The Denver Broncos have one of the most well-rounded rosters around the league. The offense has a solid left tackle in Garrett Bolles, a young and promising receiving duo in Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, and an elite running back Melvin Gordon III, who can rush for 1,000 yards.
On defense, the stout defensive line would prove to be a challenge for opposing offenses. On paper, the Broncos have one of the best secondaries in the league. The team franchise tagged safety Justin Simmons and added cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby in the offseason. If veteran pass rusher Von Miller is healthy, he can still wreck games.
Denver is picking at No.9 overall. Below are three options for the front office to consider.
1. LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
Inside linebacker is no longer in the spotlight like the days of old, as teams rely less on running backs. However, if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ run to the Super Bowl proved one thing, it is that having elite inside linebackers like Lavonte David and Devin White can bring a defense to a whole new level.
This is exactly what Micah Parsons can bring to the Broncos’ defense. At 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, he has great size for the position. He is very athletic and has the versatility to play every down. Parsons is a monster against the run and takes off like a missile. At the next level, he should also be effective in blitzes similar to what White does for Tampa Bay. Parsons does his best work when he plays near the line of scrimmage.
Based on Penn State’s scheme, Parsons was not asked to do much work in coverage, but there are signs that point to him doing well in this area. With his combination of size and speed, he can cover tight ends and maybe even shiftier wide receivers.
The one red flag for Parsons is his conduct off the field. There have been reports that he has had off-field issues since high school. Denver will have to do their due diligence in reviewing these and pay close attention to interviews. Of course, these issues may also be blown out of proportion to tank Parsons’ stock.
2. QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
One could argue that the Broncos are a quarterback away from being contenders. This is not a unique case, but Denver certainly meets the criteria. In the 13 games that current quarterback Drew Lock played last season, he threw for 16 touchdowns and 15 picks.
His 57.34 percent completion percentage is troubling, but that is not entirely his fault, as his receivers had a bad case of the drops. Also, while Lock’s blindside is protected by Bolles, the rest of the unit could use some serious improvement.
If the front office decides to move on from Lock, they have the option to do so in the upcoming draft. Denver will probably have to trade up for one of the better quarterback prospects.
Justin Fields is athletic and is an accurate passer, especially downfield. He has the legs to hurt a defense and this is made apparent in designed runs. The knock on him is how he goes about his progressions. He has this tendency of locking in too much on his first read.
3. QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Trey Lance has a great set of physical tools. He has a cannon arm and can burn defenses with his runs. During college recruitment season, he was viewed more as a tight end/wide receiver. Lance is still raw, but at 20 years old, he has time on his side.
If the Broncos pick Lance, they should keep Lock as the starter to give the rookie time to learn the playbook and adjust to the speed of an NFL game.