Blueprint is set for Broncos blockbuster QB trade in 2024 NFL Draft

If the Broncos want to make a move up the board in the 2024 NFL Draft, the blueprint is set
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has stated that it's "realistic" for the Broncos to trade up in the 2024 NFL Draft if they choose to do so. The truth of that statement might frighten Broncos fans who love having the team picking in the 1st round of the NFL Draft every year.

The blueprint has already been set for nearly the exact trade the Broncos would have to make to move up into the top 3-4 picks in order to select the quarterback they would want. Nobody knows at this point who is going to the Washington Commanders with the 2nd overall pick, but if the New England Patriots or Arizona Cardinals are willing to move off of the 3rd or 4th overall picks respectively, the framework of a realistic deal was done back in 2021.

That, of course, was when the Jacksonville Jaguars were slated to pick Trevor Lawrence 1st overall and the New York Jets had their pick of players with the 2nd overall selection. The San Francisco 49ers made a preemptive move up the board, trading up from the 12th overall pick to the 3rd overall pick with the Miami Dolphins. Let's look at what they gave up.

49ers 2021 trade

Three first-round picks and a third-round pick to move up from the 12th pick to the third overall pick. That is probably exactly what it would cost the Broncos today. The trade value chart can basically be thrown out the window in these types of scenarios because these deals are involving the quarterback position. Teams can ask for whatever they want when the subject of a deal is a quarterback.

And the Dolphins did. And they received what they wanted.

There are bits of context that don't exactly work in the Broncos' favor compared to the 2021 49ers. Although San Francisco was picking 12th overall, they were only within striking distance of the top 10 of the NFL Draft that year because Jimmy Garoppolo struggled (again) with injuries in 2020 and the combination of Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard started 10 games for that team. The 49ers had been in the Super Bowl the year prior.

In other words, they had built an elite roster with top-tier pieces on both sides of the ball. Selling the farm for a young quarterback the front office and coaching staff believed in was a lower risk for the 49ers than it would presumably be for the 2024 Denver Broncos, who haven't had a first-round pick since Pat Surtain II in 2021.

Still, it's reasonable for the Broncos to believe that getting a franchise QB in the fold, especially on a rookie deal, could solve a lot of their problems. Not that every first-round QB is going to turn out to be CJ Stroud, but the way Stroud turned around a pathetic Texans team was remarkable. Some people hate those comparisons, but they are valid. The Texans had just five selections in each of the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts. They didn't have a first-round pick in either of those classes. In 2021, they didn't pick until round three.

To think that Houston was that much further along compared to the Broncos at this point last year is silly at best. A hit at the quarterback position would turn things around dramatically for Denver, so is it worth the investment the 49ers made?

With almost $100 million in projected cap space next offseason, it might be. If the Broncos believe in the quarterback, they've got to move with conviction. You have cap space to supplement not having the first-round picks by adding veteran players. We've also seen the Cleveland Browns built a top-flight roster with some whiffs in the NFL Draft (including at quarterback) and not having prime NFL Draft real estate. The Browns have been opportunistic on the trade market and in free agency.

There are more ways than just increasing your batting average in the NFL Draft to build a strong roster, but the Broncos would need to have the perfect combination of hitting on mid-late-round picks in the draft as well as signing the right free agents.

But there's no sense in putting the cart before the proverbial horse. The key is hitting on the quarterback position. We don't know at this point if the Broncos like one guy or if they truly like a variety. If the latter is true, then there's really no need to make this kind of bold move up. If the Broncos sell off their future NFL Draft capital -- again -- it will be because they believe that whatever QB they are going to get has the best chance of being one of the "one or two" to work from this class, as Sean Payton has stated.

And in that case, the price would be well worth it.