The Denver Broncos roster is, for the most part, squared away. After aggressively attacking the secondary to retain both starting safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, the Broncos signed free-agent cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller to go with Bryce Callahan.
Denver's 2021 defensive backfield has a chance to rival its 2015 No Fly Zone counterpart. If this group doesn't ascend to such a lofty height, it still should be really good.
After re-signing defensive lineman Shelby Harris and exercising Von Miller's option, the Broncos will pair those two with young studs like rush linebacker Bradley Chubb and trenchman Dre’Mont Jones, giving the team a rather formidable four when rushing the passer in sub-packages.
The only spot on the defense with real questions, outside of the quality of depth along the defensive front, is linebacker. Even still, Denver's linebacker corps was far from an Achilles heel in 2020 and should be that much better next season with incumbent starters Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson improving upon last year, with last year's fifth-round pick Justin Strnad thrown into the mix.
Offensively, the Broncos are as young as they are talented. With weapons galore and a fairly high invested offensive line under the watchful eye of Mike Munchak, this team is as poised (potentially) to make a run since as they've been since the years Peyton Manning dominating under center in Denver.
The caveat: the Broncos have to get adequate quarterback play to reach that offensive potential.
After performing as a bottom-5 QB in the NFL last season across many pertinent metrics, are the Broncos going to go 'all-in' on Drew Lock again, or will the team look to upgrade the room? At the very least, new GM George Paton has said that he'll look to give Lock competition.
Lock has shown flashes and is still young and perhaps most importantly, cheap and cost-controlled for the next two seasons but he has not shown enough to warrant being the 'understood' starter without a bonafide contingency plan.
NFL Network's NFL draft guru Daniel Jeremiah, a long-time league scout, recently hinted at the Broncos adding a rookie quarterback to the room in 2021 but not in the first round per se.
I could see Denver going after [Jets QB Sam] Darnold or other veteran options, but if the Broncos don't land one of them, I do believe they'll try to bring in some competition for Drew Lock via the draft. [Kellen] Mond would be a fit in the third round. He improved in each of his seasons as Texas A&M, finishing things up by winning the MVP award at the Reese's Senior Bowl in January. He really improved his decision-making in 2020. Mond could come in and push Lock.
Targeting Mond would not dictate that the Broncos trade excess capital to trade up for a quarterback in the 2021 draft. Rather, Jeremiah suggests the Broncos add a Day 2 quarterback to the room to add another lottery ticket, just as Lock was in 2019, to hope for the anomaly that is a team uncovering a non-Round 1 QB gem with franchise upside.
Mond was a former highly-coveted recruit that showed some flashes while at College Station, but never really was consistent enough to warrant much draft hype. While he does have solid athleticism and a good arm, under Aggies’ head coach Jimbo Fisher, Mond was reduced to a game-manager of sorts, limiting explosive plays for check-downs and safe decisions.
Can Mond create big plays and threaten tight windows? Given his tape at Texas A&M, it’s impossible to know with confidence which is why he'll be a Day 2 pick.
His tools will get him a shot, but any QB that falls to Day 2 should be considered a lottery ticket as opposed to a solid, substantial investment imbued with higher expectations. Maybe you get lucky and hit the jackpot, like Seattle was with Russell Wilson in 2012 and Dallas was with Dak Prescott in 2016, but don’t put your position to depend on a Day 2 QB to be the long-term answer.
Mile High Huddle's Erick Trickel wrote this about Mond in the fall of 2019, previewing the Aggie's potential fit with the Broncos, before the QB opted to return for his senior season.
Arm talent for days, Mond just has to learn touch, technique, footwork and how to better read a defense. He has one of the higher ceilings in this class, but it is going to take a lot of work for him to get there. So far in 2019 he has looked like he has taken a step since last year, but there is still a lot of developing left to do.
The quarterback has always been the most important position in football, but in today’s pass-centric era and the same teams winning year-after-year led by great signal-callers, the takeaway is plain to see: if you don’t have the quarterback position solved, you may have a shot to compete but literally everything else has to go right.
And even if everything else does go right, without a quarterback, it all inevitably comes crashing down as quickly as it started. Look no further than the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars who carried Blake Bortles to the AFC Championship game behind an amazing overall roster.
Vic Fangio's ferocious 2018 Chicago Bears defense went 12-4 with QB Mitchell Trubisky but it soon snapped back to being a middling or worse team as the rest of the roster regressed and the defensive czar defected to Denver. The 'rubber-band effect' saw the quarterback-poor team sink back into the NFL doldrums.
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