The Denver Broncos enter the offseason in an interesting situation. They hired a new general manager in George Paton to help lead and build this football team, as former general manager John Elway is going to be taking on a role that’s more focused on the overall operation of the franchise, rather than picking the players. This change should bode well for the Broncos, as Elway has struggled when it comes to drafting and signing free agents in recent years.
Paton takes on a team that has talent but just hasn’t found the consistency to win football games. The team will have a decision to make with quarterback Drew Lock and whether he will be their guy moving forward. Based on Lock’s 2020 season, I don’t believe the team feels great with his long-term prognosis, but he did show enough that it would be understandable to let him have another year to develop. As far as the draft is concerned, if a quarterback falls to them at No. 9 overall, I feel that the team will strongly consider that player, but I don’t believe they’ll be aggressive in adding a quarterback unless they are head over heels for one of the top options. This team is in a position to add quality talent to an already talented roster, and filling some key holes on this roster could have the Broncos back in the payoff contention depending on the steps Lock takes next season.
Here is a seven-round mock draft for the Broncos that could serve as a preview of what we could expect to see come April.
ROUND 1 (NO. 9 OVERALL): PATRICK SURTAIN II, CB, ALABAMA
The Broncos need to get better in the secondary, and they now have a massive hole at their cornerback position as the team released A.J Bouye for cap reasons. Surtain II is one of, if not the best corner in this draft, and can step in from day one and be their number one corner moving forward. Surtain has the versatility to play in any scheme, and in a division that consists of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, having a corner who can lockdown opposing No. 1 receivers is essential.
ROUND 2 (NO. 40 OVERALL): JOSEPH OSSAI, EDGE, TEXAS
This is not just an outstanding pick that fills a need, but this is a tremendous value. The team has Bradley Chubb as an edge rusher and he is only going to get better. However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding future Hall of Famer Von Miller, who is dealing with not just injury concerns, but also some legal issues. Adding a younger edge rusher to pair with Chubb makes sense and Ossai would be an excellent fit. Ossai is more than likely going to be a first-round pick, so getting him in the second round is huge. He is an athletic player who is still figuring out the nuances of the game as an edge rusher, but he plays with an outstanding effort and should continue to ascend.
ROUND 3 (NO. 71 OVERALL): CHAZZ SURRATT, LB, NORTH CAROLINA
Three straight picks and all three on the defensive side of the football. Linebacker is a need for the Broncos as they need to get faster and more athletic at the second level. Surratt falls a bit here and is another excellent value pick for the Broncos. Surratt is a bit raw at the position, but he is athletic and is excellent in coverage. He has the speed and range to play sideline to sideline, and even though he is still new to the position, his natural instincts as a football player allow him to key and diagnose quickly. He would be a big improvement over Josey Jewell, especially as a coverage linebacker.
ROUND 4 (NO. 114 OVERALL): WALKER LITTLE, OT, STANFORD
Garett Bolles took huge strides last year and the team must feel very comfortable with him being their left tackle for the foreseeable future. That being said, the team can definitely use some more depth at the position, and Walker Little would be a solid player to have and groom. Little opted out of the 2020 football season and is getting overlooked a bit throughout the process. Little has very good length and range for the position and is fluid in pass protection.
ROUND 4 (NO. 153 OVERALL): MARVIN WILSON, DT, FLORIDA STATE
The Broncos could be losing a few defensive linemen to free agency, as Shelby Harris and Sylvester Williams are both unrestricted free agents. Adding some youthful talent along the defensive line is always a good idea, and one of the more polarizing players at the position falls to the Broncos' laps. Wilson entered the season being talked about as a potential first-round pick but has seen his stock fall a bit after an inconsistent year. Wilson still possesses the athletic ability and power that had many people excited about him over the summer, and he could prove to be a steal here for the Broncos.
ROUND 5 (NO. 193 OVERALL) KHALIL HERBERT, RB, VIRGINIA TECH
Running back is a little further down the list of needs for the Broncos, but the team could still add a player late to develop behind their current stable of backs. Melvin Gordon returns at the top of the depth chart and is set to play out the second year of his two-year contract he signed last offseason. Behind Gordon, the team still has Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman but could stand to add another back to groom in the scenario the team moves on from any of their current players. Herbert is a talented back who is a good athlete with excellent vision and instincts. He may not be the most dynamic back, but he has good burst, lateral agility, and ability to make people miss.
ROUND 7 (NO. 231 OVERALL) DARREN HALL, S, SAN DIEGO STATE
Denver could lose star safety Justin Simmons to free agency, and Kareem Jackson is getting up there in age. Adding more depth to the back end of their secondary makes a ton of sense. Hall is a really intriguing player. He can play any spot in the secondary and is highly instinctive with good movement skills and ball skills. He makes for a great late-round pick who the team can develop and he can be an instant help on special teams.
ROUND 7 (NO. 233 OVERALL) ROBERT ROCHELL, CB, CENTRAL ARKANSAS
Sometimes the draft is a numbers game, and the Broncos are playing the numbers game with their secondary by drafting three back-end players. The later rounds are where teams feel comfortable taking small school guys with great physical attributes, and that is exactly what this team is getting in Rochell. Rochell is a long, athletic corner who has tons of upside to develop into a solid player down the road.
ROUND 7 (NO. 248): JOSH PALMER, WR, TENNESSEE
Wide receiver is arguably the Broncos' biggest strength. The team selected Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in last year’s draft, and both players showed well in their rookie seasons. The team also has Courtland Sutton returning from injury, and he is one of the best young receivers in the NFL. Selecting Palmer in the seventh round is still worth the flyer even though it doesn’t fill a huge need because Palmer is a player with a lot of upside who could develop into a starting receiver down the line. He is a height-weight-speed type of prospect, and one that coaches will love to get their hands on and mold.