Denver Broncos NFL Draft Needs 2021: Defense

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The Denver Broncos must draft smart. Once upon a time, Denver’s defense was both feared and envied. Currently, they are far from their glory days, but if they draft correctly they could really turn things around. Some needs may be addressed in free agency but the draft holds many possibilities and a good draft could help get the Broncos back to the playoffs. Last week, we discussed the positions of need in the offense. Now let’s talk about the Denver Broncos NFL draft needs for defense.

Denver Broncos NFL Draft Needs in 2021: Defense

The Broncos heavily invested in their offense the last two years, and it still wasn’t enough. The Broncos 2020 season was hindered by both poor performance and numerous injuries. Their defense is now suffering and they need to focus on improving it, so they don’t continue to be weak on both sides of the ball. There are three defensive positions with question marks that the Broncos need to address in this year’s draft.

Cornerback

Things weren’t quite the same when Chris Harris Jr. left for the Los Angeles Chargers. Denver made an attempt to replace him with A.J. Bouye, who they acquired by trading a fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bouye showed promise but was plagued by injuries. To make matters even more uncertain, he will be sitting out the last two games of a six-game suspension to begin the 2021 season. (Since this article was published, the Broncos have released Bouye on February 11).

Meanwhile Bryce Callahan showed the makings of a top-tier corner but missed the 2019 season with a foot injury and his 2020 season was cut short too. Because of those starters missing playing time, the Broncos cornerback group became a rotation of Michael Ojemudia and others. Ojemudia had a knee injury but played well enough to secure being a starter.

Looking beyond 2021, Callahan’s injuries may have ruined his performance permanently. The cornerback position is a serious issue, and the Broncos may even need to draft more than one. Penei Sewell (Oregon), Patrick Surtain II (Alabama), Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State) and Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech) could be viable options for Denver.

Linebacker

The team relied heavily on Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson. Jewell was a good fit with the team, but both he and Johnson simply didn’t have enough help from their backups. Rookie Justin Strnad was sidelined with an injury all season but his return may impact the defense positively. Having Jewell on a rotation with others would be the ideal scenario.

Head coach Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme utilizes inside linebackers, so the Broncos finding one to pair with Johnson is vital. However, taking an inside linebacker in the top 10 is not the wisest choice for any team, no matter how desperate they are. Nick Bolton (Missouri), Dylan Moses (Alabama), Jabril Cox (LSU) would fit into the Broncos scheme well. Micah Parsons (Penn State) has too many off-field issues, despite having top-10 talent. Denver doesn’t need the drama.

Safety

The Broncos have some important decisions to make at the safety position. Kareem Jackson has an option bonus on his contract that must be picked up before the start of the new league year in March. Justin Simmons will become an unrestricted free agent. The Broncos could work out a long-term deal or place the franchise tag on him again. Simmons is one of the best defensive players on the market, and has done great things for the Broncos. He played every defensive snap the last three years and he fits Fangio’s scheme. They seem to want him back but they may have to cut Jackson to do so.

The 2021 safety class is stacked and the Broncos are unlikely to use their first pick on a safety. If they can still secure Jevon Holland (Oregon), Trevon Moehrig (TCU), Caden Sterns (Texas) or Andre Ford (Syracuse) they will be very fortunate.

Fans will have to wait until the 2021 NFL Draft to see which Denver Broncos NFL draft needs they address.

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