The Broncos' draft is complete, with 10 new faces hoping to contribute come September. But did general manager George Paton fill all the positions of need?
Here's three spots the Broncos still need to add help this offseason and three places where Paton got the job done in the draft.
Help still needed
Offensive tackle: If there was a position that really needed to get filled and didn't, it's tackle, specifically right tackle. The Broncos did draft Wisconsin-Whitewater's Quinn Meinerz who can help on the interior, but Denver still needs to find a capable backup at right tackle, as it was a rotating door last season. Coach Vic Fangio said starting left guard Dalton Risner is the emergency right tackle right now and with Ja'Wuan James coming back this season, the hope is that they won't have to move Risner over. Still, look for the Broncos sign a few tackles in free agency to compete in training camp.
“We targeted a few that were taken right before we took them, but it didn't fall our way," Paton said of drafting a tackle. "We still feel good about our depth. We'll continue to look on the market — the free-agent market. I think we're signing five offensive linemen from college free agency. Sometimes it just doesn't fall. We had a tackle we liked but he was taken right before, that's just the way the draft goes.”
Quarterback: Of course, the Broncos added depth to the quarterback room, trading for Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. But how much better did it actually get? Sure, Bridgewater brings some much needed experience and he showed promise in Minnesota and New Orleans, but he's coming off the worst season of his career statistically. There aren't many options out there at quarterback, but one might be available soon — Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. The Broncos are expected to be right in the mix if that happens.
“I like our room right now," Paton said. "We’ll let them compete. I like the room. Does it mean we won’t continue to look? No, but I say that about every position. I look forward to getting Teddy here, and he and Drew having a great competition.”
Tight end: With three tight ends on roster — Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Austin Fort — the Broncos don't necessarily need another heading into 2021. But after Okwuegbunam suffered a torn ACL last season and with Fort having limited playing experience, signing a fourth tight end might be a smart move. Many expected the Broncos to take one on Day 3.
"Again, we tried at times and it didn’t quite fall our way," Paton said. "We have three guys that we like. We’ll continue to look, and we’ll sign some in college free agency. We’ll work the free agent market, and we’d like to add another big guy that can block. We’ll continue to look. Definitely.”
Running back: Maybe the best move Paton made all week was moving up for North Carolina running back Javonte Williams. Arguably the best back in the draft, Williams will contribute to Denver from the start, alongside veterans Melvin Gordon and Mike Boone, who the Broncos signed in free agency.
"All three of them are different, and they all bring something different to the table," Fangio said. "I think it’s a really good mix, I like having multiple backs and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
Secondary: There was no unit where more help was added this offseason than in the secondary. On top of signing cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, Paton also drafted cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Kary Vincent and safeties Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson. The cornerback room is full and the safety room will have some interesting battles, especially between Sterns and Johnson.
"It'll be good competition between those two guys and the other safeties that are already on the roster," Fangio said.
Linebacker: The Broncos could probably still use some help at linebacker, but Paton was able to draft one at inside backer, Baron Browning, and outside backer, Jonathan Cooper. Both come from Ohio State, which has proven to produce elite talent. Browning is the one to watch this offseason, as he'll push Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson for one of those inside starting spots. He can also play outside if needed.
"I think we’ll try him inside first, but not for sure," Fangio said of Browning. "If it’s not working out, we’ll move him outside and maybe even cross-train him. I’d like to give him one spot when he gets here in the base package and work him around in the sub-packages to get a better feel for him."