Broncos: Why George Paton trading up for QB seems more likely

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft, Justin Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft, Justin Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Denver Broncos, Mac Jones
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Mac Jones; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Other possible 1st-round directions

If the Broncos don’t go with a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, what direction are they going to go?

With the team signing two big-time veterans at cornerback in Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller along with re-signing Justin Simmons and paying Shelby Harris (as well as picking up Von Miller’s contract option), what position are you going with that 9th overall pick that makes sense?

The offensive tackle position could make some sense if the Broncos are just done with Ja’Wuan James, but there’s been no indication of that to this point and actually, the team has said the opposite publicly.

The Broncos could trade down and take a safety or linebacker who could contribute year one, no question about it, but would they pass on a chance at a possible franchise QB for that scenario?

It all depends on what they really think about Drew Lock behind closed doors. Publicly, the Broncos have been both complimentary and critical of Lock. They have talked like they believe he can take the next step and be a long-term option at QB for them, but they have not simply brushed Lock’s struggles and inconsistency under the rug, either.

What happens if you bring in an average or below average hedge at QB in 2021, you can’t trade for a player like Watson or Russell Wilson, and Lock doesn’t take that step forward?

Then, you are back at the drawing board for quarterback in 2022 when you could have already taken that step in 2021.

Again, the team’s honest opinion of Drew Lock is of the utmost importance here. If they are willing to bank the immediate and long-term future on Lock taking that next step, then there’s no reason to take a quarterback in round one.

The thing is, you could just as easily read into the Broncos’ lack of involvement on free agent quarterbacks as a vote of confidence in Lock if their guy in the draft (or via trade) is not available. In that case, you would have to wonder if George Paton has a “guy” at quarterback in this class that he loves, would he be okay not trading up for him or would he feel a need to be aggressive and go get him?

It all comes down to his convictions on Lock.

If they aren’t as confident in Lock taking a step as they are in one of these QB prospects becoming “the guy”, then all bets are off.