The NFL Draft, the most optimistic event of the NFL calendar, is almost upon us. Everyone leaves the draft feeling full of hope, but that feeling is stronger for some fanbases than others.
In this article, we’ll look at what the Broncos can do to infuse the most hope and optimism in their fanbase as possible by going over what Denver’s dream draft should like.
Day 1: Quarterbacks fall into Denver’s lap
Whether you believe Drew Lock is the answer at quarterback in 2021 and beyond or you feel the Broncos have to move on from him to stand a shot at the playoffs, quarterbacks dropping down the boards should be your dream scenario.
It’s obvious why you would want the refined-yet-talented Justin Fields or create-a-player Trey Lance to slide down the boards if you’ve seen enough of Lock, but Lock loyalists would be rewarded by those players sliding as well. Outside of quarterback and maybe tackle (though reports from 850KOA’s Benjamin Allbright make it seem like they’d prefer to target tackle later on as well), the value likely on the board at nine doesn’t match the Broncos’ needs, so they’d ideally like to trade down if they’re not replacing Lock.
The problem there is, what will people want to trade up for if the quarterbacks are already off the board? Maybe they want to poach top cornerback Patrick Surtain from the Cowboys or they want to land the last remaining member of the top-end skill position group before the Giants land them with the 11th pick, but Denver will receive a much lesser haul in that situation than they would if Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or maybe even Mac Jones were still on the board.
No matter who you want under center in 2021, those quarterbacks sliding down the boards would be fantastic news for Broncos Country.
Either you solve the long-nagging quarterback problem or you give yourself the ability to load up on tons of day two talent, which is where all the value at Denver’s positions of need is.
Day 2: Add talent on D and add insurance at RT
The dream scenario for Day 2 is much less clear, but in this case, that’s a good thing. The reason it’s so foggy is that there’s a myriad of paths the Broncos could choose from that all land them in an idyllic place.
The most idyllic of these paths — and likely one of the least likely, unfortunately — features Jaelan Phillips miraculously falling to the second round. The Broncos will need a replacement for Von Miller on the edge eventually, and it would be surprising if they’re in a position to pair Bradley Chubb with an edge rusher as talented as Phillips in the near future. The injury history is a concern with Phillips, but players like him rarely make it out of the top five-or-so picks, let alone have a chance of falling to the second round, and it’s unlikely the Broncos are picking that high again soon.
But again, that’s one of many options the Broncos could choose. They could use an infusion of youth to bolster their depth and also serve as an eventual replacement at almost every position of their defense.
On the edge, they’ll eventually have to replace Miller, and at safety, they’ll have to replace Jackson. Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan are both free agents at cornerback and health is also a concern at that position. Meanwhile, Josey Jewell is the worst defensive starter and an impending free agent at linebacker.
Fortunately, in the second round there are prospects who can fill all those needs.
A player like Jayson Oweh is really intriguing as an edge rusher to learn behind Miller before taking over. They could find an exciting replacement for Kareem Jackson in Hamsah Nasirildeen, or a more pro-ready option with either Trevon Moehrig or Richie Grant. They could find a replacement for Jewell and the perfect complement to Alexander Johnson with linebackers like Baron Browning, Jabril Cox or Jamin Davis. Lastly, there are also several potential solutions at cornerback with Elijah Molden, Asante Samuel Jr., and Eric Stokes just to name a few.
In the third round, they could look to target another solution to their problems of youth and depth on defense, but instead, the perfect scenario is probably landing a developmental tackle for Mike Munchak to coach into a superstar.
There are a few potential candidates for the role, but the best one is Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown. Brown is a rare athlete in terms of his size, strength and physicality, and while his movement skills aren’t outstanding, they’re pretty impressive for a player of his stature. He’s a project but that’s Munchak’s specialty, and the upside is out of this world.
Day 3: Finish adding depth to defense and skill position groups
On Day 3 of the draft, the Broncos’ goal should stay the same for the most part. They’ve patched up some of the holes along the backend of the roster but several still remain, and it’ll be up to them to try and patch them with their remaining picks.
The most important difference between the Day 2 and Day 3 targets for the Broncos are the needs they’ll be targeting on offense.
The Day 2 tackle class is excellent and considering that tackle is a premium position, the Broncos would be wise to take advantage of that, especially considering there’s a healthy drop off to the Day 3 class of Tommy Doyle and Jaylon Moore.
You could also say the same for the edge class on the defensive side of the ball, which is why adding a talented edge like Phillips was listed as the most-idyllic choice.
Running back, wide receiver, and blocking tight end though are all needs with great Day 3 value the Broncos should target.
There’s always a Day 3 or UDFA running back that pleasantly surprises and the Broncos are in good enough shape at the position that they don’t have to make a luxurious investment in it. Josh Imatorbhebhe or Josh Palmer would be excellent depth to replace Tim Patrick eventually at wide receiver, and top blocking tight ends like Nick Eubanks, John Bates, and Tony Poljan won’t go off the board until Day 3 either.
Outside of that change, the Broncos should continue to check off their depth needs across the roster which they were unable to address on the first two days of the draft.