Denver Broncos Draft rumors 2021: Top candidates to trade up for QB?

Denver Broncos, 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The closer we are to the 2021 NFL Draft (less than three weeks and counting), the more fascinating the Denver Broncos’ quarterback situation becomes.

Up to this point, new general manager George Paton has been consistent with what he’s stated publicly.

  • The Denver Broncos will be “in” on every deal
  • They like Drew Lock and his potential
  • They want to upgrade the QB position and will explore all avenues (FA, Draft, trades)
  • They are open to taking a QB with their top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

The Denver Broncos were “in” on the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes, though ultimately they were not willing to pay the Detroit Lions’ ridiculous asking price (the Rams were).

The Broncos inquired about Sam Darnold’s price tag, and scoffed at it. They have sniffed around a Teddy Bridgewater trade, but they haven’t pulled the trigger.

They didn’t sign any veteran hedge in free agency.

Right now, it’s very clear that the front office actually does like Drew Lock’s potential, but they also are giving themselves a chance to fall in love with some QBs in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

Specifically right now, unless they are trying to veil interest in Mac Jones by passing on literally three opportunities to see him in person (Senior Bowl, two pro days), it seems to be a two-horse race if the Denver Broncos are going to draft a quarterback between Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trey Lance of North Dakota State.

With less than three weeks to go before the 2021 NFL Draft, Paton and other Denver Broncos personnel have seen both Fields and Lance in person at their pro days.

Paton brought along with him director of scouting Brian Stark as well as quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to the QB-specific pro days, as teams are only allowed to bring three personnel members to watch the events this year.

It will be fascinating to see if Paton or anyone else on the Denver Broncos’ staff will attend the recently scheduled second pro days for both Fields and Lance.

According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the Denver Broncos are considered among the “top candidates” to trade up for one of these quarterbacks.

If you’ve been following along to the chain of events, the likelihood of this happening has seemingly increased in recent weeks. You could interpret George Paton’s lack of action at the QB position up to this point as faith in Drew Lock, but the fact that he is attending quarterback pro days indicates that he was not 100 percent sold on Lock versus these prospects, at least not without getting an in-person look at them.

Earlier in the week, James Palmer of NFL Network talked about the fallout of the Sam Darnold trade as it relates to the Denver Broncos as well.

Palmer says they are “active and involved” in the quarterback market but at this point, the primary options out there would be Teddy Bridgewater (with a high cap number), Gardner Minshew, and maybe Nick Foles.

Palmer said of the Denver Broncos in the 2021 NFL Draft,

"I wouldn’t be surprised if the one that they love falls towards them that George Paton tries to make an aggressive move moving forward because my understanding is they don’t feel that all of the quarterbacks that could potentially fall towards them are a proper fit for the Broncos.James Palmer, NFL Network"

Palmer’s report makes it sound like there is player at the quarterback position that the Denver Broncos love, which intensifies the intrigue here.

The Atlanta Falcons (picking 4th) have made it known their pick is up for sale at the right price. If the Denver Broncos love a quarterback and know that he’s going to be sitting there at that pick, they could make a move to get up there in the near future.