clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Full 2021 First Round Mock 2.0

Who should the Broncos take?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 Cotton Bowl Classic - Memphis v Penn State Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s 12 days until the opening round of the NFL Draft, which makes this the perfect opportunity to take an early stab at how it should go. What follows is a quick run through with what I’d do running each franchise. I won’t be doing any additional trades because I can’t trust I’m making a deal with rival GMs in good faith.

At every opportunity I tried to keep in mind what I believe each team needs while also balancing that against who I see as the best players available. It’s a purely subjective exercise and one I assume NFL GMs won’t completely agree with. Especially when you consider I adhere to my 4 simple NFL rules to win the draft. We can take a look back and compare in three years.

Let’s get rolling.

1.1 Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence - QB - Clemson

We’ve reached a point in the draft cycle where casual fans and the media that panders to them spend an inordinate amount of time tearing down one QB prospect to prop up another. The truth is this class is one of the most intriguing I’ve ever covered in any capacity, and it starts with Lawrence. He isn’t perfect, but combines the athleticism, arm talent, experience, and ball placement to turn the Jags into playoff contenders out the gate.

1.2 New York Jets - Justin Fields - QB - Ohio State

Now that Sam Darnold is a Panther there is no debate as to the biggest need facing the Jets. The question is which quarterback they should take. While all signs continue to point to BYU’s Zach Wilson, if it were up to me Justin Fields would head to the Big Apple.

Wilson’s ability to throw from multiple arm slots is special, but so is Fields’, and the 6’3 228 lb. passer combines it with better downfield accuracy and 4.4 speed. He also combines it with multiple years of dominant play in a better conference and doesn’t come with questions about the longevity of his shoulders. He’s safely my QB2.

Perhaps that’s Kyle Shanahan’s also concern, which would why we’ve seen so much misinformation around the Buckeye since San Francisco traded up.

T.1.3 San Francisco 49ers - Zach Wilson - QB - BYU

The Niners traded a haul to move up to third and find themselves with my QB3. While I prefer Justin Fields, Wilson’s arm talent is special. I do think he’s going to need to do a better job taking what the defense gives him in the league, but with Jimmy Garoppolo ahead of him on the depth chart there’s time to bring him along slowly if necessary. He’d terrorize the NFC West for years to come in the Shanahan offense.

1.4 Atlanta Falcons - Trey Lance - QB - NDSU

Matt Ryan’s restructured contract and the tight cap ledger means Atlanta’s facing a situation where they need to squeeze all they can out of the current roster. At the same time, holes on the current depth chart along with the defender Super Bowl champions in the NFC South means there’s probably a glass ceiling on their win total. Rather than risk QB purgatory, I’d take a quarterback who can benefit from time riding the pine so we don’t have to trade away three drafts to get a guy in a year or two.

1.5 Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell - OT - Oregon

Joe Burrow probably wants Ja’Marr Chase, but five years from now he’ll thank me for ensuring he’s got a talented pair of bookends. Given the depth of the receiver class I’m confident we can find a guy down the board and there’s a bigger gap between the Oregon Duck and the second or even third tier of tackle prospects. Riley Reiff will also buy Sewell time to acclimate after opting out of the 2020 season.

T.1.6 Miami Dolphins - Kyle Pitts - TE - Florida

If we’re going to give Tua Tagovailoa a fair chance we need to surround him with weaponry to make the most of his talents. Kyle Pitts is a unicorn with his ability to split out and big boy smaller cornerbacks, fly by outmatched linebackers, and hold up as a run blocker. His elite catch radius and ability to bring down contested catches will encourage Tua to be more aggressive.

1.7 Detroit Lions - Patrick Surtain II - CB - Alabama

Some will argue for a receiver here and I was definitely tempted. What swayed me is the knowledge that Surtain’s ability to win along the line of scrimmage and prowess in man coverage will give Aaron Glenn a dynamic pair of outside cornerbacks so he can scheme up pressure. The fall off at corner relative to wide receiver also factored into my decision.

1.8 Carolina Panthers - Rashawn Slater - OT - Northwestern

Taylor Moton’s playing on the franchise tag and Greg Little’s been a disappointment thus far. Rashawn Slater can compete to start early and eventually provide Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, or maybe even Deshaun Watson a standout pass protector who wins despite his short arms. He displays very good reactive athleticism and has the anchor to withstand power.

1.9 Denver Broncos - Teven Jenkins - OT - Oklahoma State

With four QBs, Sewell, Slater, and Surtain in the top eight, this is about as bad a scenario as it gets for the Broncos.

I prefer Drew Lock to Mac Jones and don’t believe it wise to take a linebacker, running back, or receiver this high up so I’d look to shore up the right tackle spot. Teven Jenkins is the kind of bully who will provide an identity to the rushing attack and he’s an underrated athlete who can eventually succeed Ja’Wuan James. It may not be the franchise savior some have hoped for, but George Paton could do a lot worse.

1.10 Dallas Cowboys - Jaycee Horn - CB - Alabama

If not for Jaelan Phillips’ medical history he’d warrant a ton of consideration here. Without the sort of medical experts NFL teams have access to there’s no way I can take him this high in good conscious.

Horn will pair with last year’s second round pick to give new DC Dan Quinn a pair of corners who can use their length and physicality to reroute assignments at the line of scrimmage. The Gamecock also brings the kind of alpha personality to grow into a core leader on the defense.

1.11 New York Giants - Ja’Marr Chase - WR - LSU

Another team that could use edge help, but given the board I’d grab a pass catcher to settle once and for all if Daniel Jones can cut it. Chase would serve as the second or maybe even third banana behind Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton, but his versatility and physicality would make him a dangerous inside/outside threat who can maximize opportunities after the catch.

1.12 Philadelphia Eagles -Jaylen Waddle - WR - Alabama

There will be parts of Philly outraged about back to back first round receivers, but who are we kidding? Philly fans are outraged about everything. Waddle is the best player left and beside Jalen Reagor is Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham. If Jeffrey Lurie is determined to roll with Jalen Hurts, he needs help. Waddle can take the top off a defense and his elite short area agility will help him to turn short completions into long gains.

1.13 Los Angeles Chargers - Christian Darrisaw - OT - Virginia Tech

The Bolts have a QB and now it’s time to invest in protecting him. I thought about Alijah Vera-Tucker here before going with the Hokie. Darrisaw would give Joe Lombardi an upgrade on Trey Pipkins who can lock down the blind side. He’s very good in pass protection and has the ability to lead the way in the running game with efficient movement skills and raw power.

1.14 Minnesota Vikings - Alijah Vera-Tucker - OL - USC

Everyone celebrated Justin Jefferson and rightly so as he became an immediate star. Things weren’t so clear for Ezra Cleveland as Rick Spielman’s other first round pick found more success inside after he was drafted to solve the left tackle spot. AVT gives the Vikings a versatile zone blocker who could help Cleveland settle into his best long term home.

1.15 New England Patriots - Mac Jones - QB - Alabama

Cam Newton’s playing on a one year contract and I have zero faith Jarrett Stidham’s a long term solution. Given the fact Bill Belichick and the roster are too good to bottom out in 2021 it makes sense to take the best remaining passer available. Jones will always have physical limitations, but New England gives him a spot where he can learn for a year before trying out his best Tom Brady impersonation.

1.16 Arizona Cardinals - Azeez Ojulari- ED - Georgia

I am not Steve Keim and don’t feel the same urgency to win immediately that led him to signing A.J. Green and Markus Golden. Since I can’t go back and correct those mistakes, my best road forward is to make the best of the options in front of me.

The offense would benefit from the addition of another talented pass catcher to take pressure off DeAndre Hopkins, but I think we’ll have talent on the board in round two. There’s no guarantee that will be the case at edge and Azeez Ojulari gives us a talented young speed rusher to learn from and eventually succeed Chandler Jones.

1.17 Las Vegas Raiders - DaVonta Smith - WR - Alabama

My first job as general manager is locking Chucky in the bathroom so he doesn’t cut any more good players. The second job is making sure we take a foundational player, which is harder than it looks because the board doesn’t really line up with our litany of needs.

Rather than sweat out a reach for a safety, linebacker, or Christian Barmore, I’ll give Derek Carr another weapon so he can beat pressure with the quick game. DaVonte Smith’s size and the fact he didn’t work out are rather large red flags, but his tape rivals Ja’Marr Chase as the best in this class. He also served as the go-to receiver at Alabama back when they had all four of their first round guys, including Ruggs.

1.18 Miami Dolphins - Micah Parsons - LB - Penn State

Without Smith on the board we’ll pivot to the defensive side of the ball where Micah Parsons wins a battle for my love. The Nittany Lion wins out in part because of medical concerns about Jaelan Phillips and scheme questions facing Kwity Paye. It helps that Brian Flores has shown time and again over the years that he can maximize an off ball linebacker’s ability to rush the passer.

1.19 Washington - Trevon Moehrig - S - TCU

I would love to take a tackle or quarterback here, but given the way the board fell above me it makes more sense to pivot and take a BPA approach. Washington’s secondary is quietly among one of the best in the league on paper outside of a rather glaring need on the third level. Moehrig would allow Jack Del Rio and Ron Rivera to play Landon Collins closer to the line of scrimmage thanks to his ability to mirror, range, instincts.

1.20 Chicago Bears - Greg Newsome II - CB - Northwestern

With Kyle Fuller a Bronco, there’s rather pressing need across from Jaylon Johnson. Ryan Pace signed Desmond Trufant to serve as a stopgap solution on the cheap, but he’s a bad year away from retirement, so it makes sense to plan ahead. With the Bears moving back to a Fangio style defense Newsome stands out as an ideal scheme fit with his mental processing, ball skills, and willingness to mix it up.

1.21 Indianapolis Colts - Kwity Paye - ED - Michigan

Chris Ballard brought on enough flotsam at left tackle that we don’t have to force a pick here, so I prefer to chase an edge rusher. Without knowing Jaelan Phillips’ medical checks I lean towards Kwity Paye. The freaky Wolverine combines twitch with the strength and while he’ll need to refine his rush plan, he would feast beside DeForest Buckner.

1.22 Tennessee Titans - Rashod Bateman - WR - Minnesota

The Titans’ receiving corps. is held together with duct tape, superglue, and A.J. Brown. It’s so rough Ourlads currently projects Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as the second boundary receiver following a rookie season where he caught all of three passes. Bateman would give Ryan Tannehill a versatile route runner with very good hands who should be able to contribute right away.

1.23 New York Jets - Jaelan Phillips - ED - Miami

The slide ends in Manhattan where the reward outweighs the risk with Phillips, who could line up across from Carl Lawson to give Robert Saleh a promising pair of edge rushers. There are bigger needs on the roster such as the holes in the receiving corps, along the offensive line, and in the secondary, but the best route Gang Green can take is simply adding talented players at premium positions. Phillips fits.

1.24 Pittsburgh Steelers - Liam Eichenberg - OT - Notre Dame

Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement tour will probably sway Kevin Colbert into overdrafting a running back here, but I’d rather address the hole at left tackle with Alejandro Villanueva a free agent. Eichenberg will step in and immediately compete for snaps with Chukwuma Okorafor.

1.25 Jacksonville Jaguars - Samul Cosmi - OT - Texas

In a move that surprised people around the NFL, the Jags franchised Cam Robinson. Given the questions about his long term future it pays to grab a prospect to groom now. Cosmi has the requisite athletic tools to blossom into a good pass protector in time and lock down Lawrence’s blind side for years to come.

1.26 Cleveland Browns - Jayson Oweh - Edge - Penn State

Jadeveon Clowney is no longer the kind of signing that should deter a move at edge. Given the attention Myles Garett draws from opponents, it’d pay to make sure there’s pass rushers who can take advantage of one on ones. Oweh came to the game late and still needs to refine his pass rush plan, but he’s got the hand eye coordination and athletic ability to turn into a stud number two.

1.27 - Baltimore Ravens - Christian Barmore - DL - Alabama

Brandon Williams, Derek Wolfe, and Calais Campbell are plucking grey hairs from their beards and the depth behind them is a bit wanting. Barmore’s a talented pass rusher who could stand to benefit from a rotational role early in his career. Given time to simmer, he could emerge as one of the better interior pass rushers in the league.

1.28 New Orleans Saints - Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah - LB/S - Notre Dame

Thanks to their cap situation the Saints will enter the draft with a bevy of needs and so far down the board they’re left waiting to see what falls. J.O.K. would give them an extremely talented second level defender with the range and ability in coverage to quickly find playing time at Will and help to ease the pain Malcolm Jenkins departure will cause in 2022.

1.29 Green Bay Packers - Elijah Moore - WR - Ole Miss

Given my lack of faith in Kevin King I found myself torn between receivers and a corner. In the end I went with a pass catcher to take pressure off of Davante Adams and make the most of all the RPOs Matt LaFleur ran last season. Moore is a dynamic slot receiver with reliable hands to secure catches in traffic and the short area quickness to be a nightmare with the ball in his hands.

1.30 Buffalo Bills - Caleb Farley - CB - Virginia Tech

After bringing back the key pieces of their 2020 roster, the Bills can afford to take a BPA approach. With questions around his back and no pre-draft workouts, Farley’s a pretty big risk. He’s also a fantastic scheme fit who could develop into the best corner in this class with a little health luck and seasoning.

1.31 Kansas City Chiefs - Alex Leatherwood - OT - Alabama

After cutting both their tackles, Kansas City’s currently set to count on Mike Remmers in a starting role. Not great. Leatherwood may not have the footspeed to survive long term, but given the Chiefs desperation for something resembling competence outside, he’s the pick over Zaven Collins.

1.32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Landon Dickerson - iOL - Alabama

Tom Brady is 95 and the roster around him is counting on a number of wily vets to make it back to the promised land. With Ryan Jensen set to play out the last year of his contract it’d pay to ensure there’s a succession plan in place. Landon Dickerson suffered a torn ACL in December and may need time to round into form, but he’s a battle tested pivot with the versatility to serve as a utility lineman early in his career.

Your Broncos’ News

Biomechanical Q & A – Thin Air

This is yet another reason why I’ve long held that Lock is best served in a Shanahan-tree offense– in most branches of this tree, horizontal throwing range is schematically minimized in favor of stacked vertical routes (favoring vertical accuracy, to which Lock shows good aptitude). In an offense such as Shurmur’s, where horizontal throwing range is paramount, Lock’s anterior cervical inefficiencies likely substantially slow his visual processing (and thereby his mental processing). Hopefully he (like Josh Allen) can overcome this limitation with time and effort. But in my opinion, this is another scheme-related headwind currently facing Drew Lock in Denver.

2021 NFL Mock Draft: New England Patriots trade up for QB Mac Jones, Cincinnati Bengals take WR Ja’Marr Chase | NFL Draft | PFF

6. DENVER BRONCOS: (VIA MIAMI, VIA PHILADELPHIA): QB TREY LANCE, NORTH DAKOTA STATE Atlanta might find it hard to deal the fourth pick because a team such as Denver probably doesn’t need to get that high to snag the player they want and leapfrog any potential rival. I have the Broncos trading up with Miami, which has already demonstrated its willingness to accept the right deal to maximize value. There is a good chance the Dolphins traded back to No. 6 thinking that Ja’Marr Chase would still be there, but with him gone, they are happy to take advantage of Denver’s desperation and net what should be another second-round pick in this draft. Denver needs to make a move at quarterback. Drew Lock ranked 40th out of 42 quarterbacks last season in adjusted completion rate and 35th in overall PFF grade. The Broncos boast plenty of offensive weapons, so they shouldn’t wait any longer for Lock to show viable play. Pivot to Trey Lance, who I think is actually far more ready to start Day 1 than many people give him credit for.

What does the Broncos’ ideal draft scenario look like? |

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.

Melvin Gordon calls last season with Broncos one of his most difficult - ProFootballTalk

“It was probably one of my most difficult seasons,” Gordon said. “I am not going to lie. Just cause a lot of fans and a lot of people weren’t too happy with me coming in and Phil wanting to get paid and everything like that. I was like, ‘Look man, I had no parts in that. I wanted to be here and they wanted me to be here. It was a mutual thing and it kind of just happened. It was tough, man, because I felt like a lot of people didn’t accept me.”

NFL News

2021 NFL Draft: 3 Surprise Players Who Could Go In Round 1 | The Draft Network

ALEX LEATHERWOOD, OT, ALABAMA If you were a general manager and someone told you that there was an offensive tackle that started multiple seasons in the SEC at both tackle and guard, was a part of national championship-winning teams, and finished as a 90th percentile athlete, there would be a lot of intrigue early on for him. That’s a big reason why I think Leatherwood will ultimately end up hearing his name during the first night of the draft. The former Crimson Tide left tackle has his warts as he’s a bit stiff and mechanical in his lower half—which leads to him lunging into some blocks and facing challenges with resetting his base—but considering the success that he had at both guard and tackle, it’s easy to see some team taking a chance on outside of the top 20. The Steelers (No. 24), Packers (No. 29), and Chiefs (No. 31) are three teams that could take a liking to Leatherwood.

Free agent signings “freed up” Washington to draft best player available - ProFootballTalk

“I think what our front office did and what we were able to do in free agency really helped us,” Rivera said, via Ethan Cadeaux of NBCSportsWashington.com. “I think we freed ourselves up because of what they did.”

Nick Caserio on Deshaun Watson: We’re respectful of the legal process - ProFootballTalk

“I know Cal [McNair] and ownership put a letter out a few weeks ago, just relative to the organizational stance, relative to where we are. So I don’t have anything to add other than it’s a legal process,” Caserio said. “We’re respectful of the legal process and where that is. So we’re focused on today. We’re focused on getting ready for the offseason program and getting ready for the draft. So that’s where our focus is.”

Futures: Alabama QB Mac Jones | Football Outsiders

Jones is a decent but ultimately uninspiring quarterback prospect. For the most part, Jones is accurate and capable in working through his progressions, and he will not put the ball at risk. His play within the structure of an offense is reliable, but it stops there. The lack of any dynamic physical trait puts a low ceiling on his game, barring the off chance he develops the finer parts of his game to Brees or Tom Brady levels. It is far more reasonable to expect Jones to deliver play along the Andy Dalton-Jared Goff-Cousins spectrum than to develop into the increasingly rare elite pocket passer. Developing quarterbacks to be elite pocket-only passers in the post-2011 CBA era just does not exist.