As the NFL Draft inches closer, the chatter about who the Broncos might pick in the first round is getting louder. Read on to see which players have been projected to Denver, which is scheduled to make the ninth-overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
John Clayton, The Washington Post: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
This is a likely landing spot for a QB, either with Denver or a team that trades into this spot. The Broncos need to add competition for Drew Lock, but could consider Slater if he drops to this spot.
Jonathan Jones, CBS Sports: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State [via mock trade up to No. 7]
Denver was never going into training camp without providing real competition for Drew Lock. New GM George Paton trades up here because he's not entirely sure the Panthers won't take Fields since they have not yet picked up Sam Darnold's fifth-year option (which they appear to be waiting until after the draft to do for a reason ... hmmm).
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
[Drew] Lock flashes enough that he deserves another season to prove he can be a starting-caliber quarterback. The defense must get some help, though, and Parsons would be an upgrade at inside linebacker. He could also rush the passer on third downs. He's the best off-ball 'backer in this class.
Dane Brugler, The Athletic: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Drew Lock hasn't done enough to secure the starting job and Fields' talent might be too good to pass up.
Danny Kelly, The Ringer: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
Parsons's skill set will allow him to wear multiple hats in Vic Fangio's scheme. He can take on early-down, off-ball linebacker duties or be deployed in a subpackage pass-rusher role.
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
Surtain is one of the most polished players in this class, and while the Broncos signed Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, Fuller signed a one-year deal, and Bryce Callahan's contract will also expire after the '21 season.
Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
The Broncos boast plenty of offensive weapons, so they shouldn't wait any longer for Lock to show viable play. Pivot to Trey Lance, who I think is actually far more ready to start Day 1 than many people give him credit for.
Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL.com: T Jalen Mayfield, Michigan [via mock trade down to No. 19]
The Broncos already have the weapons around Drew Lock. Now they draft Mayfield to give them two bookend tackles, having locked up Garett Bolles late last year.
Connor Orr, Sports Illustrated: QB Mac Jones, Alabama
Why Jones over Fields? I think Jones is slightly better under pressure. I think Pat Shurmur's connections to Alabama's pro-style staff will probably result in some tea leaves pointing to Jones. I think the Broncos staff probably saw a lot of Jones in person during the scouting process of Jerry Jeudy, which is why I wouldn't put a ton of stock into GM George Paton skipping the Crimson Tide's pro day in 2021 to attend Ohio State's with Fields.
Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
The top five quarterbacks are off the board, so Denver fills an immediate need in selecting Parsons here. Parsons starts at one of the linebacker positions in Week 1 (strongest position is WILL) as his athletic frame presents a nightmare for teams looking to run off Denver's defense.
Peter Schrager, NFL.com: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Lance could go as high as No. 3 or remain available until the middle of Round 1. I think Denver makes a whole lot of sense if he's available here.
Walter Cherepinsky, WalterFootball.com: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
Lance has some nice physical tools, and he's coming off a huge year in 2019.
Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
After tons of speculation about trading up, Fields falls into the Broncos' lap. Ideal.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
The Broncos have to be thrilled about the Panthers' deal for Darnold, because it ensures they can get a much-needed passing and athletic upgrade from Drew Lock early. Fields can be a great fit in Denver, which should take good advantage of his dual threat.
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: T Penei Sewell, Oregon
LT Garett Bolles played really well last season, and now you add a bookend on the right side in Sewell.
Josh Edwards, CBS Sports: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State [via mock trade up to No. 7]
It is an ideal situation for a team that was patient watching others around it make all of the difficult decisions. If Fields is successful as Lamar Jackson -- the fifth quarterback taken in the 2018 NFL Draft -- then it will be a huge success for the AFC West franchise.
Cynthia Frelund, NFL.com: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Denver is in an interesting spot, with the opportunity to trade up or down, depending on the strategy at the QB position. If the team wants to add a first-round QB, Fields is a fit, but a prospect who forecasts to be in the range of a late-first or early second-round pick (that is, in the trade-down range) and who really pops for the Broncos is Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield, who would slot in on the right side of the offensive line.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
They upgraded in a big way at corner in free agency by landing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, so it's time up improve the linebacker group. Parsons can be an every-down player. He does have some character questions.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
Selecting Fields would be a bold - but potentially necessary - move for the team to take the next step.
Adam Rank, NFL.com: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
I know a lot of people will say the Broncos filled their CB need by signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby in free agency. But A) Fuller's only on a one-year deal, and B) you can never have enough quality corners in this AFC West.