Already, early predictions about the 2021 Denver Broncos defense are coming in. It is no secret that the unit is not what it was back in 2015. In fact, it is not even close. However, new general manager George Paton seems determined to return the group to their greatest days sooner than later…
Predictions About Denver Broncos Defense Give Fans Hope
Seven of the Broncos draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft were used on defensive as opposed to three on offense. These selections are a good indicator of an emphasis being put on the defense. After all, it has been long-awaited. Head coach Vic Fangio’s past success and reputation as a defensive-oriented coach bode well. No doubt, the decision to add talent to the defensive side of the football was not solely Paton’s.
Propelling the team up the defensive ranking began in free agency and spilled into the draft. This year’s talent will not be the feared Super Bowl champion defense of 2015. But if the unit can work hard, play smart, and stay healthy, perhaps they can be a threat once more.
An Athletic Defensive Line
Veterans Shelby Harris (DE), Dre’Mont Jones (DE), and Mike Purcell (NT) are all somewhat undersized. Nevertheless, they make up an athletic group that is capable of disrupting pressure on the inside on passing downs. Specifically, expect Harris to continue to bat down passes in key situations.
An Outside Linebacker And His Protégé
One of the best defensive players in all of football over the past decade, outside linebacker Von Miller returns after a season-ending injury. Can he still achieve double-digit sack numbers? Who knows? The reality may be that it is a long shot. This being due to his age and the injury severity turning his focus on strength rather than speed.
Luckily, the Denver Broncos have a succession plan in place. Bradley Chubb will likely take the reins one day – and can be expected to take a leap in his development to become their next Von Miller.
The Three-Down Linebacker
A true three-down linebacker was missing from Denver’s weaponry. Fangio has finally found that guy in third-round selection Baron Browning (Ohio State). Browning can be an athletic impact player from day one. He has the physicality to stop the run and create problems for tight ends. That being said, Josey Jewell has been the obligatory starter but his playing time may be reduced significantly.
Finally… A Strong Cornerback Group
After much retooling, the Broncos finally have a talented group at cornerback again. They made a huge selection in Patrick Surtain II from Alabama, who was arguably the top cornerback in the draft. He will enter a deep rotation at cornerback, proving at least valuable in nickel and dime packages. Meanwhile, Bryce Callahan sits atop of the depth chart, with free agent signings Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby being key pieces in coverage.
That Trusted Safety Duo
Last season, Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons were among the most effective safety duos in the league. The secondary survived because of them. Expect multiple interceptions now that there are improved playmakers at all levels. At the same time, rookies Jamar Johnson and Caden Sterns will have plenty of time to develop behind them.
The Broncos finally have a secondary that can compete with the strongest of passing attacks. Paton was sure to fill his defense with players that boast speed, agility, and in some cases, experience. Becoming a top 10 defense again will depend on system familiarity, playmaking ability, and coaching staff being on the same page as one another.
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