Denver Broncos punt at quarterback in Peter Schrager's mock draft

Peter Schrager has the Broncos going after an EDGE...
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Peter Schrager of the NFL Network and FOX Sports is one of the most well-connected guys in the business. He has relationships all over the league, including with Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton, his old co-worker at FOX. When Peter Schrager drops a mock draft, it carries a little more weight than others because he might actually have some decent insight into what these teams are thinking based on firsthand information rather than just hearsay.

And not all of Broncos Country is going to like what he predicted in his first of just two mock draft scenarios ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft...

Peter Schrager picks Laiatu Latu for Denver Broncos in 2024 NFL mock draft

"Viewed by many as the best pure pass rusher in the draft, Latu absolutely could end up in Denver if the board falls this way. The Broncos would, of course, love to move up and get a top-four quarterback, but I just don't think they have the ammunition. They'd have to really love Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr. to take either at No. 12 overall. (Like really, REALLY love.) So Latu's the prediction here."

Peter Schrager,

Even if they are buddies, it stands to reason that Sean Payton isn't going to let anyone know who he really, REALLY loves in this year's draft at the QB position. He said when he was working for FOX that he believed Caleb Williams -- the presumptive #1 pick -- to be a generational type of talent who could force the NFL into a lottery-style draft system. That may have been a bit of a hot take, in hindsight.

Even still, the closest we've come to knowing anything about what Sean Payton thinks of this crop of QB prospects is the fact that he followed JJ McCarthy on Twitter, which could ultimately mean nothing at all.

The problem with Schrager's selection here is not that he chose Laiatu Latu for the Broncos. It's the idea that the Broncos might actually not love any QB enough in this draft to go up and get him. Or to take him at 12 if he's there. In this scenario, the price was too steep to go and get JJ McCarthy, who went 4th overall with the Giants trading up to acquire him. Bo Nix went 23rd overall to the Vikings, and Schrager had this to say about that particular selection...

"Nix could go as high as 11, 12 or 13 ... or completely fall out of the first round. I think 23 to the Vikings -- or another team around here in a trade-up -- makes sense. One thing on Nix: He's as accurate as they come, having just set the FBS record this past season with a completion percentage of 77.45. Smart processor, too. These are things that will be very highly valued by offensive coaches and QB gurus. That's Kevin O'Connell. That's Sean Payton. I could see Nix playing for either of those men."

Peter Schrager

The Broncos have been the betting favorite to land Bo Nix basically all offseason. There are obvious reasons why he could be an ideal selection for the Broncos in the first round, whether that's at 12 overall or in a trade-down scenario.

Again, the biggest issue with any mock draft that doesn't include a quarterback to the Broncos is very simple. It means that the Broncos didn't love any quarterback in this class enough to make the move to go and get them. They have ammunition to trade up, but can they really afford it? That's the question. Having already mortgaged their last two years of first-round picks, can the Broncos sell off their 2025 and 2026 first-round picks in order to take a shot at a QB?

If that's your guy, you've got to do it, but it would be a tough pill to swallow. To use Schrager's words, you would have to really, REALLY love someone to go ahead and do that. The Broncos' 2025 1st-round pick will likely be considered relatively sacred when it comes to trade scenarios. They're not going to trade it for a pick in the late-20s in all likelihood. But in a trade-up scenario, if there's a guy they believe can be a franchise QB, I think that pick would be on the table, certainly. It would have to be.

Sean Payton has exuded supreme confidence in whatever his plan is at the QB position this offseason. He seems rather certain that whatever he's conjured up is going to work. Maybe he just feels like no matter what QB he lands in this draft, it's going to work out. Or maybe he feels like Jarrett Stidham is really going to be a good starter in this league.

Heck, maybe he feels like he can pull Tom Brady out of retirement.

Payton has won games with a variety of QBs in the NFL, from Drew Brees to Taysom Hill. He's confident in his "chess playing" abilities, as it were. But selling Broncos Country on a year of Jarrett Stidham and another offseason of uncertainty at QB in 2025? Well, that would be brutal.