playing on the outside, where he was dominant.

The situation in Denver makes Surtain’s role — or potential role — very intriguing.

The Broncos went out in free agency and signed Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. They have Bryce Callahan, who was the team’s best corner in 2020, back 100 percent from injury. They also have last year’s third-round pick Michael Ojemudia who started games in 2020 and played well at times.

Surtain likely will slide his way into the rotation as a matchup chess piece in his rookie season for Vic Fangio’s defense, but that is pure speculation. Who knows? We could see Surtain move back and play some safety. We could see him get work as a dime linebacker.

Assuming everyone is healthy, it would be surprising if the Denver Broncos didn’t spend a lot of time this season in a dime defense where Surtain played inside as a nickel.

What will be really fascinating to see is if Surtain gets tasked with matching up on guys like Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. He has the chops to play press-man and keep up with those kinds of guys.

If that’s how the Denver Broncos deploy him, it’s going to be an absolute blast to watch with two seasoned pros on the outside and Callahan in the nickel.