2021 NFL Draft Grade: Denver Broncos

Jan 28, 2021; National defensive lineman Ade Ogundeji of Notre Dame (91) drills against National offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin -Whitewater (71) during National practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports


Round 1 Pick 9: CB Patrick Surtain II

Round 2 Pick 35: RB Javonte Williams

Round 3 Pick 98: G Quinn Meinerz

Round 3 Pick 105: LB Baron Browning

Round 5 Pick 152: S Caden Sterns

Round 5 Pick 164: S Jamar Johnson

Round 6 Pick 219: WR Seth Williams

Round 7 Pick 237: CB Kary Vincent Jr. 

Round 7 Pick 239: DE Jonathan Cooper

Round 7 Pick 253: DE Marquiss Spencer


Obviously, the big shocker here is that Denver opted not to pick a quarterback at No. 9 despite both Justin Fields and Mac Jones being on the board. Instead the Broncos added more young depth to their secondary by taking Patrick Surtain II. Surtain is the best corner in the draft and pairing him with Kyle Fuller creates a secondary that is absolutely terrifying to throw at. In a division with the best quarterback in football, that is how you counter it. 

However, Denver may have missed out on a great quarterback in Justin Fields. Not to mention, they also could have gotten Drew Lock some real protection at left tackle by taking Rashawn Slater. Lock had the ninth-highest pressure rate in the NFL during the 2020 season. 

The second round pick of Javonte Williams is equally confusing. They slid up five spots to take the third-best running back in the draft. Melvin Gordon is on the roster, and while he may be in decline, I’m not entirely convinced that Williams is worth an early second-rounder. I had him mocked at No. 64, and if Tampa Bay wasn’t as complete as they are, he easily would have fallen to the third round. He’s a physical back, but lacks the speed I’d like to see.

After this point, though, Denver’s draft is great. Quinn Meinerz is well deserving of a third-round selection and will compete for (and probably earn) a starting guard position right away. Baron Browning and Caden Sterns will provide solid depth on the defense. Denver’s day three pick that I absolutely love, though, is safety Jamar Johnson. I mocked Johnson to go in the second round as the second safety off the board. Johnson’s game tape at Indiana is riddled with ridiculous highlight plays, and he proved to not only be great as a ballhawk, but also as a blitzer. Seriously, if Broncos fans want to get excited, just look up his highlights on YouTube. 

Grade: C+

As much as I love this draft from round three on, I think the Broncos will ultimately regret passing on Justin Fields this year. Drew Lock just isn’t that great as a passer, and while Javonte Williams may prove me wrong, Lock may ultimately hold this team back. That said, Denver fans have probably grown to love watching their defense over the years, and there are some very exciting prospects here on that side of the ball. Both Patrick Surtain and Jamar Johnson have All-Pro potential in the secondary.