The Denver Broncos introduced new general manager George Paton to the media recently, and one of the biggest takeaways from what he had to say was the emphasis he placed on not only drafting and developing but also his philosophy dating back to his days with the Vikings about accumulating picks.
As Paton put it, the more darts you have to throw, the better chance you have of hitting a bullseye.
Over the course of his years with the Vikings, Paton and general manager Rick Spielman certainly didn’t just talk about having more picks, they truly made having a lot of draft picks a priority.
Even just in the last five or six years, the Vikings have had an obscene number of draft selections including a league-high 15 in the 2020 NFL Draft. As a matter of fact, since the league has gone to a seven-round draft format, that is the most picks for any single team ever.
We know Paton is not blowing smoke when he says he wants the philosophy in Denver to be the same as it was in Minnesota — more picks, more shots at hitting on those picks.
So what does that mean for the Denver Broncos in the 2021 NFL Draft? It means there is a decent chance the team trades down. John Elway did not do that often. He traded down off of his first-round spot in the 2012 NFL Draft, traded up in 2015 and 2016, traded back in 2019, and stayed put every other year.
Who knows how he will do it, but the Minnesota Vikings had the most selections in the entire NFL Draft in 2017, 2019, and 2020. It’s clear that Paton’s recent trend (at least, in tandem with Rick Spielman) is to rack up the selections and the Broncos currently have nine.
Which teams make sense for the Broncos to move back and work out some deals with? Let’s take a look.
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft trade down options: San Francisco 49ers
49ers 2021 selection: 12th overall
The Denver Broncos have a history of working with John Lynch and the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, the Broncos’ dealings with the 49ers pre-date the John Lynch era and go back to the Trent Baalke era.
The 49ers are just three spots behind the Broncos in the 2021 NFL Draft order and San Francisco may have interest in the quarterback class of 2021 in case they plan on rolling with Jimmy Garoppolo for one more season, though the feeling right now is that Garoppolo’s 2021 price tag is too high to keep him in San Francisco.
Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see what happens there, but the 49ers should be aggressive because they are a team that, when healthy, has very few actual needs. If there is a player they identify as a perfect fit for them, they could very well go up and get him.
This move up on the trade value chart is worth roughly a third-round pick, which the 49ers do not currently have. To make up for that, San Francisco could overpay a little bit with a fourth-round pick in 2021 and a third-round pick in 2022.