The Denver Broncos can build around Drew Lock in 2020, and that includes seeking out a possible QB2 or QB3. Iowa’s Nate Stanley is a strong option.
The Denver Broncos have the luxury of moving into the 2020 offseason knowing their quarterback of the present and future is on the roster.
The last time the Broncos went into an offseason with a returning head coach and quarterback drafted by the team was back in 2007 when Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler were preparing for Cutler’s first year as the full-time starter in the post-Jake Plummer era.
With Drew Lock and the future of the Broncos hopefully in place, the Broncos can now focus on building around their young quarterback, and in my eyes, that involves looking for upgrades at the quarterback position.
Joe Flacco seems likely to be released by the Broncos, who can save $10 million in cap space by letting him go this offseason.
Brandon Allen is a restricted free agent, so the Broncos could bring him back for relatively cheap, but with what we saw from him in limited action, is he the best the Broncos could do?
We don’t know if the team views Brett Rypien as a viable QB2 option going forward, but he certainly could be. I liked him quite a bit coming out of the 2019 NFL Draft and was surprised he went undrafted given his ability to throw the ball accurately to all levels of the field despite average or even below-average arm talent.
With all of that said, I don’t think I’m alone when I say the Broncos should be pursuing their options to upgrade behind Drew Lock on the roster if possible, and one player in the 2020 NFL Draft who would be worth one of the Broncos’ nine (soon to be 12?) selections is Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Nate Stanley.
Stanley has a lot of experience at Iowa, starting 39 games over the last three seasons and leading the Hawkeyes to some really big wins both inside the Big Ten as well as out of conference.
Stanley is not a first-round prospect. He may not even be a day two prospect.
He struggles at times with erratic accuracy on his passes and there have been stretches of his play at Iowa where he looks like a borderline undraftable player.
Then there are games like the many mentioned in the tweet above that indicate Stanely is a big-time gamer, a coach’s dream, and a player who can provide value in more ways than just as a backup quarterback.
More on that in a bit.
Stanley is the ideal fit for the Broncos because so many of the Hawkeyes’ concepts offensively under offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz are similar to what we see in Denver and with other teams like San Francisco. In fact, in watching the Hawkeyes against the USC Trojans in the Holiday Bowl, I couldn’t help but be reminded a number of times of the Broncos and 49ers specifically with all of the pre-snap motion and the way these teams utilize speed at the receiver position pre-snap.
Stanley knows how to run a pro-style offense well, and he has more upside than many NFL Draft fliers at the quarterback position with exceptional size and arm strength.
Like I said before, the accuracy is certainly not always there, but Stanley’s arm strength is undeniable, and he’s not the kind of quarterback who just folds when the play breaks down. He’s a smart young player who is looking to make plays and who can go off-script as needed.
One of the most intriguing things Stanley does well is running the QB sneak play. That seems like such a weird thing to say about a guy, but Iowa actually utilized this play for more than just one-yard-to-go situations. Against USC, we saw them run three straight QB sneaks from the eight-yard line before running it off right tackle for a touchdown at the one.
Stanley averaged almost four yards per quarterback sneak this past season at Iowa, and has always done that exceptionally well. It’s been so successful at Iowa this past season, it has to be viewed as something he could help a team with in the NFL.
The Broncos are already an effective fourth-down team, but adding a player like Stanley who could go in there and convert on those kinds of plays would be another added bonus to having him on the roster.
Despite his issues with accuracy, Stanley’s ability to quickly adapt to Denver’s offense, his arm strength, his rare QB sneak abilities, and his experience against top competition collegiately lead me to believe he will be a tremendous backup QB in the NFL, and who knows? He could develop into a starter one day.
One way or another, he’s the kind of guy I would want to see backing up Drew Lock and I could see the Broncos thinking along similar lines.