Broncos dropping hints at shocking potential first-round pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Are the Broncos plotting a non-QB option in round one of the 2024 NFL Draft?
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos taking a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft seems like a foregone conclusion. But what if it isn't?

The Broncos have had some very intriguing pre-draft visits with some of the top prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft class, visits that may not ultimately mean anything...Or they might mean everything. It's common around this time of year for teams to host players on "top 30" visits where players come to the team facility and spend the day. It's a great way to get more intel on a prospect, check some final boxes on your scouting notes/personal profiles, and generally try to throw off the scent of whatever your true intentions are in the NFL Draft.

But if the Broncos go any direction other than quarterback in the first round, one position that would make more sense than most is the EDGE position. It appears as though the team is acknowledging that as well, as they are hosting a couple of potential first-round options off the edge for visits to the team facility, including Florida State's Jared Verse and UCLA's Laiatu Latu.

Denver Broncos hosting Jared Verse for visit ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

Verse is currently projected as the 14th-best player in the entire draft by NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah. He's coming off of a pair of seasons at FSU in which he racked up 18.0 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss. The former Albany transfer dominated multiple levels of college football and is considered by some to be one of the "safest" prospects in the 2024 class.

Broncos getting closer look at UCLA EDGE Laiatu Latu

Another player off the edge the Broncos are going to take a closer look at is UCLA's Laiatu Latu. Latu is the 16th-ranked player on Daniel Jeremiah's overall board and is considered arguably the best pure pass rusher in this class. Despite being a bit bigger than Jared Verse, Latu is not exactly known for his run defense, but he will be drafted high for his ability to get after the quarterback.

He had 23.5 sacks over the last two seasons at UCLA as well as 34 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. The biggest knock on Latu at this point is the fact that he missed the 2020 season due to a neck injury while he was at Washington, and wasn't medically cleared by the UW staff in 2021 to resume playing.

Lance Zierlein of compared Latu's game to that of TJ Watt, so the potential here is obviously quite exciting.

These are crucial visits for the Denver Broncos, because the assumption at this point has been quarterback/offense in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. That might not be the case, ultimately. What happens if the Broncos don't love more than three or four guys at the QB position in this year's draft? Maybe they don't love more than 1-2 guys, including Caleb Williams. If that is the case, don't be shocked to see them pivot to a different position to try and add some foundational pieces around the roster as opposed to just taking an obligatory swing at the QB position.

That's what the team did with Paxton Lynch in 2016, and it went horribly wrong.

The front office and coaching staff -- specifically Sean Payton -- have to be absolutely convinced that the quarterback they choose is the one they want. Otherwise, they'd be passing on true cornerstone-type pieces like Verse or Latu in order to appease the fans. That's not going to happen.

The Broncos have traded Bradley Chubb and Von Miller since George Paton came aboard as GM. They completely whiffed on blockbuster free agent signing Randy Gregory. As promising as players like Jonathon Cooper, Nik Bonitto, and Baron Browning have been, the Broncos don't currently have a top-flight game-changer off the edge.

Holding the 12th overall pick, they might just be able to get one. Maybe they're plotting taking an EDGE at 12 overall or trading down and grabbing one, then moving up to get a quarterback they feel they can build around. Whatever the case, these top-30 visits with Verse and Latu are worth filing away with just a couple of weeks to go before the 2024 NFL Draft.