NFL Scouting Combine: Broncos should be looking at QBs

Jan 2, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

2016 NFL Scouting Combine: What quarterbacks will have the eyes of the Denver Broncos and general manager John Elway?

Forget about Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, because they’ll be long gone, but every other quarterback in this draft should be fair game for the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Will the Broncos use a first round pick on a quarterback? Not likely, but you never know what is going to happen given the situation this offseason with both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. Even if Osweiler is retained, John Elway made it clear he was not going to pay a ridiculous amount of money for him.

Elway said that Osweiler was basically going to be offered a fair deal that wasn’t his ‘biggest’ contract which leads me to believe it won’t be his longest either, and the Broncos are going to have to have a contingency plan anyway since Osweiler has only got six starts of NFL experience.

There are a lot of guys that have all the physical tools in this class but aren’t getting first round hype for varying reasons, not the least of which is inconsistency. There are plenty of athletic players I would love to see at the QB position in Gary Kubiak’s offense, but at what point do you justify pulling the trigger?

With not many ‘pressing’ needs, I could see the Broncos pull the trigger in the 1st round if the right guy falls, but it wouldn’t shock me to see a quarterback selected anywhere from the second round on. Here are some guys I like, and why I like them…

1. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (6-4, 223)

Hackenberg seems to be a ‘love vs. hate’ QB in this draft class. So many (like me) want to fall in love with the guy who was hailed as the next Andrew Luck four years ago coming out of high school when he picked Penn State and became a freshman phenom throwing footballs to a Pro Bowl NFL receiver in Allen Robinson, who is tearing it up for the Jaguars.

When Robinson left — along with a number of veteran seniors on the offensive line — so did the Bill O’Brien coaching staff and basically all of the stability that Hackenberg had as a young player. He was sacked often in his final two collegiate seasons, and that’s putting it kindly. The offense was horrible for him, and that’s putting it kindly.

There are always excuses that you can make for a young QB, but in Hackenberg’s case, I think they are pretty justifiable.

Hackenberg ran a 4.79 in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, showing off some nice athletic ability. We know the physical tools are all there with Hackenberg at 6-4, 223 pounds and running that quick. We know the arm is there, and we know this is a competitive guy who loves the game of football.

As Mike Mayock stated in NFL Network’s coverage of the Combine, there’s some team out there that needs to piece him back together. I would love to see that team be the Broncos.

2. Cardale Jones, Ohio State (6-5, 253)

Cardale Jones is a big bodied QB who has a rocket launcher of an arm, and he can make plays with his legs. The problem? Like I mentioned before — consistency. Jones couldn’t find the right consistency on his accuracy passing the football in his first full year as the starter at Ohio State, and an injury paved the way for his benching for J.T. Barrett.

I think Jones’ best days could be ahead of him if he works at it, but he’s also an older rookie who will likely fall to the fourth or fifth round unless some team is reaching.

I think physically and athletically he has all the skills you’d like to see in the Kubiak offense — movement skills, big arm to stretch the field, but how can he win in the intermediate game? Can his body take a beating with his running style?

There are a variety of questions surrounding Jones, but in the middle rounds, I would be really intrigued by him being picked by the Broncos.

3. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (6-2, 226)

There have been reports this offseason already that the Broncos are ‘enamored’ by Prescott, and rightfully so. Athletically gifted, great size, and a whale of a senior season in terms of improved accuracy on passes and TD/INT ratio — he deserves some extra attention.

The Broncos — like all the other teams in the league — will find accuracy issues on tape but like I said, it was vastly improved in 2015 as Prescott saw career highs in completion percentage and touchdown to turnover ratio. A veteran college player who takes care of the football and runs the ball well?

I don’t think he’s Russell Wilson, but we saw a similar trajectory of his college career when Wilson struggled with a low completion percentage while a member of the N.C. State football team, and then a huge senior season where he took care of the ball and appeared to just ‘get it’.

I remember saying that Wilson would have been a top five pick if he were three inches taller, and I stand by that analysis. Prescott doesn’t have the height issue, the weight issue, or any of that, but there are questions about him mechanically that teams might shy away until the middle rounds.

In this offense, he’s an interesting project.

There are a number of other quarterbacks in this draft that intrigue me, but those are three guys that currently stand out.