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NFL Draft

Denver Broncos 7-Round Mock Draft: April Edition

  • The Draft Network
  • April 21, 2021
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If you haven’t followed the Denver Broncos over the last couple of seasons, well, I don’t blame you. To catch you up to speed, the introduction of general manager George Paton simply summarized the state of Denver’s organization. “George Patrick, er, George Paton—to everybody” former general manager John Elway so eloquently stated when introducing the Broncos’ new general manager in January. It was sloppy, embarrassing, and just not a good look as Elway handed off the reins. It was a simple yet telling statement that so clearly summarized the Broncos over the last half-decade. 

I digress, and let’s focus on football where Denver is in dire need of positives. Head coach Vic Fangio’s seat is ever-warming, and the bubble of uncertainty surrounding quarterback Drew Lock has become an overwhelming headline for an organization on the heels of four consecutive below .500 campaigns. Things aren’t well in Mile High as we approach the 2021 NFL Draft, with no clear direction moving forward under the tandem of Paton and Fangio.

When taking a step back and focusing on his first spring calling the shots, Paton enjoyed an outstanding free agency period in which he addressed the loss of cornerback A.J. Bouye by acquiring both Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby to shore up the corner room. He also re-signed do-it-all safety Justin Simmons to provide one of the more experienced secondary units in football. 

With nine overall selections, the Broncos' war room will be awfully busy come their time on the clock. It’s anyone’s guess on who they’ll ultimately take at No. 9, but I focused this post-free agency mock on both developmental youth littered with starting talent. Let’s get right into it. Using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, I took a look at which prospects Denver could, and should, target next week in this Broncos-only mock. 

Round 1 (No. 9 overall): Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

This may be the common selection, but it’s the right one to make as Lock enters his third season as the presumed starter. In hindsight, Lock has the tools, but it just hasn’t come together for the former Missouri standout in Fangio’s system. Lock threw a league-leading 15 interceptions in 2020, ultimately swaying the pendulum in favor of another signal-caller as 2021 nears. It’s a harsh reality for the ever-confident Lock who’s flashed on film, but sparks of greatness simply don’t cut it in the NFL.

Trey Lance not only matches Lock stride-for-stride in the arms race of tools, but he’s also a prospect with a unique skill set simply not touted by the Broncos current gun-slinger. Lance, though inexperienced totaling just 319 passing attempts during his time at North Dakota State (which accounts for the least among projected top five quarterbacks), will turn 21 years old the week following the draft. A year in reserve could serve Lance well, but it would present a lose-lose situation if Lock were to show out in his third season. If Lance is on the board here at No. 7, Paton shouldn’t hesitate to turn in the card. Lance is the future in Denver. 

Round 2 (No. 40 overall): Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky

Jamin Davis within a defense of Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Justin Simmons is a flat-out treat for defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. 

He touts everything you look for in a modern second-level defender with the ability to cover and defend from sideline to sideline. There isn’t a glaring weakness in Davis’ game who would immediately become the green dot for Denver’s promising unit. Within the AFC West, which touts the talents of tight ends Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) and Darren Waller (Oakland Raiders), Davis presents a cog at linebacker for the foreseeable future to counter the high flying offenses within the division. 

Round 3 (No. 71 overall): Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

If you’re investing a top-10 pick under-center, Paton must address his need at right tackle, especially with Ja’Wuan James’ injury history. He’s played in just three games since the conclusion of the 2018 season, and I don’t think Paton gets cute here when addressing the unit tasked with protecting Lance.

Jackson Carman has excellent experience starting 27 games over the last two seasons blocking for former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He will be asked to lose weight to adjust to Fangio’s running scheme that asks both the tackles and guards to utilize mobility on the edge, but it doesn’t get much better here in the third round. Like Garrett Bolles, Carman is a nasty finisher with a desire to embarrass defenders every shot he gets. Well constructed with excellent strength and footwork, Carman is a Day 1 starter that immediately solidifies Fangio’s line. 

Round 4 (No. 114 overall): Jay Tufele, IDL, USC

This is a spot that I could see Paton drafting earlier. Keep an eye on a prospect like Daviyon Nixon if he slips in the second or third round. However, Jay Tufele is a very polished prospect who is a nice fit here in the fourth. He has ideal 3-technique traits out of an even front, but man would he thrive in Donatell’s 3-4 scheme anchoring Shelby Harris and Dre’Mont Jones. 

Tufele has some of the most disruptive tape of all interior prospects in this class stemming from his powerful lower half and quick hips to slide from gap to gap in the run game. He would provide a nice boost within Denver’s 25th-ranked rush defense in 2020. 

Round 5 (No. 152 overall): Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

Shaun Wade’s lack of success moving towards the draft has become a storyline surrounding the former Buckeye, but it largely contributed to his move to the outside from his typical confines of the slot during his time at Ohio State. In this scenario, I envision him sticking in the slot to compete with Bryce Callahan for reps. 

Wade’s intangibles jump off the page at 6-foot-1 and a sub-4.45-second 40-yard dash. He thrived his first two seasons in Columbus, Ohio, where he was able to work in press-man as he consistently smothered smaller wideouts with his length and hip-to-hip cover skills. Wade was thought to be the top corner in the 2020 draft class if he declared; it's a win-win for Paton in the fifth round if he fails to pan out. If Wade’s skill set develops, he could serve as the steal of the draft.

Round 6 (No. 191 overall): Shaka Toney, EDGE, Penn State

With Miller expected to depart in free agency following the 2021 season, the addition of Shaka Toney with Chubb entering a contract year as well would be ideal. 

Jayson Oweh stole the show at Penn State’s Pro Day, but Toney’s game has continued to slide under the radar, a positive for Denver in this scenario. Toney concluded his illustrious Nittany Lion career with a superb Pro Day session of his own, running 4.51 seconds in the 40 and recording a 39-inch vertical jump and a 128-inch broad jump. He also repped 225 pounds 24 times in the bench press; this all followed an impressive career that saw him record 20.5 sacks, good for eighth all-time in program history. Each one of those Pro Day numbers—except for the bench—would have ranked first among all EDGE prospects at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. For a man of his stature at 6-foot-3, 242 pounds, Toney’s well worth the flier here late in the selection process with much-needed depth among Denver’s front seven. 

Round 7 (No. 237 overall): Ihmir Smith-Marsette, WR, Iowa

Denver loves long, quick wide receivers who can compete at all three levels of the defense. With Lance under center, the Broncos are going to sling it around the yard, and Ihmir Smith-Marsette fits the bill. He was a gadget weapon for Iowa and wasn’t utilized correctly in the plain Hawkeye offense with his pro-ready skill set as a route runner and physicality in the open field. Alongside Jerry Jeudy and the 6-foot-4 duo of Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, Smith-Marsette would offer a sure-handed wideout with elite speed to work primarily on set plays at the onset of his career. 

Round 7 (No. 239 overall): Camryn Bynum, CB, California

Camryn Bynum is an interesting prospect to project due to his height-weight-speed combo which is why I envision him moving to safety where his flaws will be less scrutinized. He’s excellent in coverage where he thrives in space working in zone and above average in identifying route combinations working towards the third level. He’s a developmental prospect that could work on special teams in his first season, but I also see him working rotationally on passing downs to mold him into a starter opposite Simmons. 

Round 7 (No. 253 overall): Kevin Jarvis, IOL, Michigan State

Depth is the name of the game along the offensive line where the Broncos have enjoyed their fair share of injuries over the past couple of seasons. Kevin Jarvis is a primary guard prospect who aligns well as a lighter interior athlete with experience working on wide-zone concepts at Michigan State. Behind Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow, Jarvis would offer ideal depth at the position with traits capable of developing into a starter down the line. He also has experience at tackle where he started ten total games at right and left tackle in 27 appearances for the Spartans.

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