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Mile High Morning: Mel Kiper Jr. goes all in on defense for Denver in his first two-round mock draft


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A year ago, the Broncos made a significant investment on offense during the 2020 NFL Draft and free-agency period.

Weeks after signing guard Graham Glasgow and running back Melvin Gordon III, they drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler with their first two picks and then added center Lloyd Cushenberry III in the third round.

Though a season-ending injury to wideout Courtland Sutton and an up-and-down season from quarterback Drew Lock hampered the offense's performance, the Broncos enter 2021 with a young collection of great talent on offense.

In 2021, the other side of the ball could feel the love. Denver's additions in free agency were mostly on defense, as they signed cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. And with a defense largely loaded with veterans, the Broncos could add some of the most talented defensive players in the draft to bolster the defense while keeping an eye to the future.

That kind of thinking might be what ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has in mind, as he projects Denver to draft a linebacker and cornerback with their first two picks in his newest mock draft.

First off the board for the Broncos is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who Kiper calls "the best off-ball 'backer in this class." A quarterback is still available, but Kiper says he believes that Lock deserves another season to see if he can turn potential into production.

"The defense must get some help, though," Kiper wrote, "and Parsons would be an upgrade at inside linebacker."

The defense gets even more help in the second round, too, as Kiper projects Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph to Denver.

"Yes, Denver signed Ronald Darby and reunited Kyle Fuller with Vic Fangio, his defensive coordinator in Chicago, but that's only a one-year deal," Kiper wrote. "Cornerback is still a position the Broncos should target in the first two rounds."

Below the Fold's Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't quite see it the same way. In his second mock draft, the former running back has Denver trading down to No. 19 and then picking Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield. "The Broncos already have the weapons around Drew Lock," Jones-Drew wrote. "Now they draft Mayfield to give them two bookend tackles, having locked up Garett Bolles late last year."

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