Denver Broncos draft rumors: Chances of QB in first round going down?

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Justin Fields. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft: Justin Fields. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos could be in the market for a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, or they might not be at all. Don’t you love this time of year?

New general manager George Paton has seen the tape of Drew Lock. He has come out publicly to say that the team likes Lock and his potential still, despite Lock’s struggles in 2020 and despite also wanting to bring in “competition” at the position.

Lock was not guaranteed the week one starting job by Paton at his recent pre-draft press conference, nor should he have been. The Denver Broncos gave Lock the keys to the proverbial car in 2020 and Lock did not perform up to the standards he needed or wanted to in order to have that same luxury in 2021.

Despite Lock’s struggles, the Denver Broncos obviously still believe there could be something there, even if competition is what extracts it.

Could that competition come in the form of a rookie quarterback? That is very possible. There’s no doubt that the possibility of Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or even Mac Jones would be enticing for the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

There’s also no guarantee they would take one of them if given the opportunity.

In fact, the only real legitimate trade-up buzz that anyone has heard lately is that the Broncos might trade up for Mac Jones if he falls past the third pick with the 49ers.

If the 49ers take Trey Lance, we’ll see what happens.

If the 49ers go with Jones as many still expect, the Broncos might be stronger candidates to trade down than take one of Justin Fields or Trey Lance if either is still on the board with the 9th overall selection.

These two tweets came about within about 15 minutes of each other, and while George Paton has kept things pretty tight-lipped this offseason, he’s also been very direct about his plans and intentions.

Paton seems to be keeping an open mind and none of the quarterbacks that could be available after the third overall pick should be considered no-brainer selections for the Broncos if they are on the board at pick 9 overall.

Perhaps the Broncos are leaking this information now so that teams do not feel the need to be aggressive and move up ahead of them.

It seems like Paton is being genuine when he says that he and the team “like” Drew Lock’s potential. It also seems like he’s telling the truth when he says that there are other ways to acquire quarterbacks like trades, where he could potentially land a guy he knows well in Teddy Bridgewater (a former first-round pick of Paton’s Vikings).

Paton’s preferred method has been to accumulate more selections in the draft, and that can be accomplished by moving down. Maybe even more than taking one of the quarterbacks that are left, that could be Paton’s top motivation.

That’s what I have them doing in my latest mock draft scenario.

The Denver Broncos could get some really good bang for their buck by trading back from nine overall and getting someone like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, arguably my favorite trade-down target in this class for them. They could also have taken a significant liking to Penn State’s Micah Parsons.

Many fans would be livid at Paton and the front office for passing on quarterbacks, even more so in a few years if someone they pass on turns out to be a star. That’s a risk, no doubt, but anyone in the NFL Draft is and the Broncos might feel better about their future with Lock and an established starter than taking a shot on Trey Lance or Justin Fields, both of whom present plenty of risk as potential selections.

We only have a couple more days to find out what Paton and the Denver Broncos are actually plotting in the war room.