The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books for the Denver Broncos, which means it is time for my annual way-too-early mock draft for next season. Clearly, there are so many variables for this mock, more than normal because the draft is so far out, so look at the following picks are names to monitor when the 2020 college football season rolls around (fingers crossed).
It would be interesting to see how things change over the next year, especially with the possibility of the college football season being delayed or even canceled.
For this mock, it was made with the Broncos picking at No. 13 overall based on the inverse odds of winning the Super Bowl. Also, a quick reminder, don’t focus on these prospects exactly. Focus more on the positions and the logic behind each pick.
As it stands, Denver has eight picks with one in every round and an extra one in the seventh procured by trading Andy Janovich to Cleveland. Don’t worry, folks, this will be the last mock for a while.
Round 1: Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Wade is a great cornerback and had he entered the 2020 draft, he would have been a first-round pick and competed for being the second corner drafted. He can play in the nickel, but also has the traits to play the boundary as well. Wade is a much better prospect than Damon Arnette who went 19th overall to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Logic: Denver did make a couple of moves to help their cornerback room, but there are still so many questions. A.J. Bouye has to bounce back and Bryce Callahan's availability is still up in the air. 2020 third-rounder Michael Ojemudia was a good pick, but there is a serious lack of answers for the future of the position behind him.
Round 2: Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama
Leatherwood was a great tackle prospect, but with one year of experience, he returned to get more experience at the position. Had he declared this year, he would have been a likely second-round pick at the latest. It is fully expected that he will really help himself in 2020, but for now, the second-round is where he stands.
Logic: With no moves to address the offensive tackle position, many Broncos fans are in panic mode. Denver is content going forward with Garett Bolles and Ja’Wuan James, but both may be done in Denver after this year. With the uncertainty about the future, it is safe to assume an early tackle at this time.
Round 3: Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
Jackson is a very solid tackle prospect, but he may be a bit limited with his ceiling. Leatherwood is a slight risk, but Jackson is a bit safer, and pairing these two could give Denver bookend tackles for the future. Let them compete and see who fits best where.
Logic: Again, Denver has uncertainty about the future of the OT position.
Round 4: Richie Grant, S, UCF
Grant is a great prospect that many had mentioned as fourth-round-caliber had he declared for 2020.
Logic: Justin Simmons is expected to get extended, but Kareem Jackson may be in his final year with Denver in 2020. Even if the Broncos keep Jackson for 2021, it will be the final year of his contract, which would make next year's draft the ideal time to look for someone to eventually replace him at safety.
Round 5: Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami
Phillips has the natural ability, but he needs to show he can stay healthy and play a full year. If he doesn’t, it’d be safe to move him down the draft board some.
Logic: Von Miller is getting a bit up there in age so the Broncos could be looking for more competition to eventually replace him. Denver hasn’t invested a lot in their edge depth since drafting Bradely Chubb in 2018, but the team does have luck in finding some gems.
Round 6: Khyris Tonga, DL, BYU
Tonga has some good athleticism for his size and this year, I will be keeping an eye out for him after my colleague Nick Kendell brought him to my attention in January.
Logic: Mike Purcell is on a one-year deal and he might be gone after this season. Denver has done well with JAGs at nose tackle (just another guy) so don’t expect a huge investment in a position that only sees 50% of snaps.
Round 7: Trey Sermon, RB, Oklahoma
Sermon doesn’t have long speed, but he is a tough runner that is so effective on inside zone running plays, which are a huge part of the Pat Shurmur rushing attack. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sermon ends up going higher in the 2021 draft, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Denver looks at running back earlier.
Logic: With Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay poised to be free agents after the 2021 season, and Royce Freeman failing to live up to his draft pedigree, Denver will likely look at a running back next year.
Round 7: Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State
A versatile defensive back that can play on the boundary or in the nickel. He offers up strong special teams play and has the potential to help his draft stock. What makes him a fit for Denver is his play in zone coverage and his tackling ability.
Logic: Same as the Wade pick. Denver needs long-term options at CB.