Denver Broncos NFL Draft 2021: Should Paton see extra QB pro days?

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Trey Lance. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect Trey Lance. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

In-person interactions have not been as limited in 2021 as they were in 2020 leading up to the NFL Draft, but they have been limited nonetheless. Because of that, could the Denver Broncos and general manager George Paton be interested in the additional pro days for top 2021 NFL Draft quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trey Lance?


The Denver Broncos currently hold the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but that could quickly change if they fall in love with one of these quarterbacks. Reading the tea leaves right now, it’s not difficult to make the argument that the Broncos do like at least one quarterback in this draft, but which one(s)?

Paton has already attended the pro days of Justin Fields (Ohio State), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), and Zach Wilson (BYU). He will not have a shot at drafting Wilson, who is poised to be the second pick in the draft behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.

The third pick in the draft belongs to the San Francisco 49ers, who are supposedly interested in selecting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

If the way things seem to be going as of today — two weeks and change before the 2021 NFL Draft — the Denver Broncos could legitimately have a shot at one (or both) of Fields or Lance.

Because teams are only allowed to send three to pro days this year, the Broncos have had Paton on hand at those QB pro days along with director of scouting Brian Stark as well as quarterbacks coach Mike Shula.

It’s an intriguing group to bring to the pro day because you might expect the head coach or even offensive coordinator to be there, but the Denver Broncos decided instead for their top two guys in the front office (Paton and Stark) as well as their QB coach.

What value would it bring to Paton to go these additional throwing sessions being held by Fields and Lance?

Well, it might benefit him to go and watch with two different people, such as Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmur specifically.

Fangio and Shurmur have undoubtedly spent time watching film on both Fields and Lance, as have Paton, Stark, and Shula, but Paton mentioned early on in the offseason that one of the best ways he evaluates quarterbacks is by getting on the ground and watching them in person.

Although the head coach and offensive coordinator don’t work strictly with the quarterback like QB coach Mike Shula does, both Fangio and Shurmur certainly have part of their future in Denver (and possibly their next stops in the NFL, should it not work out) tied to the player George Paton decides to bring in at the QB position.

These auxiliary pro day throwing sessions are seemingly being done for the San Francisco 49ers, who hold that third overall pick and have their choice between Mac Jones, Fields, and Lance. Other teams are welcome to come because these players and teams can’t hold one-on-one workouts this offseason, but make no mistake about it — Fields and Lance are jockeying with Jones for that third overall spot.

49ers GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan skipped the last Justin Fields pro day to go to Alabama to watch Mac Jones, and they skipped Trey Lance’s first pro day to make sure nobody thought they were working on trading up.

So, is there really that much value in the Denver Broncos having a substantial presence here? If they are seriously considering taking one of these guys, it wouldn’t be a shock to see George Paton try to get out there with Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmur to have them give their takes on how these two young prospects work in person.

At this stage, the Denver Broncos’ 2021 NFL Draft board is likely close to being finalized, if most of it hasn’t already been finalized. The team has filled major needs through free agency, and they are in the final stages of evaluating players they will seriously consider drafting.

These extra QB throwing sessions would require some air miles, but they could be worth it in the long run if Paton sees value in other coaches who haven’t previously been able to do so go and see these young guys in person, get to chat with them for a couple of minutes, and see if they want to ultimately make a move up the board to go and get one.

If you are going to trade up for a guy, you’d better be certain about it. Up to this point, Paton’s work as a general manager has been a collaborative effort with Fangio and the scouting department, and these in-person evaluations could be another part of the puzzle.