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Broncos 2021 Second Round NFL Draft Board

Who should George Paton consider in the second round?

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Virginia Tech v North Carolina
Javonte Williams would be an ideal fit for the Broncos’ offense.
Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

If you did not see my first-round board, you can catch it here.

If you did, a quick reminder: The NFL Draft is an inexact science.

I see my role in the process as something akin to an intermediary. With the Broncos’ roster and coaching staff in mind, I spend months digging through reports, articles, podcasts, and whatever film I can scrounge up. With that information, I create what you’re reading now to hopefully provide you with list prospects that I believe will fit on the Broncos.

In the name of transparency, I feel it necessary to share whom I consider trusted sources for evaluations as well as other information regarding draft prospects.

There’s no question this is a hopelessly subjective exercise. To create space for discussion where possible, I’ve ranked prospects by tiers and also stacked a vertical board. As part of each breakdown, I made a point to lay out how I see a player fitting the current roster during his rookie season as well as what I think is the most optimistic three-year outcome.

History has emphatically shown that there will be players who fail to live up to expectations on this side of the draft. I’ve made a point to share any potential risks associated with each prospect. To be clear, just because I list an issue as a risk does not mean I am condemning a player, it’s merely something I consider noteworthy information that I would be aware of as I consider him for the Broncos. Obviously every other NFL team has access to medical records, interviews, and background information that I do not, so they may not see these risks the same way I do.

Without additional information, lists like this can only go so far, and yet I hope that it better informs you on how individual prospects could help the Broncos’ roster.

Tier 6: Eye of the beholder, Day One guys

I wouldn’t blame George Paton for taking one of these players in the first round, even if I hope they land at 40.

25. Asante Samuel Jr. - CB5

Fit: Immediate competition for CB snaps. Potential CB4 who offers inside/outside versatility.

Risk: Short and small at 5’10 and 180 lbs. without the frame to add much, if anything. Gambler play style could have boom/bust element to it. Grabby. Marginal play strength. Adequate run defender. Size mismatches will give him issue at catch point in league and can be boxed out.

3-Year Ceiling: Playmaking All Pro corner and constant threat to house an off target pass.

26. Baron Browning - LB3

Fit: Immediate competition for LB snaps with the skillset to make splash plays in pressure packages.

Risk: Surgery for shoulder labrum prior to 2017 season. Bounced between positions at OSU. Mental processing is adequate. Block shedding inconsistencies. Strengths/weaknesses could force him to be role player.

3-Year Ceiling: Elite 4-down linebacker who can do it all: corner on rushes, blow up blocking backs, fill against the run, and terrorize opponents across the middle of the field.

27. Alex Leatherwood - OT5

Fit: Immediate competition for a starting job with previous experience at RG and LT.

Risk: Foot quickness will get exposed against explosive speed who can stress him upfield. Consistent issues with cross chop which is a go-to move around NFL. Stops feet too much. Needs to speed up and add variance to punch, and currently over-reliant on outside hand. Over-reliant on length. Pass pro may force him to guard, but use of hand issues will still exist inside.

3-Year Ceiling: Team captain and starting right tackle you can win with thanks to his power at the POA, mobility to reach and win on the second level, and anchor.

28. Zaven Collins - LB4

Fit: Immediate competition for LB snaps with do-it-all toolset in supersized frame.

Risk: No 3-Cone and Short Shuttle leaves questions about COD. Athletic for a 270 lb. man, but game is won in space in today’s NFL. Not as physical as size would suggest. Pursuit angles need to improve. Block shedding inconsistencies.

3-Year Ceiling: Pro Bowl linebacker who serves as the glue guy in the eye of the storm, with the versatility to rush the passer, own the box, drop in zones, and contribute in pursuit.

29. Liam Eichenberg - OT6

Fit: Immediate competition for a starting OT job who wins with use of hands, core strength, savvy, and fundamentals.

Risk: Meniscus surgery on both knees in high school. 32 3/8” arms fall under Thorn threshold for OTs. Over-reliant on two hand strike. Average athletic profile. Recovery issues lead to grabby play. Oversets leave him open to inside rushes. Aiming point on stretch runs need to improve. 43 games worth of experience on left side make him a projection question for right. Fits best in a zone offense and Broncos mix heavy gap.

3-Year Ceiling: Starting right tackle you can win who is due to his savvy, competitive toughness, use of hands, and play on the second level. Reliable problem solver against pressure packages.

30. Jayson Oweh - ED4

Fit: ED4 with freaky burst and very good tools who can contribute in rotational role.

Risk: Missed two games to injury in 2020. Football young. Minimal coverage experience. Zero sacks over seven games in 2020 despite pressure on 15% of his snaps. Good hands but very limited pass rush plan. 3-Point stance for 94% of collegiate snaps and potential miscast as Fangio Edge.

3-Year Ceiling: All Pro Edge on Hall of Fame track due to explosive athleticism who can bend the arc and win with power.

Tier 7: Second round guys with first round intrigue

There’s some question about fit, positional value, upside, and/or regarding risk that holds these players out of of the tiers above, but they offer exciting upside.

31. Jabril Cox - LB5

Fit: Immediate competition for LB snaps who can win on passing downs.

Risk: Tore an ACL as a junior in high school. Played part of the 2019 season with a torn labrum. Processing looks adequate, SEC was fast in box. Adequate play strength. Adequate against the run at the POA. Adequate against outside runs and will over pursue. Displays adequate tackling in one on one situations, but did show improvement from 2019 to 2020 across jump to SEC. Craftier QBs will be able to manipulate him with their eyes early on.

3-Year Ceiling: Modern hybrid backer who can cover most tight ends, backs, and slots, run sideline to sideline, and contribute to pressure packages.

32. Javonte “Pookie” Williams - RB1

Fit: Immediate competition for RB1 with three down impact, contact balance, and short area quickness to fight for OROY. Best on Inside Zone and Broncos gap concepts.

Risk: Almost quit football in high school between junior/senior year because there were no offers from academic power. 416 touches, two starts, split backfield with Michael Carter. 4.57 40 with good but not great splits, and isn’t a breakaway threat. Pass protection technique needs to improve. Running style and limited resume raises questions about durability in league. Will become impatient in backfield and may try to make too much happen instead of waiting for blocks and get himself into trouble.

3-Year Ceiling: Do you remember Beast Mode?

33. Rashod Bateman - WR4

Fit: Immediate competition for receiver snaps with inside/outside flexibility and the footwork, body control, and hands to contribute meaningful snaps early.

Risk: Opted out in August, returned, then opted out after five games to declare for draft. Skipped 3-Cone and Short Shuttle at Pro Day, leaving questions about play speed. Limited route tree. Most of 2020 snaps came in slot. Lack of top tier play speed and separation quickness. Will need to improve at beating press and length could always trouble him. Wins after catch with savvy more than burst. Broncos currently have very crowded WR room.

3-Year Ceiling: Receiver you can win with who has inside/outside versatility and the ball skills, catch radius, body control, foot quickness, and savvy to push for Pro Bowl votes.

34. Dillon Radunz - OT7

Fit: Competition for a starting OL job who makes the running game better.

Risk: Torn ACL in 2017 caused him to miss all but 15 plays of his freshman season. Spent college career playing against overmatched FCS competition. Just one real game since 2019 thanks to Covid-19 pandemic. Some scouts have called practice habits into question. Flexibility, pad level, and core strength could lead to balance issues early. While his measurements are up to snuff, his length is an area of contention and he needs to do a better job timing up his hands to keep defenders off his chest. Refining his pass sets could be necessary to survive at tackle in the NFL, as better speed rushers will stress him around the arc and he’s prone to overcommitting, leaving himself vulnerable to moves back inside.

3-Year Ceiling: Right tackle you can win with who mauls in the running game and wins most matchups as a pass protector.

35. Joe Tryon - ED5

Fit: ED4 who has the versatility, burst, and fluidity in space to contribute meaningful snaps in pressure packages.

Risk: One-year wonder who has not played since 2019. Traits over tape projection, was good not great in 2019. Skipped bench at Pro Day which leaves questions about his play strength. Good but not great agility numbers at Pro Day does nothing to quell concerns about bend. Inexperience shows against play fakes and misdirection. Better burst out of 3-point stance. Needs to do a better job using length to protect his chest and to disengage from blocks. Needs to improve pass rush plan, lacks true go-to move. Play in space encouraging, but needs to improve recognition and open field tackling.

3-Year Ceiling: Edge rusher you can win with who reliably sets the edge and is a constant threat to break the pocket with his burst and length.

36. Christian Barmore - DL1

Fit: Immediate competitor for snaps along the defensive line who can contribute meaningful snaps on passing downs.

Risk: Traits based projection and skipping Vertical and Broad jump, poor 3-Cone,Short Shuttle at Pro Day raises questions. Football young with only 747 collegiate snaps, played less than 40% of potential snaps, averaged less than 40 snaps per game in starting role in 2020. Protected from running downs. Pad level concerns impact all phases of game. Jumpy. Run defense, recognition, gap discipline, and stacking all need to improve.

3-Year Ceiling: Pro Bowl, gap-shooting defensive lineman who can be a passing down mismatch weapon along the interior.

37. Jamin Davis - LB6

Fit: Immediate competition for LB snaps who can win on passing downs.

Risk: One-year wonder from Kentucky. Skipped 3-cone and Short Shuttle, which leaves questions about COD unanswered. Instances where he hesitates into contact. Not a natural head hunter. Adequate mental processing against the run and he will get caught flat footed against misdirection. Pulling guards cause notable hesitation. Adequate play strength hurts his ability to shed blocks or make a difference rushing the passer. Displays an adequate ability to take on blocks, but when he’s not proactive, he gets hung up and/or washed out. There are instances where he displays poor zone spacing which allows for easy completions

3-Year Ceiling: Will linebacker you can win with whose length, savvy, and range make him a difference maker on passing downs.

38. Samuel Cosmi - OT8

Fit: Competition for a starting OL job who has the athletic ability, competitive toughness, and use of hands to push Ja’Wuan James early.

Risk: Opted out of the last two games of the 2020 season. Arm length falls under what the NFL considers baseline for tackles. Character flag per source. Footwork in pass protection could lead to difficulties against Wide 9 and also cause issues against inside moves. Playing down to competition. Needs to use timing and length to protect his chest better. Better as a zone run blocker and Broncos mix gap.

3-Year Ceiling: Right tackle you can win with who has the mobility and nastiness to lead on running plays, as well as the savvy, quickness, and anchor to thrive on passing downs.

39. Elijah Molden - CB6

Fit: Immediate competition for slot CB snaps.

Risk: Tape-over-traits who hurt quadricep on 40 at Pro Day and skipped 3-Cone and Short Shuttle. Short and small at 5’9, 194 pounds. Medical history includes multiple head injuries including a skull fracture in 2015. Concussion-like symptoms in 2016. Pulled out of the 2021 Senior Bowl because of a rib injury. May be a slot only due to his lack of long speed and size. Top end speed merchants will cause issues because of their transitional quickness coming. Length will be problematic against big slots with the ability to box out. 29 1/2” arms will probably limit his effectiveness in press and may create trouble separating from blocks if he can’t win with his agility or savvy. Willing tackler who has missed his share due to length and over-pursuit. Adequate range and closing speed could hinder his usefulness in deep coverage.

3-Year Ceiling: Slot corner you can win with. A true gamer with rare instincts, physicality, and competitive toughness.

40. Jevon Holland - S2

Fit: Immediate competition for nickel snaps and competition for S3. Special teams contributor. Potential returner and impact special teamer.

Risk: Last tape is from 2019 with 16 starts total. Skipped 3-Cone at Pro Day and good but not great Short Shuttle. High cut frame impacts COD. Light for the box at 207 lbs. Played overhang for a significant portion of snaps and there could be notable adjustment period to NFL slot and safety roles. Needs to improve tackle fundamentals. Good, not great in man coverage and waterbugs could give him issues.

3-Year Ceiling: Starting safety you can win with who fits the Fangio defense and whose strengths compliment Justin Simmons.

41. Ifeatu Melifonwu - CB7

Fit: Immediate competition for CB snaps. Potential CB4 who can step in to boundary snaps.

Risk: Missed seven games across 2018 and 2019 due to hamstring and ankle injuries. Length can work against him in coverage and high cut frame impacts hip turn. Limited slot experience and quickness in tight quarters could be an issue. Grabby. Baits QB which could lead to an adjustment period due to zone spacing. Adequate ball tracking. Tackle technique needs to improve.

3-Year Ceiling: Boundary corner you can win with whose length, reactive athleticism, and instincts make him a good answer for “big boy” receivers like LA’s Mike Williams.

42. Najee Harris - RB2

Fit: Immediate competition for RB1 with three down impact, contact balance, and short area quickness to fight for OROY. Best on Inside Zone, Duo, and Broncos gap concepts.

Risk: Torn meniscus in 2017 that required surgery after season. Right ankle injury in National Title game in 2021. No workouts at Pro Day so athletic ability questions linger. Suspended first quarter of 2019 season opener. 638 collegiate carries, splitting duties with Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, and others. Not a breakaway threat. Needs to refine pass blocking.

3-Year Ceiling: Running back you can win with who displays the patience, power, and pass catching prowess to impact all four downs.

43. Joseph Ossai - ED6

Fit: ED4 who can contribute meaningful snaps due to his versatility, burst, and hustle.

Risk: Late to Edge after playing LB early, football young, and NFL game could be fast early. Play fakes and misdirection could be issues as he acclimates. Huge chunk of his pass rush production came off games. Will shoot too far upfield off the snap. When he allows blockers into his frame, he can get taken for a ride since he doesn’t have the anchor to withstand and reset. Needs to improve at setting the edge to be more than a third down specialist. Stronger tackles on downblocks may always present issues as they can engulf and overwhelm him. Won’t make a living on bend alone and needs to develop rush moves to win 1v1 with any sort of consistency.

3-Year Ceiling: Second Edge rusher you can win who is capable of space play with the explosiveness, fluidity, and hustle to make him a constant threat to run down the ball.

Tier 8: Best remaining players at positions of relative need

Questions about fit, positional value, upside, and/or regarding risk hold these players out of of the tiers above, but they could become good players on the Broncos.

44. Eric Stokes - CB8

Fit: Immediate competition for CB snaps. Potential CB4 who offers inside/outside versatility.

Risk: Disappointing Short Shuttle and good but not great 3-Cone fail to answer COD concerns. Grabby and will draw penalties in league if it isn’t cleaned up. Better in press than off. Marginal run defender who stops his feet tackling and struggles to keep himself clean from blocks. Adequate play strength.

3-Year Ceiling: Boundary corner you can win with who has the long speed, size, and mirror-match to erase most assignments.

45. Elijah Moore - WR5

Fit: Immediate competition for WR snaps who has the explosive twitch to be a big play threat out of the slot and with schemed touches. Dangerous return man.

Risk: Touchdown celebration cost team in 2019. Opted out of final two games of 2020 season. Short and small at 5’9 178 lbs. Good but not great jumps and limited ability to high point football which makes him adequate in contested catch situations. Needs to expand route tree to maximize skillset and feasted on schemed touches. 88% of collegiate snaps came in slot. Iffy blocker due to strength and technique. The Broncos WR room is very crowded.

3-Year Ceiling: Big play slot receiver whose twitch, long speed, hands, body control, and competitive toughness make him a mismatch weapon on third downs.

46. Stone Forsythe - OT9

Fit: Swing tackle who you can survive with in a starting role due to pass blocking.

Risk: Height comes with pros and cons and pad level may always hurt leverage/vertical displacement. Adequate run blocker won’t generate a lot of movement outside of downblocks on plays such as pin-and-pull. Adequate movement skills limit potential on second level. Footspeed and length could lead to mismatches against twitched up speed rushers who can bend.

3-Year Ceiling: Right tackle you can win with whose strength, length, anchor make him a reliable shield in pass protection. Can also log snaps on the left side.

47. Aaron Robinson - CB10

Fit: Immediate competition for CB snaps. Potential CB4 who can contribute meaningful slot snaps early.

Risk: Missed 6 games due to a serious concussion in 2018 that required a hospital stay. Will turn 24 during rookie season. Body control concerns and tight hips hurt him in coverage. Grabby. Better in press than off coverage, but length could hurt impact along LOS in NFL. Zone spacing inconsistencies. Hot-and-cold motor against the run. As a HS recruit, chose Alabama over Florida only to transfer to UCF after one season, which brings some questions about playing in Colorado.

3-Year Ceiling: Inside/outside cornerback you can win with who combines click and close with physicality and ball skills.

Tier 9: Second round prospects

It’s impossible to deny that these prospects look like potential impact players, but they bring some combination of risk, downside, or fit issues that hold them out of the tiers above. For the sake of transparency, I chose to rank them as I see them for their position groups, but there are some major questions that need answering before I would consider drafting them.

Landon Dickerson - iOL2 / OL8*

Fit: Early competition for playing time in “Best of 5” situation with experience at all five positions.

Risk: Played 13 of 38 possible games between 2016 to 2018 due to injury. Tore right ACL in 2016. Season-ending right ankle injury in 2017. Missed most of 2018 with left ankle sprain. Tore left ACL in December 2020. No Pro Day due to ACL injury. Toes the line between clean and dirty, which will draw attention from officials. Pad level inconsistencies suggesting he may be too big to play the pivot in league.

3-Year Ceiling: Pro Bowl interior offensive lineman who combines savvy, competitive toughness, and body control that belies a man his size with a real mean streak.

*Risk makes this ranking very soft, but if everything checks out this is the eighth lineman on the board. *

Terrace Marshall Jr. - WR5

Fit: Immediate competition for WR snaps who has the catch radius, hands, and body control to log meaningful snaps as a big slot and short yardage weapon. Special teams contributor.

Risk: Fibula fracture in 2017. Missed three games to left foot fracture in 2019. Opted out prior to Alabama-LSU game in 2020. Skipped 3-Cone and Short Shuttle drills at Pro Day which leave questions about hip tightness and COD unanswered. More smooth than sudden. Schemed open quite a bit. Adequate separation quickness who needs to do a better job setting up opponents. Occasional concentration drops. 2019 production came in a historically good offense with elite quarterback and very good supporting cast. Broncos have a very crowded WR room.

3-Year Ceiling: Inside/outside receiver you can win with whose catch radius combined with very good long speed, hands, body control make him a go-to guy and red zone nightmare.

Wyatt Davis - iOL3 / OL12*

Fit: Backup guard who can log meaningful snaps on short notice.

Risk: Injured left knee in December 2020 and failed to finish each of OSU playoff games due to left knee injury. No Pro Day workouts due to left knee injury. Grabby. Foot quickness and reactive athleticism will hurt him against twitch. Adequate short area quickness and body control. Needs to improve at protecting his chest.

3-Year Ceiling: Guard you can win with who’s a snowplow at the point of attack and can shut down most pass rushers inside with his very good play strength and anchor.

*Risk makes this ranking very soft, but if everything checks out this is the twelfth lineman on the board. *

Kadarius Toney - WR6

Fit: Immediate competition for receiver snaps with the twitch and hands to contribute meaningful snaps out of the slot. Explosive returner.

Risk: Off-field questions. Suspended 2018 opener for incident where he painted an air-soft gun to look like an AR-15. Pulled over by police in July 2018, which revealed an AR-15 rifle Toney had “for protection because of locals.” Missed time due to shoulder and shin issues in 2017. Left shoulder injury in 2019 caused him to miss six games. Some NFL scouts have voiced concerns that rap > football for him. One-year wonder. 5’11 and 193 lbs. Adequate in contested catch situations. Needs to stay involved. Needs to improve at reading holes/adjusting to defense. Broncos currently have very crowded WR room.

3-Year Ceiling: Electric receiver who can own the slot with his combination of separation quickness, hands, and twitch. Dangerous gadget weapon due to passing skills.

Kelvin Joseph - CB9

Fit: Immediate competition for CB and S3 snaps. Potential CB4 who offers inside/outside and S versatility. Meaningful contributor to special teams.

Risk: Missed one game due to injury in 2018. Disappointing 3-Cone and good, not great Short Shuttle leaves questions. Scouts say passions may be rap > football. “He needs to grow up,” said former coach. On and off-field character questions. Suspended 2018 bowl game and transferred to Kentucky. Opted out of final two games in 2020, coaches directed him because his head wasn’t in it. Bevy of technical issues after starting career at CB-U. 9 career starts and 20 games played. Raw with a need to improve feel, eyes, and recognition. 10.5 yards allowed per snap in man coverage per SIS charting.

3-Year Ceiling: Pro bowl corner who has the size, physicality, athleticism, and ball skills to punish opponents for sending the ball his way.