Over the last few years, the Denver Broncos' off-ball linebacker play has been a disappointment. It remains a roster hole that needs to be filled by the Broncos, especially competing in the AFC West.
Against the run, the Broncos' linebackers have been solid, but their play in coverage has been the source of the overall disappointment. Coverage in at the second level is the most vital area for Denver to improve defensively.
The 2021 NFL draft offers several intriguing prospects who could answer that bell. Here are the top-5 ILB prospects to fit the Broncos but keep in mind, it's still early in DraftSzn and this list is likely to evolve before April.
Keep in mind, in the video above, I break down in-depth each of these prospects and why they're sure to be on the Broncos' Big Board.
- Micah Parsons | Penn State
- Dylan Moses | Alabama
- Chazz Surratt | North Carolina
- Jabril Cox | LSU
- Garret Wallow | TCU
Alexander Johnson is poised to be a restricted free agent which means he can be retained on the relative cheap but his play this season has been average. He was carried by his run defense and blitzing. In coverage, however, Johnson's limitations created issues for the Broncos defense.
Josey Jewell has been solid this season but with limitations in all phases. He has been the better linebacker all around, but that's because he does better than Johnson in coverage and worse as a run defender. They're about equal as blitzers.
There is a wild card with the Broncos' linebacker corps and that is Justin Strnad, who was poised to have a big role in VIc Fangio's defense before suffering a season-ending injury in training camp. Denver could still have high hopes for him, but his medical history means the team shouldn't count on him. The Broncos need to hedge their bet and find some additional help at linebacker.
This year's draft offers up a good off-ball linebacker class. The 2021 'backers offer up different styles of play to fill every role needed for NFL defenses.
On top of that, this class features guys who can step in right away as well as developmental prospects and there are plenty of options for both. Denver needs help at linebacker and this is a good year to get that help.
If the Broncos land the right guy, and Strnad fulfills the potential the team sees in him, this weak group could turn it around rather quickly.
Don't forget to hit the video above for a deep-dive on why these five ILBs will be on Denver's draft radar.