Broncos GM George Paton not in attendance at 2021 Senior Bowl

Denver Broncos 2021 Senior Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos 2021 Senior Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos have a new general manager in George Paton, but other than the work he’s done historically with Rick Spielman and the Minnesota Vikings, no one really knows what to expect from his style of team building.

At this time of year, front office executives, coaches, scouts, and plenty of other personnel members for NFL franchises typically descend upon Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. Although he was on the fence about attending a short time ago, the new Broncos GM decided to send a number of scouts instead of attending the week-long event personally.

I can’t recall a time when John Elway did not attend the Senior Bowl in his tenure as the top decision-maker for the Denver Broncos, but it has not been atypical of head coach Vic Fangio to not be in attendance.

In fact, in his first three seasons as Denver Broncos’ head coach, Fangio has stuck to a philosophy of using this time to meet with the coaching staff in Denver as opposed to spending the week evaluating prospects at the Senior Bowl. He has not attended the event in three offseasons on the job as Broncos head coach.

It may be a bit more “normal” in 2021 because of the way things are in the world right now, but how typical is it for teams to only send scouts to Mobile to watch the Senior Bowl? Scouts obviously have major input in the NFL Draft process, but general managers and other key decision-makers certainly like to have these kinds of hands-on experiences in the evaluation process.

Factoring in that there is no traditional Scouting Combine in 2021 and teams are not allowed pre-draft visits in person with prospects, it’s all the more intriguing that none of the Broncos’ biggest decision-makers are at the Senior Bowl.

What could be the reason for it? If George Paton were considering using his most valuable capital in the 2021 NFL Draft on the guys in Mobile, you would think he would want to be there to get some face time with at least a handful of them.

Teams will have the ability to do Zoom interviews as they did last year, but with the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Paton’s absence speaks to the fact that there may not be a player in Mobile that Denver sees as a fit with that particular selection.

Or perhaps he’s staying in Denver with the coaching staff and the rest of the front office because the team is more focused presently on pro personnel.

Specifically, there is no more important and pressing decision facing the Denver Broncos than the quarterback position. With the Detroit Lions putting Matthew Stafford out there on the trade block, the clock is officially ticking for the Denver Broncos and any other quarterback-needy team.

Since the Broncos have to truly consider all options — including sticking with Drew Lock — the front office (Paton) and the coaching staff have to be on the same page when it comes to the quarterback position. The entire offseason will be run a specific way depending on what the Broncos do at quarterback.

Unless the Broncos identify a can’t miss player at quarterback or another critical position (cornerback, offensive tackle) with that 9th overall pick, it should be on the market whether they are trying to trade down or trade for someone like Matthew Stafford.

Things with Stafford could materialize quickly. Whether the Broncos are the team that trades for him or not, it will set off a chain reaction of moves around the rest of the league and at this point in time, there is just a huge variety of options to consider.