We're about 50 days out from the Jacksonville Jaguars going on the clock with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and every draftnik in media seems to believe they know what the Denver Broncos will at pick No. 9.
It is entirely possible that the Broncos, directed under first-time GM George Paton, won’t wind up sticking at pick 9. There is a chance Denver could fall in love with one of the top quarterback prospects and decide the price to move up is worth selecting a young signal-caller.
Even more likely, given the propensity of the Minnesota Vikings (Paton's former employer) to trade down, it's possible the Broncos work out a deal to move back, accumulating a larger quantity of draft capital as well as future picks. However, for the mock drafts with the Broncos sitting at nine, it seems like the team’s biggest immediate need matches too perfectly with the current consensus of the top prospects in the 2021 draft.
There is no doubt the Broncos are hurting at cornerback. It’s such a massive hole that 9NEWS' Mike Klis suggested Denver not only take a cornerback in the first two rounds of the draft, but also use a significant chunk of its salary cap space to acquire a corner in free agency. With Bryce Callahan’s injury history and just one year left on his contract, as well as 2020 third-rounder Michael Ojeumdia’s up-and-down rookie season, doubling down on corner isn’t the worst idea, especially in the AFC West.
There are a number of possible cornerbacks Denver could consider in the first round. None make as much sense in Vic Fangio’s off-coverage heavy match-quarters scheme as does Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley. Expect him to be mocked to Denver a lot from now until the real deal on April 29 — barring a drastic change to the Broncos’ current hole at the position or perhaps Denver trading pick 9 away.
Getting in line with the national media projecting Farley to the Broncos, Charley Casserly, former NFL executive and ex-GM of the Houston Texans and Washington Football Team, is the latest to predict the 6-foot-2, 210-pound cornerback to Denver.
In a segment on NFL Network covering the top defensive prospects in the class, Casserly waxed poetic about the scheme versatility and upside of the Hokie defender:
When you watch him on tape because that’s what you have to work with because you didn’t see him live this year, you have a guy who looks like a complete corner. Looks like he has the hips and turn-ability and speed to play in off coverage. You see him in press, he’s effective there. You see him in zone, he’s effective there. You want to find out how fast this guy is, but he’s my number one rated corner slightly ahead of Patrick Surtain of Alabama.
Casserly also writes in his mock that, “The Broncos mull taking Justin Fields here but decide to go another year with Drew Lock under center. Farley replaces the recently cut A.J. Bouye .”
Taking Farley seems like a no-brainer on the surface, but that easy choice may be difficult if the Ohio State quarterback is on the board. Considered the most likely prospect to usurp the first overall draft slot from Trevor Lawrence this offseason, there seems to be some serious difference of opinion when it comes to Fields after his junior season.
With incredible tools, a lengthy pedigree, 4.5-second speed, and athleticism, and charted as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in college, Denver would have to think long and hard about passing on Fields at pick 9.
Not simply to select Fields to Denver, but also assuming Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson are all off the board as Casserly predicts in his mock, the Broncos should have a long list of suitors attempting to move up for Fields.
Drafting Farley feels like a no-brainer decision, but if Paton can secure a literal heap of draft capital to give the team flexibility not only for 2021 but going forward, that may be too tempting to pass up.
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