Penn St-Parsons Football

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons (11) tackles Rutgers tight end Johnathan Lewis (11) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, in State College, Pa. Penn State All-American Micah Parsons is opting out of the 2020 season because of concerns about COVID-19. The junior linebacker made his announcement with a social media post Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)

The Broncos are entering one of the most pivotal offseasons in recent franchise history, and while they plan to be busy in free agency, this year's draft will play a huge role in the direction they take in 2021. 

Picking ninth, it's Denver's highest pick since 2018 when it selected outside linebacker Bradley Chubb fifth. It's only the third time in the last 10 years that the Broncos have had a top-10 pick.  

Will they take a quarterback to compete with Drew Lock? Or a corner to help their depleted depth? Or maybe a top linebacker or edge rusher? Or possibly an offensive linemen to fill out that right side?

Here's 10 players the Broncos could consider taking at No. 9:

LB Micah Parsons, Penn State

Parsons did not play in 2020, opting out of the season due to COVID-19, but is considered one of the best defensive prospects in the class. Parsons mostly played inside linebacker at Penn State, filling gaps well and was one of the best coverage linebackers in the country. But Parsons also played on the edge some as an outside linebacker, which could be a good fit for the Broncos if Von Miller doesn't return next season.

Either way, Parsons would provide depth for a unit that features Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell inside and Bradley Chubb and Miller outside. Parsons had 109 tackles, 14 for loss, five sacks, five pass breakups and four forced fumbles in 2019. 

CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Denver's cornerback unit was depleted by season's end, losing six corners because of injury. Surtain is considered as one of, if not the best cornerback prospect in this year's draft and could start for the Broncos from Day 1. Playing in the NFL runs in the family for Surtain, whose father played 11 seasons as a cornerback.

Surtain has had a phenomenal junior season at Alabama, helping it to the national title game while totaling 34 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception. 

CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Farley, like Parsons, did not play this season because of COVID-19. Farley was one of the best cover corners in the country in 2019 as a sophomore, totaling 20 tackles, 12 pass breakups and four interceptions. 

Depending on what the Broncos do with veteran corners Bryce Callahan and A.J. Bouye, Farley or Surtain or any other corner the Broncos might draft, could start next season alongside Michael Ojemudia, who played well at the end of this season. 

Edge Kwity Paye, Michigan

Paye only played four games his senior year at Michigan, but he's been one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten over the last three seasons. With the Broncos losing several players up front this past season because of injury, it would make sense for them to look at adding depth on the defensive line and Paye is someone Denver may not be able to pass up on if he's available. 

In his career, Paye had 59 tackles, 23.5 for loss, 11.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He's considered one of the best athletes in the draft. 

Edge Gregory Rousseau, Miami 

Similar to Paye, Rousseau has been a dominant edge player in college football, but did not play in 2020 because of COVID-19. Many believe he's a solidified top-10 pick and a player teams will have a hard time not drafting. 

In 2019, Rousseau had 59 tackles, 19.5 for loss and 15.5 sacks — the most in the ACC. Rousseau would be a good fit in coach Vic Fangio's defense, which had 42 sacks in 2020, ranking ninth in the NFL.

OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Slater opted out of the 2020 season, but started at left tackle for the Wildcats in every game in 2019. At 6-foot-3, 305 pounds Slater is not one of the biggest offensive linemen in the draft, but is one of the most versatile. He shot up draft boards this offseason after shutting down former Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, who was selected second in the 2020 draft. 

With the Broncos possibly seeking a new right tackle, having started three players there this season, Slater might make a good option to come in and start Day 1. Slater could also play guard, potentially replacing Graham Glasgow.

OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

Similar to Slater, Vera-Tucker is one of the more versatile offensive linemen. He can play tackle or guard, but played at left tackle for USC. Listed at 6-4, 300 pounds, he's one of the most athletic linemen in the draft. 

With uncertainty around Ja'Wuan James, who opted out of the 2020 season, as well as Elijah Wilkinson, Calvin Anderson and Demar Dotson, it would be wise for the Broncos to consider taking an offensive lineman in one of the first three rounds. 

QB Zach Wilson, BYU

With Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields likely to be QB1 and QB2 in this draft, Wilson could fall to No. 9. Some experts rank Wilson the No. 2 quarterback ahead of Fields, throwing for 3,699 yards, 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions this season. 

The Broncos have said they're sticking with Lock next season, but with a new GM anything can happen. And if Wilson is sitting there at No. 9, he might be hard not to take a chance on. 

QB Mac Jones, Alabama

Jones will almost certainly be available at No. 9, as he's rated as a late first-round or early second-round pick. Jones has had an outstanding junior campaign, helping lead the Crimson Tide to the national title game while throwing for 4,036 yards, 36 touchdowns and four interceptions. He's a Heisman Trophy finalist. 

The Broncos would have to feel really good about Jones to take him ninth, and it's certainly possible he could be available early in the second round if they wanted to risk it and wait. 

QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

Lance would be the riskiest pick of the bunch, but has solidified himself as one of the top quarterback prospects this year, despite only playing one game this season at North Dakota State. Lance is a dual-threat quarterback, throwing for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019. He was one of the most electric players not only at the FCS level, but in all of college football. 

Lance, like Jones, will likely be available at No. 9 as he's rated a middle to late first-round pick. It will again likely depend on the Broncos' new GM and how confident they are in Lock. 

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