With the 2020 NFL Draft in the rearview and NFL training camp scheduled to start July 28th, it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2021 NFL Draft class. The 2021 draft class is set to feature plenty of talented draft prospects across the board, including at some positions the Broncos need to upgrade. In this 2021 4-round NFL Mock Draft from PFN draft analyst Nick Farabaugh, the Broncos address some potential pressing needs on defense while possibly getting a potential franchise left tackle. Let’s take a deeper look at Denver’s selections in Farabaugh’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft in our 2021 Broncos mock draft review.
15th Overall – Dylan Moses, LB Alabama
With the Broncos’ first selection in his mock draft, Farabaugh has the Broncos passing up on Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade for Alabama’s premier linebacker. A preseason ACL injury kept Moses out of the 2019 college football season, which set him up to potentially enter the 2020 NFL Draft in an underwhelming linebacker class. Instead, Moses opted to return for his senior season with the Crimson Tide.
As Nick points out in his mock draft, the Broncos have Alexander Johnson, a star in the making, and drafted Justin Strnad in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft from Wake Forest. Todd Davis was productive in 2019, but could possibly be gone after the 2020 season. Having a talent like Moses fall to 15th overall is hard to pass up, considering his athleticism, high football IQ, and clean technique that would fit so well in head coach Vic Fangio’s system.
Many would assume that Denver would take a cornerback at 15th overall, especially with a talent like Wade on the board. However, with the Broncos needing to upgrade at a crucial position and a top-10 talent like Moses being available, Nick’s pick is a great selection for Denver. Moses and Johnson could make for a dynamic duo in the AFC West.
Could the Broncos linebackers become elite with Moses?
The addition of Strnad to the Broncos linebacker group this offseason shows that the Broncos are looking to add to the position and make it more compatible with the type of offenses they are seeing in today’s NFL. Strnad is a long and athletic linebacker who works well in coverage, while Johnson is continuing to grow and blossom in both the run and pass defenses. Adding in the speed and football IQ of Moses could turn this young group of linebackers into an elite unit.
47th Overall – Samuel Cosmi, OT Texas
The Broncos could have their franchise tackle of the future after snagging a potential first-round offensive lineman at 47th overall. With other top-tier offensive tackles like Oregon’s Penei Sewell, Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, and Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg off the board in round one, the Broncos had to wait until the second round. Cosmi, like many offensive tackles in college football, has his faults, but he comes with ideal size, great athleticism, and upside. Cosmi would likely be a replacement for Garett Bolles, should the Broncos let him walk in free agency.
While Cosmi has work to do in terms of his pass blocking technique, the Broncos would seem like an ideal spot for him to land in the draft. With offensive line coach Mike Munchak overseeing the unit, it’s completely realistic to see Cosmi becoming one of the better offensive tackles to come out of this class. He is a consistent run blocker that utilizes his athleticism in Texas’ run game. In the passing game, he still has some work to do to fix his technique, but he has shown patience and has used his athleticism to his advantage against pass rushers.
What if the Broncos kept Bolles on a short-term deal?
If Bolles turns his play around in 2020 and the Broncos signed him to a short-term deal and still selected Cosmi in 2021, it could be a ‘best of both worlds’ situation for Denver. If Bolles’ play improves to the point that he is re-signed by the team on a shorter contract, having Cosmi as a back-up to develop for the team’s future plans isn’t a bad idea. It gives Cosmi time to develop his skills and technique while the team benefits from Bolles’ improved play.
79th Overall – Kolby Harvell-Peel, S Oklahoma State
With Justin Simmons playing on the franchise tag in 2020 and possibly hitting free agency in 2021 plus the overall lack of depth and experience in the position group, it makes sense that Nick would select a safety for the Broncos in his mock draft. Harvell-Peel is an intriguing prospect for the Broncos and would be an ideal fit for Fangio’s defensive scheme. While not the cleanest in pass coverage, Harvell-Peel could fill in nicely as the team’s future strong safety in this Broncos 2021 mock draft review.
He is a sure tackler who plays with an aggressive nature, something we see out of current Broncos safety Kareem Jackson. On the flip side, when he is in coverage, he seems to produce a lot of turnovers by being in the right spot. Consistency is key when playing safety, and Harvell-Peel is consistent at creating opportunities for his team to capitalize.
Is safety a significant need for the Broncos?
While it is unlikely to see the Broncos let Simmons reach free agency, the fact remains that the Broncos need to add more depth to their secondary. Adding a playmaker and scheme fit in 2021 is going to be crucial to maintain the success that this defense saw in 2019 and will likely see in 2020. Harvell-Peel could be the playmaking safety that could take over for Jackson in the future when he decides to either retire or move on after his contract.
110th Overall – Mustafa Johnson, IDL Colorado
With the Broncos’ fourth-round selection, Nick gives the Broncos a hometown product in defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson. The Colorado lineman could provide the Broncos with more depth on the defensive front after the team drafted Arkansas lineman McTelvin Agim with one of their third-round selections in the 2020 NFL Draft. How could Johnson fit into the crowded Broncos defensive front?
Johnson’s technique and versatility across the defensive line could prove to be useful for the Broncos. Johnson isn’t the biggest prospect at 6’2″, 285 lbs, but he is a crafty defensive lineman who knows how to use what he has. He utilizes his athleticism and quickness to shoot gaps well off the snap and has great leverage and hand usage. While he doesn’t have the most desirable length, he uses the tools he has to create pressure from the interior.
Projecting Johnson’s role as a rookie
With the Broncos having Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey and budding star Dre’Mont Jones on the defensive front in 2021, Johnson could become a quality rotational lineman early on. His versatility and unique skills could earn him a significant role in Fangio’s defensive scheme. While length and size could be a hindrance to his production in the NFL, we’ve seen smaller defensive lineman come into the league and dominate by using great technique, including Casey who is just over six feet tall.
Did you enjoy this mock draft? Be sure to read our other 2021 Broncos mock draft reviews throughout the offseason and regular season exclusively @BroncosPFN