Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images
How can Elway capitalize on his third year passer?
Drew Lock’s return to the starting lineup means the Broncos are back to trying to figure out what they have in their starting quarterback. Yesterday I wrote about what he needs to improve upon in order to make the most of the opportunity.
The reaction was as I expected. Nothing I write ever creates as much hatemail as when I write about a Broncos’ starting quarterback. The reality is we do not have a clue if Lock is “it” right now. The good news is we should have a better idea in 12 games.
Mock draft scenarios wait for no one, however. So today it seemed like a great chance to dig into how the Broncos can best surround Drew Lock with talent if they consider him the answer in 2021.
For the sake of transparency, I want to be clear about my methods heading in. Going forward these posts will have a rudimentary free agent notes. This isn’t meant to be exhaustive so much as make it clear how I approached the mock. As we get closer to March I’ll add in free agent additions. The hope is this creates a cleaner picture for where my head was at as I went through the scenario.
Today I’m using The Draft Network’s Mock Machine to add college talent.
Franchised / Extended / Retained
Garett Bolles – Left Tackle
Justin Simmons – Safety
Phillip Lindsay – Running back
Alexander Johnson – Linebacker
Von Miller – Edge
Davontae Harris – Cornerback
Calvin Anderson – Tackle
The Trade Down
Philosophically, I’m very pro-trade down. 2021 even more than normal.
If quarterback is not the priority, accumulating draft capital is wise. With opt outs, Covid-19’s impact on practices and games, and historical analysis, I prefer to throw extra darts rather than go “all-in” on any one prospect.
With Bolles, Simmons, and Johnson back in the fold as well as Courtland Sutton and Von’s return to health it looks like the only “premium” position that makes sense around the top of the draft is cornerback. The two top prospects come with pretty significant questions I’ll need to study to address better. Patrick Surtain appears to be a better fit in a man-heavy coverage scheme than Vic Fangio’s, while Caleb Fairly opted out and has missed time due to injury previously.
A couple of phone calls later and we find ourselves with five picks in the top 100. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance are off the board so I’m surprised at the offers. The Arizona Cardinals are pitching me two picks in the top 50 and a fifth.
“I’ll call you back,” I tell Steve Keim.
Cleveland’s on the other line. It’s a real haul.
T.1.22. Quincy Roche – Edge – Miami
I pass on the chance at Penn State’s Micah Parsons and come away with an explosive hurricane. This isn’t about replacing Von Miller. It isn’t an indictment of Bradley Chubb either. It’s about helping them. Watching how the Broncos’ rush has had to transform without 58 has only convinced me that he’s vital to the 2021 roster. So is depth.
Let the local media drum up drama, the Broncos pass rush will attack opponents in waves.
Ok there Quincy Roche!! Hands, hips, burst to finish vs Jackson Carmen
One of my favorite pass rushers in CFB! pic.twitter.com/s2t4ey0bhe
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 12, 2020
2.39. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – Hybrid – Notre Dame
My phone rings, it’s Les Snead. I look at the board again, then down at a report from one of my more trusted scouts.
“He’s like Davion Taylor with high level instincts.”
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah just rocking dudes. pic.twitter.com/fFv52I5moH
— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) October 11, 2020
T.2.54. Jalen Mayfield – Tackle – Michigan
With Bolles on the Franchise tag, I turn my attention to shoring up the right side. Even with Ja’Wuan James back on the roster we need to add depth given how the position’s fared without him and Elijah Wilkinson a New York Giant.
Mayfield is the kind of toolsy prospect I fall in love with every summer. Yes, I know it’s October. Thanks Covid.
3.71. Chazz Surrat – Linebacker – North Carolina
I almost break my “don’t trade up” rule for the Tar Heel. All those years he spent playing quarterback have given him the kind of instincts you dream of. With Justin Strnad’s return to healthy and Johnson back for at least this year, I’m really excited for Fangio’s more athletic linebacker corps.
@PFF_Mike‘s guilty pleasure?
Watching UNC LB Chazz Surratt play football pic.twitter.com/dqSKzPcyYd
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 8, 2020
T.3.85. Derion Kendrick – Cornerback – Clemson
There will be snickers about the Broncos’ never ending third round cornerback spree. I don’t care. Receiver, Corner, Edge, and running back are the four positions you need to expect depth to play early and often. Because of this I have a note in my desk that says “don’t forget the backups dummy.”
Ed Donatell’s going to make Kendrick into a superstar.
Clemson CB Derion Kendrick in 2020 (@PFF_College)
0 catches allowed
5 forced incompletions
#1 PFF coverage grade
Kendrick was great in 2019 considering he was a WR in 2018, but now he is looking like one of top CBs in the country. pic.twitter.com/1IWtwJVWM0
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) October 11, 2020
T.3.93. Kenneth Gainwell – Running back – Memphis
Two safeties go off the board and I get another call from Eric DeCosta. Quick glance at my notes and we’re picking up a fourth to drop down two spots. The Ravens take Kolby Harvell-Peel, who isn’t on our board.
I’m looking at another former quarterback here.
Kenneth Gainwell puts a smile on my face. pic.twitter.com/aZVb0znCuQ
— JWack (@JaredWackerlyFF) August 3, 2020
Your Broncos’ News
The New England Patriots have reported another positive COVID-19 test and are shutting down their facilities on Friday.
The Denver Broncos get a Bye Week inserted into the past and now face a New England Patriots team likely to have their roster back healthy in Week 6.
The long-time, and disgustingly successful head coach of the Patriots got much of his defensive coaching chops right here in the Mile High City.
We don’t know if Drew Lock’s “the guy” yet. The clock is ticking.
Drew Lock is welcomed back with a huge test. Is he ready?
Can the offensive line turn it around?
I’d like to formally apologize to any Broncos fan who is upset right now. Picking sixth just isn’t a good spot for a team that needs a tackle. With Sewell off the board, there isn’t another tackle I value in the top-10.
There was skepticism about Green Bay’s prospects in 2020, but we probably should have seen this undefeated Packers team coming
“I haven’t thought about it,” Garrett said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “Focusing on how I’m going to get to Ben. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, whether that’s down the road or whenever we see each other. I’m just focused on the gameplan and getting the win. That comes secondary.”
If Denver loses its next two games and falls out of the playoff race at 1-5, it will have to face facts. There’s no sense in having Simmons play the second half of a lost season before letting him leave in free agency. Locking in a second-round pick gets the Broncos a better pick than a third-round compensatory selection, has that pick arrive a year early and allows general manager John Elway to spend in free agency without negating that would-be compensatory pick.