Denver Broncos: George Paton wouldn’t pass on Fields, Jones at 9?

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 2021 NFL Draft is now less than two full days away, which is incredible to think about in and of itself. The Denver Broncos will have at least one new player 48 hours from now, we’ll see about the possibility of new GM George Paton getting aggressive and moving up for two.

It’s fascinating to think about the possibilities for the Denver Broncos at this point in time, but so much of the focus of discussion in recent weeks has centered around the quarterback position, and rightfully so.

Drew Lock did not play up to standards in 2020. There are reasons for that beyond just Lock playing poorly, so understandably, opinions among Broncos Country are relatively split about what the team should do with him going forward.

Although the loudest voices seem to be in opposition to giving Lock more time to develop, many around the team and others around the league still believe in Lock’s potential. One of the people who has been public about his belief in Lock’s potential is the man in charge of making the selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, general manager George Paton.

Paton has acknowledged that Lock is not guaranteed to be the week one starter, but he’s also stated that the team likes Lock. The Denver Broncos understand what many fans who seem to have a one-track mind do not:

There is nothing wrong with keeping Drew Lock as well as drafting someone in 2021.

As I laid out in this post specifically about North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, there are many benefits to drafting a quarterback high in 2021 even though it would come at the expense of taking potentially another prospect that could play immediately.

Actually, the interesting thing about where the Denver Broncos are selecting at number 9 overall is that whatever player they select is likely to have to play in rotation or sit for a bit before starting. Chew on that one for a second.

The reasons for drafting Trey Lance also apply to Justin Fields, or even Mac Jones for that matter. While the latter is expected to be off the board by pick no. 3 overall (49ers), there is a chance that Fields could be there when the Denver Broncos are on the clock at 9.

Would they pass on Fields?

Denver Broncos insider Mike Klis says he doesn’t think so.

Even for the strongest supporters of Drew Lock, the idea of drafting Justin Fields is massively beneficial to the Denver Broncos on the whole.

Fields is probably a better prospect than anyone who will be entering the 2022 NFL Draft class, which would give the Broncos a huge bargaining chip in a trade if Drew Lock were to come out and play incredibly well this season.

If Lock doesn’t play well, the Broncos could insert Fields into the lineup as soon as they’re ready to do so, and they could move on to the future there.

When you’re not certain about your quarterback and you have the opportunity to add a potential star at the position? It’s bad practice to pass on that in general. The Broncos could very well do that, and they could justify it by reinforcing their belief in Drew Lock.

To this point, however, George Paton has done anything but give Lock the keys to the car, despite having a positive attitude toward the young quarterback. The Denver Broncos are competing to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and QBs are currency.

If Lock plays well, the Denver Broncos win and you have a very valuable trade piece next offseason. If Lock doesn’t play well, you’ve got an elite prospect waiting in the wings. If that prospect doesn’t play well, it wasn’t a bad idea to take him anyway.

The Denver Broncos don’t have any real no-brainer alternatives with the 9th overall selection. The return on investment, if they are to select a quarterback, would be tremendous no matter what.