Denver Broncos: John Elway should keep eye on first-round quarterbacks

EUGENE, OREGON - NOVEMBER 16: Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks looks on after the Oregon Ducks defeated the Arizona Wildcats 34-6 during their game at Autzen Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
EUGENE, OREGON - NOVEMBER 16: Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks looks on after the Oregon Ducks defeated the Arizona Wildcats 34-6 during their game at Autzen Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos aren’t in the market for a first-round quarterback in the 2020 NFL draft, but they should be keeping a close eye on their draft stock.

After years of failed attempts at acquiring the quarterback of the future, Broncos general manager John Elway may have actually struck gold in the 2019 NFL draft when selecting Missouri product Drew Lock.

Entering Lock’s sophomore season in the NFL, it appears the Broncos are content with him as the starting quarterback of the franchise. However, despite having the potential franchise quarterback on the roster already, the Broncos should be paying close attention to this year’s crop of potential first-round quarterbacks.

As it stands today, there are two bonafide first-round prospects (graded as first-round players regardless of positional value) at quarterback (Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa). It is seen as a foregone conclusion that those two will hear their names selected within the first five picks of the 2020 NFL draft.

Behind them are Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Utah State’s Jordan Love, Washington’s Jacob Eason, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts.

While each of those quarterbacks has, at one point or another, been linked to the first round, it’s a bit more difficult to gauge exactly where they will wind up come draft time.

Each of those five quarterbacks clearly has talent, but they also come with serious flaws that leave draft analysts skeptical, and in turn, draft evaluations lower. Taking away positional value, there are analysts that have each of those quarterbacks as round two prospects or worse.

And because of this, the Broncos should be paying close attention to where each of these quarterbacks could go.

More specifically, they should be hoping that these quarterbacks go much earlier than what their draft grade would say. With the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft and an abundance of draft talent that could significantly improve certain spots of Denver’s roster, the more quarterbacks that go in the first 14 picks, the better.

If this happens, the Broncos could land an elite-level top-10 player that otherwise, they may not have gotten.

For example, according to draft analyst Benjamin Solak’s big board, he has Burrow ranked second, Tua ranked seventh, Herbert ranked 26th, Fromm ranked 43rd, Love ranked 67th, Eason ranked 79th and Hurts ranked 94th.

It could be argued that the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could all be in the market for a quarterback.

In a perfect world, these teams worry that a quarterback they love might be gone before they get to the second round, especially with the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings, and New Orleans Saints potentially looking for a quarterback at the bottom of the first. They panic and overdraft one of the quarterbacks from the second tier.

This may seem obvious, but every quarterback (a position Denver doesn’t need in the first) selected in the top-14 picks means the greater likelihood of landing a player like Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, or CeeDee Lamb.

Even if the true draft grade might not be there, the positional value of the quarterback position and the constant need and desire to find a quarterback of the future could force general managers to reach.

The likeliest scenario at this point is that we see Herbert and Love both go in the top 14, but the best scenario would include a mix of the remaining three quarterbacks surprisingly get selected in that range as well (also draft Twitter would likely explode if Hurts went top 15, and I would love to be here for that).

For the Broncos, a team that saw two quarterbacks slip away from them in the 2018 NFL Draft despite having the fifth overall pick, they can finally be on the other side of the quarterback draft game.

Elway and company should be silently rooting for teams to snatch up quarterbacks as quickly as they can in the 2020 NFL draft. The more that go, the better chance a player high on their board falls to them just like Bradley Chubb did back in 2018.

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If the run on quarterbacks doesn’t happen, the Broncos might have to trade up to get a player like Henry Ruggs in this year’s draft, which means getting rid of draft capital they otherwise would have been able to hold on to.