Denver Broncos mailbag: The plan at quarterback in 2022 and beyond, plus more
The Denver Broncos had very few holes on their roster heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. However, their long-term future has some question marks.
Fans of the Broncos have their opinions and questions regarding the team. I decided to ask them to tell me what is on their mind and what they wanted to know about the team.
Unsurprisingly, there were a couple of questions regarding the quarterback position. That is where we will start.
Thank you, Broncos Country, for allowing me to put my thoughts into words. Enjoy!
What is the plan at quarterback in 2022?
The Denver Broncos are going to find out whether or not Drew Lock is the answer at the quarterback position. While they did trade for Teddy Bridgewater, I believe their plan was just to push Lock.
Will Lock take a major step forward like Josh Allen did? That appears to be the biggest comparison.
The Aaron Rodgers situation is something to keep an eye on. While the Packers say they are not trading the future Hall of Fame quarterback, it has been proven time and time again in the NFL that just because you say something, does not mean it will be the case.
Odds appear to be in the Broncos’ favor when it comes to Rodgers. It appears he has four options: Staying in Green Bay, heading to the Broncos, going to Vegas to play for the Raiders, or move on to his next career — being the host of ‘Jeopardy.’
Did the Aaron Rogers trade situation play a role in the Broncos not taking a quarterback?
If there is one thing that has been clear about George Paton, it is that he doesn’t let anything slip that he doesn’t want out there.
During the team’s post-draft press conference which featured Paton and Vic Fangio, Paton said something that is not a surprise: They were focused on the draft.
The thing is that Rodgers is a member of the Packers right now and neither Paton nor any other member of any team can really say a whole lot regarding the quarterback right now. That would be tampering.
We still could see a move for Rodgers at some point. Paton has shown that he’s focused on making this team better and adding Rodgers would be smart, but it would come at a hefty price.
If the Denver Broncos truly loved a quarterback in this class, they would have taken one. Justin Fields and Mac Jones were available in the first round but the team passed on both of them.
Were they hoping Trey Lance was not going to be the pick by the 49ers? Who knows.
Who was your favorite draft pick?
At first glance, this draft class has a lot of potential. I have been a huge fan of North Carolina running back Javonte Williams, who the Broncos traded up for.
I would say that Williams is my favorite selection. I love how he runs. He may end up being the best running back in the draft when it’s all said and done.
I think something that may not be talked about enough is the fact that he split carries with Michael Carter in college. That is a tremendous bonus for the Broncos, as he has nearly 150 less carries than his teammate Michael Carter.
It is a shame that they traded up for Williams. They traded the 40th pick, as well as their fourth-round selection.
Hopefully Williams proves that it was the right decision.
I really like the 2nd round choice at running back. I think he’s going to be an absolute stud. Where do you see him fitting into the backfield this year, and in the coming years as he matures?
I expect Javonte Williams to become the team’s featured running back fairly quickly. Phillip Lindsay signed with the Houston Texans, creating the running back need.
Melvin Gordon’s contract with the Broncos expires after the 2021 season and the team obviously knows that. Williams has the ability to become the Broncos’ lead back
As I mentioned in the question before this, Williams shared carries in college so he does not have a ton of wear and tear.
Don’t be shocked when we see him lead the team in carries in 2022.
Do you think the Broncos will keep Quinn Meinerz at guard or put him at center?
The Broncos’ starting offensive line is set, with (going from left to right) Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, and Ja’Wuan James.
Or is it?
Quinn Meinerz played guard at Wisconsin-Whitewater, but the Broncos want to see him take snaps at center, too.
Who knows? Maybe Meinerz will turn out to be a complete steal and push Cushenberry out of the starting lineup at center. Either way, Meinerz’s versatility is something the Broncos really like and would be happy to see him in either position.
Does this draft cement the idea that Justin Strnad is a likely, future starter?
The answer to this question depends on a couple of things.
First of all, how well will he come back from the wrist injury that landed him on injured reserve as a rookie?
Can he be dependable and stay on the field more often than not?
Can he show the Broncos that he is a reliable tackler? That’s obviously a huge part of a linebacker’s duties.
In 2022, the Broncos will have the following linebackers hit free agency (as of right now, at least):
OLB Von Miller
ILB Josey Jewell
ILB Alexander Johnson
OLB Malik Reed
LB Natrez Patrick
LB Josh Watson
Denver also drafted Baron Browning to add to their linebacking group. He has been compared to Micah Parsons, but without the off-field red flags.
The battle between Strnad and Browning in time will be a fun one to pay attention to.
Who do you think will have the biggest impact among rookies in 2021?
The Broncos did not have a ton of holes on the roster following this year’s free agency period. They did, however, add some players through the draft that could make an instant impact.
Eyes are on the first round cornerback Patrick Surtain II. But I’m going to go with Javonte Williams.
I strongly believe that Pat Shurmur will give plenty of carries to both he and Melvin Gordon.
Why does everyone hate the #9 pick? We got the best DB in the draft, if not the best defensive player in the whole draft. I’m hoping Lock and/or Bridgewater can be successful.
— Tanner K
You partially answered your own question, Tanner. People want instant success at the quarterback position. The Broncos had the chance to draft Justin Fields or Mac Jones, but passed to take the best defensive player in the draft.
Whether or not the team loved either Fields or Jones, it wasn’t more than they loved Patrick Surtain II.
Do you think the Broncos will trade wide receiver Courtland Sutton?
No. However, DaeSean Hamilton’s name has been floated around the web as being part of a trade.
Is this a retool or rebuild type of year?
The Broncos have pretty much all of their starters in place. We will have to see what happens at the quarterback position.
The team focused on adding depth during the 2021 NFL Draft — not immediate starters (for the most part).
So, I suppose they are trying to “retool” their roster, but not “rebuild.”
How fast could we see this rookie class make an impact for the Broncos?
Patrick Surtain II: The Broncos signed Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller this offseason but with the injuries they suffered last year, and the same sort of offseason program as last year happening again in 2021, they needed more depth. Surtain is going to play on the outside boundaries, while the Broncos have others who can take care of the inside of the field.
Javonte Williams: Could become the lead back in a year or two depending on what they do with Gordon.
Quinn Meinerz: Let the competition begin. Will he beat out Lloyd Cushenberry? Or will he be the eventual starter at right guard? For now, he’s a backup trying to compete at center.
Baron Browning: He should make an instant impact in certain situations—He can drop into zone coverage as well as blitz the quarterback.
Caden Sterns, Jamar Johnson: This was an interesting decision to draft two safeties back-to-back but the fact of the matter is that Kareem Jackson might be playing his last year in Denver after signing a 1-year deal. This competition will be a good one to see who replaces the veteran.
Seth Williams: Could we see Williams on the field for the Broncos instead of DaeSean Hamilton? As previously mentioned, Hamilton could be traded at some point.
CB Kary Vincent: The Broncos suffered many injuries at the cornerback position throughout the 2020 season. If that continues into 2021 (I would not be surprised), Williams will get plenty of playing time. Unfortunately, with the COVID situation continuing, the league will go back to the same training camp rules as last year—something that ultimately hurt many teams in the injury department.
LB Jonathon Cooper: Edge depth behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Denver Broncos: Jaelan Phillips was the trade-up target for George Paton
The Denver Broncos were waiting for Jaelan Phillips to fall into the 20s in the first round to trade up and select him. The Miami Dolphins took him at 18.
DL Marquiss Spencer: Spencer is a developmental prospect who could make the team as a backup to Shelby Harris.