Broncos GM George Paton will get up close look at Zach Wilson

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Zach Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Zach Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Denver Broncos general manager George Paton is not going to go into the 2021 NFL Draft with an uninformed opinion of any top quarterback prospects.

After going with director of scouting Brian Stark and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to see Trey Lance throw at North Dakota State’s Pro Day, Paton has been making the rounds on some other recent pro days including South Carolina and Penn State, and will now make his way to Provo, Utah for the pro day of potential top-three pick Zach Wilson.

Wilson has been dubbed the QB1 by a number of NFL and NFL Draft pundits, though those rankings are the minority with Trevor Lawrence of Clemson widely expected to go first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Paton did not attend Lawrence’s pro day at Clemson in case that’s ever part of a trivia question, but it also shows that the Broncos’ new GM knows he has no shot at getting him, either.

Zach Wilson, on the other hand? That might be a possibility for the right price.

The New York Jets have been an interesting team to monitor this offseason. There have been rumors that they could trade their incumbent starting quarterback Sam Darnold for the right price, but there have also been rumors that they might like to keep Darnold for a fourth season and see if he can be a fit for new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system.

If the Jets are not planning on taking a quarterback with the second overall pick, they could trade that pick for a bounty of picks or they could take the best non-QB on the board and leave the trade frenzy for the Miami Dolphins or Atlanta Falcons behind them.

George Paton has stated that the Broncos “have a plan” at the quarterback position to add depth and/or competition behind/with Drew Lock. That plan, up to this point, has not been via free agency, so we can cross that off the list unless someone is surprisingly cut that Paton and the Broncos know about.

Although they could be staying put with the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and taking a QB there, the Broncos’ top option to upgrade at the position will likely come via trade.

Whether that means they will be trading up in the 2021 NFL Draft or trading for someone already in the league like a Gardner Minshew or Nick Foles remains to be seen.

Either way, if Paton wants to draft Zach Wilson, he will have to trade up to do it, provided the New York Jets don’t want to take him themselves. Obviously, with whatever intel Paton has gathered, he believes there’s a chance — slight or not — the Jets won’t take him.

Because of that, he is making sure this base is covered. Paton has talked about his preference for evaluating quarterbacks in person, and this is the only chance he’s going to have to see Zach Wilson perform in person between now and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Watching Wilson work might not be all that different than watching Drew Lock work from a stylistic standpoint, but each guy is unique in their own ways.

Wilson exploded this past season at BYU with over 73 percent completion rate, 33 touchdowns, only three interceptions, and another 10 rushing touchdowns. He’s an impact player with a huge arm and an effortless way about him.

Comparing guys to Patrick Mahomes seems like a bunch of over-hype or hyperbole, but watching Wilson play at BYU really did remind me of Mahomes at Texas Tech with the way he makes plays on the move, changes arm angles, and can get the ball downfield accurately with just the flick of his wrist.

And once again, there are some who have him as this year’s QB1 over Trevor Lawrence, though both players are quite different stylistically.

After Wilson’s pro day, the Broncos and Paton, specifically, will likely have next week’s Ohio State and Alabama pro days on the radar.