It’s not a secret that new Denver Broncos general manager George Paton is looking for an upgrade at quarterback over Drew Lock. Denver was linked to Matthew Stafford ahead of his trade to the Los Angeles Rams and had interest in Deshaun Watson before multiple sexual assault allegations became public record.
After striking out on quarterback options leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos are looking to find a long-term solution in the first round of the annual event.
There’s a chance that they look to move up from the ninth pick for one of the top-four quarterbacks. Denver could stand pat and hope that one of the five guaranteed first-round quarterbacks falls on to their laps. The team could also trade down in an attempt to get a gem later in the first round.
What we do know is that oddsmakers now have the Denver Broncos taking a quarterback in the opening round later this month. DraftKings has quarterback as the favorite at -143 followed by offensive line at +400. This is a major difference. And it leads us to believe that this is the direction Paton and Co. will go. Below, we rank the top-three options for Denver.
Denver Broncos trade up for Justin Fields or Trey Lance
As of right now, it’s a near lock that Trevor Lawrence will go No. 1 and Zach Wilson will be the second quarterback off the board to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively. It’s what the 49ers plan to do at three after pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins that is the talk of the NFL Draft.
It continues to be suggested by the national media that San Francisco is targeting Alabama’s Mac Jones at three. If that does come to fruition, the Atlanta Falcons will be in a great position to trade down from the fourth selection with Denver being an optimal partner. Denver would give up Drew Lock, its third-round pick in 2021 and a first-round selection in 2022 under this scenario.
The question would then become who Denver selects with the fourth pick. Fields is seen as an absolutely dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a cannon of an arm. Meanwhile, Lance might boast the most upside of any quarterback in the draft after dominating lesser competition at North Dakota State. Whoever the Broncos target here, it would be a franchise-altering trade for Paton and Co.
Denver Broncos roll the dice, stay at nine
At this point, it seems to be likely that one of the top-five quarterbacks will be on the board when Denver is slated to pick ninth. Of course, things can change dramatically should other quarterback-needy franchises such as the New England Patriots, Washington Football Team or Chicago Bears move up for a signal caller.
That’s what we’d call rolling the dice. Perhaps, some of the narrative surrounding Fields continues to draft day and he drops to the Broncos. That would be a major win. Heck, there’s a chance that Paton is intrigued by a more prototypical signal caller in Mac Jones. He could be available at nine. It would be a risk, but the Broncos could then potentially look to trade down if one of the top quarterbacks is not on the board.
Denver Broncos trade down, land hidden gem
Speaking of trading down, there’s two other quarterbacks getting late first-round buzz leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft. That list includes Kellen Mond from Texas A&M and Florida’s Kyle Trask. Denver could be in a good position at nine if five quarterbacks are off the board before it picks. That would mean other teams in need of wide receiver help or upgrades on defense might come calling.
This scenario includes Denver moving down multiple times to the bottom of Round 1, picking up a ton of draft pick assets in the process. It rolls with Lock next season and finds a potential heir-apparent should the former second-round pick see his struggles continue into Year 3.