The way Aqib Talib sees it, the Broncos may have two options in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft — to trade up for a top quarterback or to complete their defense — but really, he sees only one realistic choice.
To fulfill their defensive potential, Talib told Steve Atwater in the most recent episode of “Broncos Weekend,” the Broncos should draft Penn State inside linebacker Micah Parsons.
"I say if they stay at nine, you complete that defense," Talib said. "You just go Parsons right in the middle. I add that linebacker right there to that defense. Because I feel like if I don't get one of the top — really the top three [quarterbacks] — if I don't get [Justin] Fields, [Zach] Wilson or [Trevor] Lawrence, then I don't want to trade up and get them other guys. I'm riding with them three guys. My organization is going to be good with those three guys, so if I can't trade up and get those guys, then I might stay put where I'm at, try to get Parsons, put me a playmaker in the middle. Now I've got a playmaker at every level, you know what I'm saying? A couple of 'em up front, a couple of 'em on the back end."
In his view, Denver may have the chance to move up to draft a quarterback like Alabama's Mac Jones, but Talib's preference is to improve the team's quarterback play via other avenues.
"I'd go that route," Talib said. "I'll win it with D and I still just know I've got to address this quarterback situation — or Drew Lock, he gotta come on. You gotta pick it up."
In the meantime, his version of the draft would solidify an already-stacked defense.
In the initial wave of free agency, Denver re-signed safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson and defensive end Shelby Harris, exercised the 2021 season option on Von Miller's contract, and added cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby to revitalize the secondary. Talib, who called a few NFL games in 2020 as color commentator for FOX, was impressed by Denver's new additions.
"I called one of Darby's games last year, so I got a chance to study his game," Talib said. "And to see Fuller, man, he makes so many plays on the football. You can't help but notice him, right? Super physical, and he's back comfortable in this style of defense. He didn't really have to switch what he's doing; he already knows the system. Darby and them's defense is similar to this, too. It's a lot of Cover 3 where he played in Washington, a lot of three-deep, off-man stuff like that. So I think they're in a good system. It's a good time in both of their careers. They're both coming into them prime years, them five-through-nine [career seasons] — I call them prime years — when the game slows down for you, you're still real explosive, you're as strong as you're probably gonna be. And the game is just super slow for you, five through nine, in my opinion.
"So, man, they got them guys in a good point in they career, so they definitely — if Von [Miller] and [Bradley] Chubb get it going, they've got some guys who can make some plays on the outside for sure."
Below the Fold
ESPN's Jeff Legwold took a closer look at General Manager George Paton’s first free-agency period with the Broncos to assess Paton's goals on defense and at quarterback. "His approach to free agency over the long haul remains to be seen," Legwold wrote, "but his first foray as the guy in charge of the checkbook did give a glimpse of what he thought about of the roster he inherited."