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NFL Draft Grades: Analyzing the Denver Broncos 2021 draft class

We’re rounding up all of the NFL Draft analysts recaps out there and finding out how they graded the Denver Broncos draft class.

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The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books. With 10 total selections, the Denver Broncos maneuvered the draft well under general manager George Paton with multiple trades along the way. The Broncos 2021 draft class featured the best cornerback in the class and a starter-caliber running back in the second round.

Broncos 2021 Draft Class

Round Pick Player Position School Info Video
Round Pick Player Position School Info Video
1 9 Patrick Surtain II CB Alabama Scouting Report Highlights
2 35 Javonte Williams RB North Carolina Scouting Report Highlights
3 98 Quinn Meinerz OG Wisconsin-Whitewater Scouting Report Highlights
3 105 Baron Browning LB Ohio State Scouting Report Highlights
5 152 Caden Sterns S Texas Scouting Report Highlights
5 164 Jamar Johnson S Indiana Scouting Report Highlights
6 219 Seth Williams WR Auburn Scouting Report Highlights
7 237 Kary Vincent CB LSU Scouting Report Highlights
7 239 Jonathon Cooper LB Ohio State Scouting Report Highlights
7 253 Marquiss Spencer DE Mississippi State Scouting Report Highlights

As far as draft grades go, Broncos Country are mostly giving Paton a ‘B’ grade for this draft class. At least according to the 50% or so in our poll at the end of this post are giving him that grade. Fans tend to be either overly optimistic with these snap grades or overly pessimistic. So I thought it would be a good idea to aggregate draft grades from around the nation to see what other draft analysts thought of Denver’s draft class here. I only clipped snippets from the overall grades posted by these analysts, so click through their name to read the full grade if you are interested.

Broncos draft grades

Mel Kiper Jr. - ESPN

B. Denver made a draft-eve trade for Teddy Bridgewater, which means it’s heading into the 2021 season with a quarterback competition between Bridgewater and Drew Lock (unless ... it can pry Aaron Rodgers from the Packers). Was it the right move to pass up a quarterback at No. 9 overall? All I’ll say is that the Broncos will have the worst signal-caller in the AFC West, whether it’s Bridgewater or Lock. If Justin Fields becomes a superstar in Chicago, we’ll remember that new general manager George Paton passed on him and took a corner instead.

To be clear, though, I did like the player they picked — Patrick Surtain II — who has a chance to be a Pro Bowl-level corner. (Paton & Co. pulled off a great smokescreen.)

Chad Reuter -

B+. The Broncos picked the best cornerback in the draft in Surtain, so there’s no questioning the value of that selection. But GM George Paton passed on quarterback Justin Fields — and fans won’t forget that decision if Fields goes on to great success in Chicago while Denver continues to search for an answer at QB.

Pro Football Focus

A-. Surtain was a curious pick considering how loaded the Broncos’ defense already is on paper and the team’s clear need at quarterback. But head coach Vic Fangio has a sure-thing lockdown cornerback. Surtain II, the son of former NFL cornerback Patrick Surtain, is a truly elite technical player at every facet of the cornerback position. He can press receivers out of the game and also play zone at a very high level. Surtain is a complete player.

The good news is that the Denver Broncos selected the No. 1 running back on PFF’s Big Board as the third back off the board. The bad news is that they traded up to make it happen, thus investing more in the position than is ever wise to do so.

Danny Kelly - The Ringer

C. If the Broncos somehow figure out a way to finagle a trade with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers, this draft grade will suddenly look a lot different. But as of now, I find it hard to believe that Denver passed on the chance to take Justin Fields with the no. 9 pick. Surtain is supremely talented, but sticking with the quarterback combination of Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater is uninspiring. Then the Broncos traded up in the second round just to pick a running back. This doesn’t look like a team that’s especially close to pushing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy.

Ryan Fowler - The Draft Network

B+. I love what Denver did here. If you haven’t looked, the Broncos had one of the more impressive rosters in all of football. The only reason I didn’t give them an “A” was due to the team passing on Fields at No. 9, even with Teddy Bridgewater now in town.

Luke Easterling - The Draft Wire

B+. There were a couple of needs left unaddressed here, but it’s hard to argue with the value at just about every pick here. Passing on Justin Fields might come back to haunt them, but Patrick Surtain II was a bargain as the second corner off the board. Trading up for Javonte Williams gives them a bright future at running back, and Quinn Meinerz is the most underrated offensive lineman in the entire draft. Baron Browning filled a need and was a solid value at the end of Day 2, and a strong Day 3 was highlighted by big steals in Seth Williams and Jamar Johnson.

Ben Rolfe - Pro Football Network

B+. This draft for the Denver Broncos was full of good value selections. Patrick Surtain was a great way to start, and the value, later on, cemented this as a solid draft class. The problem for Denver is that they really needed to address the quarterback position and they seemed to ignore it completely. Without fixing the elephant in the room, the Broncos grade is capped at B+.

Mark Maske - The Washington Post

B-. The Broncos were said to still be a candidate to take a QB at No. 9 even after they traded for Teddy Bridgewater to pair with holdover Drew Lock. Perhaps that was pre-draft subterfuge; Denver used the ninth pick on CB Patrick Surtain II. He’s a promising cornerback and worthy of the ninth choice. But the Broncos, again, have failed to resolve their QB issues, unless a trade for Aaron Rodgers is forthcoming. Second-round RB Javonte Williams and third-round G/C Quinn Meinerz were sensible picks.

Nick Goss - NBC Sports

A. The Broncos selected the best cornerback in the draft in Alabama star Patrick Surtain II at No. 9 overall, and then selected UNC running back Javonte Williams in Round 2. Both players should make immediate impacts as rookies, particularly Surtain. He was dominant in coverage for the Crimson Tide.

Vinnie Iyer - Sporting News

B+. New GM George Paton faired pretty well with his volume of picks. Surtain is a surefire star and Williams can make Melvin Gordon expendable. Browning, the two safeties, Cooper and Spencer were some needed supporting chess pieces for Vic Fangio. Meinerz should start to boost the run blocking. There is, however, a notable position missing as for now, Denver sticks with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater as its QB options in a critical season.

Tim Lynch - Mile High Report

B+. As for me, I would grade the Broncos draft from top down as a solid B to B+. I love Patrick Surtain II and believe he has the kind of Champ Bailey like traits that could turn him into an All Pro type cornerback in this league. I also think we’re going to quickly forget about Phillip Lindsay once we see Javonte Williams doing work in games. Both third round picks look like they could develop into good players, but I absolutely loved the pick up of Jamar Johnson. It was just a solid all around draft class. Nothing too flashy, just very solid.

Do you think this draft class is going to make a huge impact for the franchise for years to come? Let me know down in the comments.


Grade the Broncos 2021 Draft Class.

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    (2703 votes)
  • 46%
    (3647 votes)
  • 13%
    (1042 votes)
  • 3%
    (273 votes)
  • 3%
    (250 votes)
7915 votes total Vote Now