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Denver Broncos NFL draft picks 2021: Analysis for every selection

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Patrick Surtain II's NFL draft profile (1:18)

Check out the best highlights from Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II's college career. (1:18)

The 2021 NFL draft was held April 29 through May 1 and every Denver Broncos' draft pick has been analyzed here.

After last season's virtual draft, Cleveland is playing host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.

Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player Denver has selected will fit.

Analysis of every NFL pick | Updated NFL depth charts


Round 1, No. 9 overall: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

My take: The Broncos have proven throughout the offseason they like quarterback Drew Lock more than many others do. They largely sat out free agency at the position until they made a trade for Teddy Bridgewater Wednesday. Hours after Bridgewater was in the Broncos' facility to take a physical and meet the coaches, the Broncos passed on quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones to take Surtain. Surtain will be an immediate contributor in a defense that signed cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in free agency and signed safety Justin Simmons to a long-term extension. Welcome to life in the Patrick Mahomes-led AFC West.

Family affair: Surtain's father, Patrick, played 11 seasons in the NFL -- for the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Surtain II has said his father had an enormous impact in his pursuit to follow him into the NFL. Surtain II had a necklace made before the draft that had a Playstation video game controller on a chain -- the "PS2.'' Many scouts and coaches in the league have said Surtain II consistently shows awareness in his game, which comes from having spent so much time talking with his father. Defensive coaches said it's consistently clear when Surtain II seems to decipher the routes before the receivers are finished running them so he is in position to play the ball first.

Top-shelf talent: This past season Alabama's associate defensive coordinator Charles Kelly compared Surtain II to Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey. With the Broncos having signed Darby and Fuller in free agency, Surtain's arrival will give them versatility in their nickel and dime packages -- the Broncos were in the specialty packages over 70% percent of the time last season -- given Fuller can move around from the outside and into the slot. Surtain, like many defensive backs coached by Nick Saban with the Crimson Tide, is well versed in a variety of looks, so the learning curve should be shorter for him. Earlier this offseason season Broncos general manager George Paton called the NFL a "rush and cover league'' and the pick of Surtain confirms how strongly Paton felt that way.


Round 2, No. 35 overall: Javonte Williams

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Javonte Williams' NFL draft profile

Check out some of the best plays from North Carolina's Javonte Williams.

My take: The Broncos wanted Williams so badly they moved up five spots in the second round to get him. One of the most physical running backs on the board -- with piles of broken tackles in his wake -- Williams had three games with at least three rushing touchdowns last season on the way to 19 rushing touchdowns overall. With the decision to rescind the free-agent tender on Phillip Lindsay this offseason and let him leave in free agency, the Broncos needed someone ready to get touches in the run game. He has some work to do as a receiver, but this is a player ready to contribute immediately.


Round 3, No. 98 overall: Quinn Meinerz, G, Wisconsin-Whitewater

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Quinn Meinerz's NFL draft profile

Check out highlights from Wisconsin-Whitewater C Quinn Meinerz's college career.

My take: The Broncos traded down twice in the round and still came away with quality value in Meinerz. Few players made more of a limited opportunity to show what they could do in the past year than Meinerz. His team's season was cancelled due to the pandemic, but he showed up at the Senior Bowl and consistently dominated the week of practices, showing improved footwork and technique to go with the nastiness and finishing ability scouts knew he already had. He gives the Broncos some developmental depth on the interior of their line where they need it.


Round 3, No. 105 overall: Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State

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Baron Browning's NFL draft profile

Check out highlights from prolific Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning.

My take: Browning was another good value pick for the Broncos. He fills a need and was high on the draft boards of several teams. Some scouts wondered why he didn't consistenly produce more. He played both strong- and weakside linebacker for the Buckeyes and his testing numbers were double-take worthy. At 245 pounds he ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and showed potential in pass coverage -- a need for the Broncos' defense -- and as a spot pass-rusher.


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Caden Sterns' NFL draft profile

Check out the best highlights from Texas S Caden Sterns' college career.

Round 5, No. 152 overall: Caden Sterns, S, Texas

My take: The Broncos went into this draft looking for potential help on special teams, something that hasn't gone well for the team for years. Sterns, with 4.41 speed at 202 pounds, is exactly that kind of player. He had a phenomenal pro day that included that 40 time to go with a 42-inch vertical.

As a safety, he has some rough edges to smooth out, including some struggles finishing tackles in the open field, but this is a physically gifted player whose potential outweighs his college production at the moment.


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Jamar Johnson's NFL draft profile

Check out the best highlights from Indiana S Jamar Johnson's college career.

Round 5, No. 164 overall: Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana

My take: Johnson is another high-value pick for the Broncos -- several personnel evaluators in the league said before the draft that they believed Johnson was worthy of an early Day 2 pick. Johnson was the first Indiana safety to be selected first-team All Big Ten since Eric Allen in 1996. He intercepted Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields twice this past season and is safety who can line up in the slot if needed and could contribute on special teams.


Round 6, No. 219 overall: Seth Williams, WR, Auburn

My take: Williams fits the profile of a Day 3 pick given his athleticism and potential. He did finish his career seventh in Auburn history in career receptions, fourth in career receiving yards and third in career receiving touchdowns despite the Tigers' limited passing attack, but his on-again, off-again performances often left scouts wondering why there wasn't more consistent production. He did, however, often show what he can do in the red zone, where he often won the contested catches. He finished with at least a 16 yards per catch average in two of his seasons.


Round 7, No. 237 overall: Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU

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Kary Vincent Jr.'s NFL draft profile

Check out the best highlights from LSU CB Kary Vincent Jr.'s college career.

My take: Vincent opted out of the 2020 season but had four interceptions for the LSU team that won the national championship in 2019 and has enough to speed to have run on the Tigers' two-time SEC champion 4x100 relay team. He's still raw as a football player but shows the fluidity in his movements that defensive backs coaches believe they can work with. Vincent certainly fits with the Broncos' Day 3 profile, which is to acquire speed for special teams work.


Round 7, No. 239 overall: Jonathon Cooper, DE, Ohio State

My take: Cooper was a two-time captain for the Buckeyes who never quite posted the production many expected when he arrived to Columbus as a highly-touted freshman in 2017. He has flashed power and speed over his 45 career games (25 starts). At 6-foot-2 5/8-inches, 253 pounds, the Broncos may have to decide whether to play him at defensive end or outside linebacker. He is the second Buckeyes player for the Broncos in this draft class. General manager George Paton attended Ohio State's pro day.


Round 7, No. 253 overall: Marquiss Spencer, DE, Mississippi State

My take: A player who started his career at Mississippi State as a linebacker and may end up as an NFL defensive tackle. He played at defensive end for the Bulldogs. He missed the final two games of the 2020 season with an apparent head/neck injury and missed much of the 2018 season with an injury as well. He finished with 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks this past season. After with a redshirt year four games into the 2018 season, Spencer totaled 51 games played in his career, one of the most experienced players on the draft board. He will be a developmental prospect for the Broncos.