Denver Broncos could have secret weapon to ace a rookie quarterback draft pick

Why aren't we talking about this secret weapon enough?

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos seem to be angling toward selecting a QB in the 2024 NFL Draft, and beyond Sean Payton, they could have another secret weapon to ace that pick. When talking about the Broncos and what QB fits them, the first name you may hear is Sean Payton, as Payton's offense has been objectively successful in the NFL, and there is clearly a certain type of QB that best fits his scheme.

Russell Wilson was not a good fit for the offense, and the Broncos further cemented that belief by cutting him earlier this offseason. With the 12th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Denver might not be able to trade up for a QB of their choice, perhaps JJ McCarthy, but they could potentially stay put or even trade back.

Well, while we're so caught up in what QB Sean Payton might want, we need to be talking about George Paton's eye for QBs as well. His brief history with the Denver Broncos and the QB position should actually inspire confidence that his input could be substantive and ultimately correct.

Let me explain

2021 NFL Draft

This was the first NFL Draft that George Paton was the Denver Broncos GM for. The top QBs in that class included Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. The top three picks were unquestionably drafting Lawrence, Wilson, and Lance, so the Broncos did have a legitimate shot at drafting Fields and Jones.

Well, right before the draft, the team traded for QB Teddy Bridgewater. Many thought that Bridgewater was going to be a stopgap/bridge option for a rookie QB, and when the Broncos first-round selection came up, both Justin Fields and Mac Jones were on the board, and with the Broncos have a dire need for a franchise QB, George Paton drafted Patrick Surtain II instead.

And initially, many were not kind to Paton about that selection, but three years later, not only are Justin Fields and Mac Jones both not even close to being franchise QBs, but even Trevor Lawrence has been shaky at best through his short career. And both Zach Wilson and Trey Lance are obviously not franchise passers, either.

So, the top five QBs during that cycle all haven't been consistent enough to be a franchise QB, and that QB class as a whole simply looks bad. Perhaps George Paton knew that the QBs he had a chance to take during that NFL Draft weren't going to be very good. With the Broncos having a huge need for a QB back in 2021, Paton not selecting one should have been a huge indicator of how bad that class was.

And through three years, George Paton made the right decision.

2022 NFL Draft

From the beginning, the 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class was not seen as a very good one at all. In fact, only Kenny Pickett was selected in the first round, and it's clear through two years that Pickett was severely overdrafted and most definitely not a franchise passer. guys like Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corrall, and Malik Willis have all been non-factors in the NFL.

The class was again flat-out bad, save Brock Purdy, the Mr. Irrelevant selection that his current team, the 49ers, passed up many times. George Paton decided to package the Broncos 2022 first-round pick among many other picks for Russell Wilson, which again, should have been seen as an indicator of what Paton thought about the QB class.

The process to get a franchise QB by George Paton was fine. No one really faulted him for trading for Russell Wilson, who was still 33 years old at the time. It's not like Paton made this unprecedented trade. His head coaching choice for 2022 was perhaps a huge reason for Wilson not playing well.

But I am saying all of this to say that the QBs that George Paton did not pursue in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Drafts should put more confidence in that front office that they know what to not look for. Paton, frankly, looks like a genius for not selecting a first-round QB in 2021 or 2022.

He likely did not think much of either class, so perhaps Paton himself has a solid eye for QB talent. Between Paton's history in the NFL Draft at the QB position as the Broncos GM, and Sean Payton surely knowing what he wants in a young passer, that duo should ultimately make the right decision in the 2024 NFL Draft.