The Broncos have a really unique situation in front of them in 2019.
There are currently 20 teams on pace for eight or more losses (meaning they had four losses or more at the halfway point of the season) and just eight teams with six or more losses, including the Broncos.
If the season ended today the Broncos would have the eighth overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Many of the same teams that picked in the top 10 of the NFL Draft in 2018 — or got their quarterback of the future — are back this season.
The teams ahead of the Broncos in the draft order (starting from the top) are the Giants, Raiders, 49ers, Bills, Cardinals, Browns, and Jets.
Obviously, the quarterback situations on all but two of those teams are figured out for the immediate future. The Giants could look to move on from Eli Manning at season’s end and there’s no guarantee that Derek Carr will be a member of the Raiders when they make their move to Las Vegas.
The Giants seem like a team that would be interested in taking a quarterback, but the Raiders will probably stick with Carr and focus on the best pass rusher available.
The Giants passed on all quarterback prospects in 2018 except for Baker Mayfield, so the question here would be whether or not they would rate Justin Herbert or potentially Dwayne Haskins as a better prospect than Darnold.
That’s highly unlikely.
Even so, the Giants should not be discounted as a threat to take a quarterback in 2019 but they may be the only realistic competition the Broncos would have for Justin Herbert if he even declares himself eligible.
The way I see it, the Broncos have a few options that would make sense in the 2019 NFL Draft, including finding a way to get Herbert in the first round. If he isn’t the number one overall pick, there’s plenty of precedence for teams moving up to acquire the rights to draft a quarterback.
If the Broncos aren’t in a position to just take him where they are slotted, they can move up in the draft order and get Herbert, or they can sit back and wait to draft a quarterback until later.
There are other quarterbacks who have potential starter qualities in the 2019 draft class, and a few in particular who could be solid developmental players for the Broncos like Will Grier of West Virginia, Jordan Ta’amu of Ole Miss, Drew Lock of Missouri, Ryan Finley of North Carolina State, and a late bloomer and riser on draft boards in Daniel Jones of Duke.
At the very worst, the Broncos should look to spend a pick in the draft on a quarterback to identify a player they can develop in the same way the Redskins did with Kirk Cousins in 2012.
Cousins was not drafted to be the starter, but he had starting caliber qualities and was a hard worker/great leader in college at Michigan State. If even just to develop a strong backup, the Broncos should identify someone in the 2019 class they can grow on their own.
Case Keenum is not likely to go anywhere after this season as the Broncos are on the hook for no less than $10 million in dead money if they cut or trade him. Therefore, the team is under no obligation to draft his successor in round one of next year’s draft, which will be loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball, especially on the line.
The Broncos could get another difference maker to put between Von Miller and Bradley Chubb and still get a decent quarterback prospect later on without having to trade the farm for Herbert.
Supply and demand always dictate movement at the quarterback position. The Broncos will not be facing up against a high demand league-wide for quarterbacks in 2019 but there also isn’t an abundance of players available either in the draft or free agency.
There’s no need to make a panic move in 2019.