Denver Broncos 2021 Season Preview: Broncos win-ready roster a playoff Lock?

The Denver Broncos' roster preview brings a lot of hope for their 2021 season. However, the quarterback question looms large.

The Denver Broncos are one of the more difficult teams to preview ahead of the 2021 season. They have a ready-built, win-now roster devoid of proper quarterback play to make them a legitimate contender. Can one of their quarterbacks step up, or are the Broncos in for another underwhelming season?

Denver Broncos 2021 season preview

The Broncos received a bit of a gift with the fifth-easiest schedule in the NFL. They face four teams projected to win more than 10 games. They’ll play their AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, twice. In addition, the Broncos have the Browns and Ravens on their schedule. Two of those games come at home, and the other two are on the road.

The Broncos’ ease of schedule comes from five very winnable games. They face the Eagles, Lions, Jaguars, Jets, and Bengals in 2021. In terms of low-win total teams, the only one missing from that schedule is the Texans.

Nevertheless, Denver will need to take care of those teams if they want to battle for a playoff spot. The Broncos will also play the Giants and the Raiders, games they should be projected to win. They open with games against the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets. Denver have a real opportunity to open the season 3-0.

Offseason additions and losses

Phillip Lindsay left the team for Houston during the offseason. Furthermore, the Broncos cut bait with veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. On the offensive side of the ball, they cut tight end Nick Vannett. Besides that, there were no other significant losses from the Denver roster.

They did, however, make some huge additions. The Broncos invested heavily into the secondary by signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby. Tagging and then re-signing star safety Justin Simmons was another huge win. They also re-signed Kareem Jackson, securing the most talented secondary in the NFL.

The Broncos then re-signed veteran defensive end Shelby Harris, who is still one of the better big defensive ends, despite entering his age-30 season. Denver also traded for Teddy Bridgewater, who could end up as the starting quarterback if Lock doesn’t improve.

2021 NFL Draft

It wasn’t surprising to see the Broncos draft Patrick Surtain II in the 2021 NFL Draft, but it still feels weird. They already have the most talented secondary in the league. Now, they add yet another cornerback to an already crowded room. Surtain is supremely talented and should start for them on the outside. The combination of him, Fuller, Darby, and Bryce Callahan is the best in the game. Adding Michael Ojemudia to that group is borderline unfair.

Javonte Williams was a fine pick for the Broncos. Williams is a well-built back with smooth feet, great physicality, and ability as a pass catcher.

Denver didn’t stop there. Interior offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz was a stellar value pick. His ascension happened quickly, as he originally wasn’t even a Senior Bowl participant. Only after an injury to Landon Dickerson did he receive an invite. Meinerz wowed in Mobile, and then he tested tremendously.

The Broncos kept going with the selection of Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning. His abilities right now probably fit best as a stand-up outside linebacker. Still, he has the potential to be a great middle linebacker if he doesn’t develop a pass-rush repertoire.

Safeties Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson went back-to-back, proving this is a team that values the secondary. Denver bit the bagel from both ends there.

Johnson is a mentally advanced playmaker with underwhelming athleticism. He’s the type of player who projects as a fringe starter immediately in his career. Meanwhile, Sterns is a fantastic athlete who needs to fine-tune his abilities.

Where do Denver players rank in PFN’s Top 100?

Which players on the Broncos’ roster made PFN’s Top 100 list?

96) Von Miller

Miller is back healthy and ready to get back to his old quarterback sacking ways. With an insane secondary behind him — and a combination of Bradley Chubb and Dre’Mont Jones rushing the passer — he should have ample opportunities to affect the QB.

87) Garett Bolles

Bolles was the butt of a lot of jokes in his first few NFL seasons. However, he started improving toward the end of 2019, and his 2020 campaign was All-Pro-worthy. His ranking could be higher based on 2020, but the poor play prior lingers in mind.

67) Justin Simmons

Simmons is one of the best free safeties in the NFL. He was responsible for 5 interceptions in 2020 and has been as consistent as they come from the safety spot the past few seasons. He earned a four-year, $61 million deal after being franchise tagged.

Broncos 2021 prediction

The Broncos are in such an interesting conundrum as we preview their 2021 season. Head coach Vic Fangio enters Year 3 as the shot caller in Denver. His 12-20 record is nothing to write home about, but the roster also hasn’t been up to snuff — until now.

It’s difficult to know who is calling the shots in regards to the quarterback position. The team now has a roster ready to compete in the AFC, but adequate QB play has alluded them. If the defense plays well and the team doesn’t win because of the most important position, there’s no reason not to give Fangio a fourth season. That is unless he’s the one who’s kept George Paton from grabbing a new signal-caller.

Offense

The Broncos’ offense has a fun backfield. Furthermore, they have what is around a top-third receiving corps in the league. Noah Fant is an athletic tight end, and their offensive line is good outside of a question at right tackle, which they attempted to address by signing Cameron Fleming and Bobby Massie.

Defense

This defense has high-end players at all three levels, but it also has depth at each level. Denver has two legitimate pass rushers on the outside and a gap-penetrating defensive tackle. Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson are tackling machines at linebacker. Moreover, the secondary is the best in the NFL.

2021 Broncos record prediction

The Denver Broncos’ strength of schedule and their roster overall means even if they look to replace Lock, they won’t be bad enough to draft one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft. They’re going to win games because this roster is ready to win. However, the combination of Lock and Bridgewater doesn’t seem like enough to get the Broncos over the hump in 2021. When we preview their 2021 season, it seems like the Broncos are set to finish 8-9 or 9-8.

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