Category 1: The “Blue Chip” Prospects
Players: Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch
Explanation: The certified “1st round” prospects at the QB position, Wentz, Goff and Lynch all offer intriguing and appealing skill sets that if developed properly, could reap big rewards for the team that drafts them. Although they all have 1st round grades by the majority of Draft analysts, the three vary in their skill sets.
Player: Carson Wentz
Draft Projection: Top 5 pick
Carson Wentz is considered to be the best overall prospect at the position. Despite being a starter for just under two seasons at North Dakota State (Yes, you read that correctly. What a crazy world we live in), Wentz led the Bison
to two consecutive FCS national titles and displayed the traits that NFL teams salivate over in the process.
Measuring in at 6’5, 237 lbs, Wentz possesses the ideal size and build necessary to handle the brutal poundings he’ll take at the pro level. What’s even more impressive is his athleticism and mobility for a QB his size.
Wentz routinely used his legs to extend the plays beyond the pocket and occasionally, he ran to make the play himself. While he wouldn’t be considered a “scrambler” at the NFL level, he definitely has the mobility to extend plays.
To summarize, Wentz “has it all” as a prospect. The size, arm, leadership skills, experience, winning attitude and athleticism are all there. The only thing that is questionable for his transition to the NFL is the level of competition.
Despite playing at a high level in the FCS, it’s not exactly a hotbed of competition from higher end programs. That’s not to say that he can’t succeed in the pros (just ask Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger), but it may be a bit of an adjustment for him his rookie year.
As for the Broncos, I’m sure they love what they see in Wentz and would love to get him. Unfortunately, Wentz appears to have cemented himself as a top 5 pick in the draft and it’s nearly impossible to think that Elway and Co. could pull off a trade that massive to get Wentz. We’ll see what happens, but at this point, he’s expected to be the first QB off the board and a probable top 5 pick.
Player: Jared Goff
Draft Projection: Top 15 pick
Unlike Wentz, Goff played in an extremely competitive conference in the Pac-12 and in his three years as a starters for the Bears, lit up the score boards in their attacking spread offense. Many analysts are calling Goff the best “natural passer” in the draft and it’s easy to see why. He threw for a couple of miles over his time at Cal and led a highly productive offense in the process. At 6’4 and 215
lbs, he has the height for the position but some coaches may want him to bulk up a bit before he takes significant snaps in the pros.
NFL analyst Mike Mayock called him the “most polished QB” in the draft. Aside from what I mentioned above, Goff can best be described as a guy that can do everything well, but isn’t great in one particular area. Decent size, decent arm, decent athleticism, etc… Until recently, there was a bit of a debate between Goff and Wentz as to who would be the best NFL player.
Goff is considered to be the more “pro ready” of the two, but may not have as high of a ceiling for potential. Wentz, on the other hand, is considered to be more talented but his level of college competition may cause a longer learning curve at the NFL level.
Regardless, I expect Goff to be picked in the top half of the 1st round in the draft and should be an above average to good NFL QB for many years to come. In regards to Denver, it will be interesting to see where Goff goes.
If he goes in his projected area, then I don’t see the Broncos considering him. If he falls to the late teens-early twenties though, that could pose an interesting proposition for the Broncos. Depending on how much they like him, they may be willing to trade up in that scenario. We’ll see how it plays out on draft day, but at this time, I expect him to be taken well before the Broncos are able to get him.
Player: Paxton Lynch
Draft Projection: Mid-to-Late 1st round
Lynch fascinates me. Let’s put it this way, who better to replace Osweiler with than a younger, more athletic clone of him? In a nutshell, that’s what Lynch is. Although he is raw like Osweiler was coming out of Arizona State, Lynch boasts the towering size (6’7, 244 lbs), great arm talent, athleticism and pocket presence necessary to succeed at the NFL level.
Like I mentioned above, Lynch is a surprisingly good athlete for his size and would be a great fit in a Gary Kubiak offense. The first play in the video below demonstrates Lynch’s arm strength and ability to get out of the pocket and set his feet to make the play, a typical move in a Kubiak offense.
With 39 career starts and flashes of big time play, Lynch possesses the skill set that could set the NFL on fire (if he goes to the right team). There are downsides to his game at this time, though. Despite the nearly 40 games of college experience, he didn’t play in an offense that translates well to the pro game and because of that, his mechanics will need some refinement.
Despite the setbacks, I’m really growing fond of a Lynch as a prospect and he’s definitely in play for the Broncos towards the end of the 1st round. According to Dan Parr of NFL.com, the Broncos have shown interest in him by calling his high school coach back in the fall to get more info on the QB. I’m sure they’ve done more research on him since that call.
If you ask me, he may be the most realistic target for the Broncos when it comes to draft range and upside. I don’t know if he’ll be ready to be the day one starter, but I’d have to think that if he gets within the Broncos draft range, they’ll consider a trade up for Lynch like they did for Shane Ray last year. If they can get Lynch and develop him properly, then there’s no doubt that Lynch will become the long term answer at the position that the organization has been seeking since John Elway retired.
Next: The Mid Tier Guys