The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away and Denver has the ninth overall pick.  The off-season has been filled with the re-signing of big-name players and shoring up weaknesses with free agent acquisitions.  The Broncos could use their pick on a top linebacker, a shutdown cornerback, or depth at the offensive lineman position.

And there is always that question at quarterback.

A look at the 2021 NFL Draft, the predictions, and who Denver eventually decides on.


  • Jacksonville Jaguars – The first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft is a no-brainer. Gardner Minshew is a nice backup in the NFL, but not a franchise quarterback.  After going 1-15 last season, the team’s luck changed dramatically with the expected announcement of Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, forgoing his senior year and turning pro.  At 6’6 and 220 pounds, Lawrence is the consensus first pick in everyone’s mock draft.

Selection – Trevor Lawrence/QB/Clemson

  • New York Jets – The Jets showed their hand when they decided to ship starting quarterback Sam Darnold to Carolina, ensuring that the second pick in the draft will be a replacement. Justin Fields (Ohio State) and his career stats of 67 TDs and only 9 INTs is a possibility.  But teams cannot help but project Fields as just another great athlete in a program that has missed in the NFL with Dwayne Haskins (2018), Cardale Jones (2015), JT Barrett (2014,2016-17), and others.  Trey Lance (North Dakota State) looks like too much of a project to take at number two.  That leaves just one qualified quarterback.

Selection – Zach Wilson/QB/BYU

  • San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers gave up their 12th overall pick, two future first-round picks, and a third-round pick to move to this spot early in the off-season. The rumors have the team selecting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, but that is just a smokescreen as they could have gotten Jones without moving up at all.  The 49ers knew that Lawrence would be gone and assumed that the NY Jets would either pick a new quarterback or trade their pick to someone that would.  Which means that the 49ers are either willing to take Wilson or Fields, whichever falls to them at three, or they have always liked the next guy.  They have Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch tied to long-term contracts, they have Jimmy Garoppolo, and they have a plan for the future.                                                             

 Selection – Trey Lance/QB/North Dakota State

  • Atlanta Falcons – Many mock drafts project that the Falcons will take a quarterback in this spot to eventually replace Matt Ryan, but this teams needs defense and draft picks. If the Falcons keep this pick, it will be hard to pass on tight end Kyle Pitts (Florida), but look for them to trade down and eventually pick a player like cornerback Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) while acquiring additional draft capital.

Selection – Trading Down

  • Cincinnati Bengals – The simple question is what is best for quarterback Joe Burrow? An offensive lineman like Penei Sewell (Oregon) that will protect him for years to come, or a wide receiver weapon like Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), Burrow’s former college teammate?  Considering the fact that Burrow is coming off an injury, and Chase sat out last season, Sewell gets the nod.

Selection – Penei Sewell/T/Oregon

  • Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins will be tempted to trade down due to the depth at the wide receiver position or take Pitts despite already having a top tight end in Mike Gesicki. But DeVonte Smith (Alabama) is the choice here as the dynamic wide receiver reunites with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Selection – DeVonte Smith/WR/ALA

  • Detroit Lions – Every mock draft has the Lions searching for their next wide receiver. Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) is one option, but when Ja’Marr Chase falls in your lap you have to take him.

Selection – Ja’Marr Chase/WR/LSU

  • Carolina Panthers – The Panthers should probably trade down to add depth, or draft Rashawn Slater (Northwestern), the best offensive lineman left on the board, but they won’t. Kyle Pitts is too good to pass up here, especially as a position of need.

Selection – Kyle Pitts/TE/Florida

  • Denver Broncos – Trading down makes sense as the best players available on the board are simply not players of need for Denver. But I still cannot see a brand new general manager putting his career in the hands of Drew Lock at quarterback.  Look for Denver to swap picks with Atlanta while giving up a future 2nd and 3rdround pick to finally get their quarterback.

Selection – Justin Fields/QB/Ohio State

And finally, George Paton has one more phone call to make.  If Deshaun Watson can clear up his legal troubles, and Houston has interest in draft picks and Justin Fields, Drew Lock can continue as the starting quarterback until Watson comes back from a probable suspension.  If Houston isn’t interested, or Watson’s legal troubles are too toxic to get involved with, moving up for Fields has allowed Paton to hedge his bet.


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Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship