Broncos Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

The 2021 Broncos offseason got a lot more interesting when John Elway announced he would be stepping down from his role as general manager. Suddenly, everything is now on the table, as far as what moves the Broncos could make. In this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Denver looks to move on from Drew Lock before investing heavily in rebuilding a defense that took a step back this season.

Broncos Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

  • Round 1, Pick 9: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
  • Round 2, Pick 40: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
  • Round 3, Pick 71: Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
  • Round 4, Pick 104: Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
  • Round 5, Pick 135: Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma
  • Round 6, Pick 166: Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
  • Round 7, Pick 199: Warren Jackson, WR, Colorado State
  • Round 7, Pick 201: Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
  • Round 7, Pick 213: Shaun Jolly, CB, Appalachian State

Broncos 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft pick-by-pick analysis

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Denver looks to finally solve their quarterback problem with their first pick in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

A week ago, a first-round quarterback selection by the Broncos seemed unthinkable, though not because Lock was especially impressive this season. In fact, he was one of the NFL’s worst starting quarterbacks. The problem was Elway was clearly heavily invested in Lock, and reports from people like Pro Football Network’s Benjamin Allbright made it seem like Lock was the favorite to be the starter in 2021.

However, with Elway stepping down this week from his role as general manager and saying he wants to be involved less in the day-to-day operations, Lock’s seat gets hotter. Add in the fact that Justin Fields fell to No. 9 in this Broncos 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, and the pick was a no-brainer.

Now, it’s not likely Fields falls to the ninth pick in the real NFL Draft, but with four tremendous quarterback prospects worthy of a top-10 pick, anything could happen. Remember, before the draft last season, it would have been unthinkable to predict Jerry Jeudy falling to 15, let alone both Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb falling that far.

The Broncos do have more pressing needs like cornerback, but a superstar quarterback is Wonka’s golden ticket. Find that special player, and it makes everything better.

Justin Fields’ strengths and weaknesses

Fields is an incredibly special prospect. There’s a reason he was ranked above Trevor Lawrence coming out of high school. His arm talent might be one of his most attractive traits, but not in terms of sheer brute force. He is able to throw impeccable dimes off-platform, on the run, and in any other scenario you can think of.

Also, he has great mobility for the position, and you have to admire the toughness he showcased in the College Football Semifinal because few quarterbacks could accomplish what he did. That toughness has been a common theme throughout his college career. He is more than willing to hang in the pocket and take a shot, just to unfurl a downfield strike for a score.

Even Fields’ major concerns shouldn’t worry Broncos fans too much. He occasionally shows too much faith in his arm, which can lead to turnovers or near turnovers. It should also be noted that he’s operating in Ohio State’s Urban Meyer-style offense that is known for simplifying the quarterback’s reads, so working through progressions will be an area that he’ll have to develop at the next level.

Overall though, he should be an immediate upgrade on what Lock is currently offering the team.

Jevon Holland, S, Oregon

Another need Denver has to address in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft is the safety position. While both Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson are expected to return next season, it’s possible that neither does. Simmons is an unrestricted free agent after playing on the franchise tag in 2020. Meanwhile, the Broncos have a team option with Jackson that could save them $10 million against the cap. Plus, even if Jackson returns for 2021, he’ll be 33 and playing on the final year of his contract.

That means it’s a great time to draft his eventual replacement, and Jevon Holland is the ideal option.

Holland is a smart and highly versatile defender, which should pique Fangio’s interest. He primarily lined up at safety, but he also spent a lot of time playing nickel cornerback, much like current Broncos player Will Parks. Even more impressive is how well he played in that unnatural role, whether in press or off-man coverage. He was also the “quarterback” on the defensive side of the ball for the Ducks. Holland should give Denver a big boost in regard to handling the talented slate of in-division tight ends.

Holland’s problem is that he needs refinement, as he isn’t really “elite” in many ways. For example, he’s not a great open-field tackler, so you worry about putting him in a deep zone all by himself. He also has a hard time getting off blocks and finding the ball carrier inside the box at times, so you worry about him succeeding there. Also, while he’s gifted in the slot, he struggles to keep up with quicker receivers, limiting his ability.

Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

The draft world will mock Patrick Surtain and Caleb Farley to the Broncos throughout draft season because Denver needs a cornerback, and both of them are perfect fits for Fangio’s scheme. However, if the Broncos decide not to target a cornerback in the first round like they did here, Israel Mukuamu would be an ideal discount version later on in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

Much like Surtain and Farley, Mukuamu is a picture-perfect Fangio cornerback. For starters, he’s versatile and has shown the ability to play both safety and cornerback. In fact, some people like him better at safety, so if the Broncos don’t address that position earlier, they could target Mukuamu for that reason, too. With a 6-foot-3 frame, weighing over 200 pounds, he’s big and long for a cornerback. He utilizes that size advantage to bully receivers into submission.

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Some cornerbacks are praised because they don’t shy away from contact, but Mukuamu is a step above. He thrives on contact and seeks it out. He loves to make the tackle for loss in the backfield or ragdoll a running back to the ground.

The big concern for Mukuamu is that big frame is a little awkward and clunky for a cornerback. He doesn’t move with the same fluidity as cornerbacks like Farley and Surtain, and his hips can’t flip like theirs. That’s a small price to pay for a two-round discount, though.

Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan

With Vic Fangio entering his third season, it’s time for the Broncos to upgrade his prized inside linebacker position in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

Alexander Johnson is an above-average starter and a terrific run-stuffer, but he struggles in coverage, and as a result, he can be a mismatch problem for the defense. Adding an athlete like Cameron McGrone to pair with Johnson goes a long way toward solving that problem.

McGrone only has 15 career starts under his belt, so he is very raw, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better piece of clay for Fangio to mold. McGrone has sideline-to-sideline type speed, which helps him thrive in coverage. His best trait, though, might be his ability as a blitzer. He’s sudden and slippery enough to quickly penetrate the backfield to blow up a play. Typically, Fangio hasn’t been the biggest proponent of the inside linebacker blitz, but we’ve seen Denver utilize it a lot more this season.

All of the big concerns with McGrone are connected to his lack of experience. Sometimes he’ll get caught with his eyes in the backfield or guess wrong on a play and get burned as a result. Nevertheless, those are things you should trust Vic Fangio to sort out more than anyone. If Denver so desired, they could easily have McGrone sit behind Johnson and Josey Jewell for a year while he learns the ropes, then insert him into the lineup as a starter in 2022.

Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma

The Broncos will have to add a tackle at some point, even though they should be set for 2021 in theory. Garett Bolles finally realized his potential with an All-Pro caliber season on the left side. Ja’Wuan James will finally be available on the right side after playing just 63 snaps since signing his contract with the team.

However, considering Bolles has only had one good season and James has had a hard time being available, it would be smart to add an insurance policy.

Adrian Ealy can be just that in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft. He’s a toolsy tackle prospect with an incredibly long frame. Speed rushers have a hard time getting by him because of that range. Under Mike Munchak’s tutelage, Ealy should have a high ceiling considering the tools he possesses.

Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State

Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent and could be off the team before next season. Even if he does return, both he and Melvin Gordon will have contracts expiring in 2022. That means the Broncos will need to inject some fresh talent into the position sooner rather than later.

Trey Sermon, who just ran all over Clemson’s vaunted defense, is a terrific option in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

To be fair, he would be more of a replacement for what Gordon does than Lindsay. His strengths are as a pass-protector, power rusher, and receiver, much like Gordon. He’s nowhere near as quick as Lindsay, and speed is a concern for him. That means he will rely more on balance, power, and grit to succeed at the next level. Fortunately, he has all three in spades.

There are few running backs in his class that are harder to bring down than Sermon. Sermon does a terrific job of churning his legs and fighting for every last yard he can gain.

Warren Jackson, WR, Colorado State

The Broncos invested three picks at wide receiver last draft, and they appear to have hit on all three. As a result, Denver probably won’t pursue receiver too much in this year’s class. With that said, this receiving class also has phenomenal talent, so taking a late-round flyer would be worth it.

Warren Jackson would be an ideal target for such a flyer.

Tim Patrick has been a revelation for the Broncos offense this year, but he’s set to be a restricted free agent this offseason. Even if the Broncos bring him back for 2021, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, barring an extension.

Jackson could join Tyrie Cleveland as Denver’s insurance policy at wide receiver. He’s coming off a terrific 2019 campaign at Colorado State but decided to opt out of the 2020 season to enter the draft. Considering he was a late-round prospect, the decision was a surprising one. It could lead to him falling draft boards as we saw in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft.

If he does make it to the seventh, he would be a steal for Denver.

Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama

Don’t let Phidarian Mathis falling to the seventh round in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft make you think he isn’t a good player. He just plays a role that isn’t highly-coveted in the draft, but he plays that role like a fiddle.

When Mike Purcell suffered an injury partway through the season, Denver’s run defense crashed. They went from being one of the NFL’s best to being one of the NFL’s worst run defense units overnight. Purcell is a terrific nose tackle who can clog up multiple running lanes and eat up blocks. Denver’s issue is that they have no one else on their roster behind him if Purcell sustains another injury.

Mathis solves that problem, but he’s not especially explosive and he offers little as a pass rusher. The Broncos don’t need those things from him, though. They already have Dre’Mont Jones, DeMarcus Walker (for now), and McTelvin Agim on their defensive line. What they need is help clogging run lanes. Mathis is one of the best players in the draft at doing that, and he’s cheap to acquire.

Shaun Jolly, CB, Appalachian State

With their final pick in this 7-round Broncos 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Denver looks to add another piece at cornerback.

Bryce Callahan has done a fantastic job replacing Chris Harris Jr.’s impact in the slot. However, he also will be on the wrong side of 30 next season, has a long injury history, and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022. This past offseason, Denver brought in Essang Bassey as an undrafted free agent to eventually fill that role. Unfortunately, he struggled quite a bit and tore his ACL, so adding another option would make sense.

Shaun Jolly is an excellent nickel cornerback for Appalachian State. His 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame is the sticking point for most teams. That said, he’s got terrific ball skills and instincts, and he’s a more-than-willing tackler.

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