Denver Broncos: Darnold, Draft, or Drew Lock at QB in 2021?
The decision facing George Paton is not an easy one.
He has seen the film on Drew Lock and has stated publicly that he thinks Lock has all of the tools you look for at the quarterback position while acknowledging that he also has things to work on.
He has now been through the quarterback pro day circuit and seen the players who might realistically be available to him with the exception of Mac Jones.
Paton has passed on the free agency crop. He has taken a very patient approach to trading for a hedge and has shown no rush to acquire any of Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, or even Sam Darnold (assuming the Jets have even made him available).
The next few weeks and potentially even just days will be telling. If the Broncos go out and make a trade for a Foles or Minshew, I think we would need to wait for the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft to know whether or not he has decided to move forward with Drew Lock as the “Plan A”. Trading for Minshew or Foles would leave the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft on the table.
If he decides to trade for Bridgewater or Garoppolo (if they are available), we’re back into Joe Flacco territory, and that would seemingly indicate that the Broncos wanted to kick the QB can to 2022 or 2023 with little faith in Drew Lock’s development.
If Paton trades for Sam Darnold, I think the writing would be on the wall for Lock. Darnold would be acquired likely with the thought that he would be the team’s QB1 for at least 2021 and 2022.
If Paton doesn’t make a trade prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, I would be shocked if he does not make a play for one of the remaining prospects after pick number three overall.
Right now, it’s hard to know for certain one way or another, but Paton’s willingness to pass on the veteran free agent market at quarterback as well as his willingness to wait out the trade market seems to indicate that he is going to make a play for someone more substantial than a Minshew or Foles, like a Darnold or a top 2021 NFL Draft pick.
Until he actually pulls the trigger on a trade for a guy like Minshew or Foles, the idea that Paton will go after one of Sam Darnold, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance feels highly likely.
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Paton has set up the roster for the quarterback to succeed. He now has to decide which guy — whether it’s Darnold, Drew Lock, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance — can lead the Broncos to prominence in 2021 and beyond.