ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The first round may be over, but the Broncos’ chances to add a first-round talent are not.
General Manager George Paton said Thursday night that the Broncos still have “three or four” players on their board with first-round grades, and they could have a chance to add one of those players when Round 2 begins on Friday evening.
No matter how the board falls, the Broncos should be poised to add an impact player. Denver is slated to make the 40th-overall pick — the eighth selection of the round — and Paton said the team has eight players that they “really like.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at eight players — at eight different positions — on the board who could possibly be fits for the Broncos:
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame
Perhaps the biggest surprise to fall out of the first round, Owusu-Koramoah was NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s 15th-overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft and offers unique versatility at the linebacker position. The former first-team All-American was named the 2020 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. Owusu-Koramoah could be a three-down linebacker for the Broncos with the flexibility to play in the slot or as a strong safety. The Broncos have a pair of starters in Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell — and they added Justin Strnad in the fifth round last year — but Owusu-Koramoah could be an upgrade in coverage as Denver tries to combat Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Las Vegas’ Darren Waller. Missouri’s Nick Bolton could be an option, as well, and LSU’s Jabril Cox or Ohio State’s Baron Browning could be options if Denver wants to address the position in Round 3.
EDGE Azeez Ojulari, Georgia
Considered by some to be the top pass rusher in the draft, Ojulari fell to the second round despite a late run on edge rushers (four of the final five picks of Round 1 were edge players). The Georgia product recorded 15 sacks over the last two seasons, and Jeremiah projects that he would fit best in the NFL as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. That could make him a match for Denver, and he could spend a season developing behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Miller is poised to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season, which means it could behoove the Broncos to begin to groom a young player to star opposite Chubb. Texas’ Joseph Ossai and Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham Jr. could also be worth consideration in the second round. Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins could be a third-round option.
T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Jenkins, a two-time honorable mention and 2020 first-team All-Big 12 player, is the top-related tackle left on the board. The 6-foot-5, 317-pound redshirt senior largely played right tackle during his four years with the Cowboys, but he also has experience at left tackle. His versatility could make him a valuable swing tackle for Denver after Elijah Wilkinson departed in free agency. Denver appears set at left tackle after signing Garett Bolles to an extension last season, but right tackle will be interesting to watch. Ja’Wuan James has played just three games since signing with the team in 2019 as he dealt with injuries his first season before opting out in 2020. The Broncos have said they expect him to be the starter in 2021, but they may want to take a tackle as insurance. North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz could be another Round 2 option, while Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg may make sense in Round 3.
DT Levi Onwuzurike, Washington
The Broncos’ starting defensive line appears set after extending Mike Purcell last season and re-signing Shelby Harris before free agency began. Former third-round pick Dre’Mont Jones figures to earn the other starting defensive end job after a 6.5-sack season in 2019. Onwuzurike, though, could give the Broncos another option at the 3-technique if they’re looking to upgrade their depth. The 2019 first-team All-Pac 12 player recorded 95 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks in three seasons before opting out of the 2020 season. Alabama’s Christian Barmore, a second-team All-American, could also be the Broncos’ Round 2 choice. Count USC’s Marlon Tuipulotu and Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon among possible Round 3 considerations.
RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina
After Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were taken on Thursday night, UNC’s Javonte Williams may be the best running back left on the board. The 2020 second-team All-ACC player set a school record for total touchdowns as he ran for 1,140 yards (7.3 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns while adding 305 receiving yards (12.2 YPR) and three touchdowns. A part-time starter, Williams showed a knack for breaking tackles and making home-run plays. Williams could prove to be a perfect complement to Melvin Gordon III’s bruising style, and he could be a future starter if Gordon departs in free agency after the 2021 season. Of course, the Broncos’ free-agent addition of Mike Boone means the Broncos could very well add to the group later in the draft or in college free agency. UNC’s Michael Carter and Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell could also be options in Round 3, while players like Ohio State’s Trey Sermon and Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard could be available on Day 3.
Rumored as a potential first-round pick, Moehrig’s wait will continue into Sunday night. The two-time first-team All-Big 12 player is highly talented and was named the 2020 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s best defensive back. A two-year starter, Moehrig recorded six interceptions and 26 passes defensed over the last two years for the Horned Frogs. The Broncos currently have one of the best safety duos in the league with Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, but Jackson returned to the Broncos in 2021 on a one-year deal and the Broncos may soon have a need at the position. UCF’s Richie Grant and Oregon’s Jevon Holland are also options at the safety position at No. 40, and Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen and Indiana’s Jamar Johnson could be Round 3 possibilities.
It seems unlikely that any of the other quarterbacks left on the board would go as high as No. 40, but Stanford’s Davis Mills could make a surprise push — or, at the very least, be an option in Round 3. Mills started just 11 total games while with the Cardinal as he battled injuries and COVID-19 shortened his final season. His numbers aren’t jaw-dropping — 65.5 percent completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, eight interceptions — but many evaluators believe he fits the mold of a prototypical NFL quarterback. Paton said Thursday that the Broncos were “good to go” with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater after passing on Justin Fields, but he also did not rule out adding more competition at some point. Florida’s Kyle Trask and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond are also part of the next group of quarterbacks who could be available in Rounds 3-5.
TE Tommy Tremble, Notre Dame
A tight end would be a big surprise at No. 40, but the Broncos likely need to add another player to their room at some point this week, and Tremble could fit the mold. The Notre Dame product was an honorable mention All-ACC player in 2020, and he’s a strong downhill blocker that the Broncos may be missing after the team released Nick Vannett earlier this offseason. Perhaps Tremble could be an option if Denver trades down from No. 40 — and there’s also a chance he could be there for the Broncos in Round 3. It’s clear, though, that behind Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam, the Broncos may need a player to compete with Andrew Beck for a blocking tight end role. Boston College’s Hunter Long and Michigan’s Ben Mason could be among the options for later in the draft.