The other day, I was listening to Gil Brandt on Sirius (by the way, if you don't have Sirius radio, Movin' the Chains with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan is worth the subscription price). And Gil mentioned the Broncos had met with Justin Gilbert, the cornerback/punt returner from Oklahoma State, twice.
The consensus belief among draftniks is that Justin Gilbert will be long gone by the time the Broncos pick at 31. So why would the Broncos take the time to meet with him twice? In my mind, meeting with a player once is "due diligence." But twice? That's genuine interest.
Meanwhile, speculation's been rampant about quarterback-needy teams inquiring about the availability of New England's Ryan Mallett. By comparison, the buzz surrounding the availability of Brock Osweiler has been much more subdued. In fact, the only report I've heard was from Peter Burns, who said the Texans and the Browns have contacted the Broncos about obtaining him.
Yet, compared to Mallett, Osweiler would be the superior "get." Consider that Mallett's only thrown four regular-season passes in his career. And Patriot fans have groused about how they're "still waiting" for Ryan Mallett to dominate a preseason game. By comparison, Osweiler has more experience when the live bullets are flying. That's not to suggest that Osweiler's talent is superior to Mallet's. Instead, when you compare their contracts and their ages, Osweiler wins. If my memory's working, Osweiler's signed through 2017; while Mallett has one year left on his contract.
I haven't heard anyone say this explicitly, but I can't help but wonder where Brock and Ryan would be drafted if teams had that option this year. It's been widely reported that this year's quarterback class sucks. Conversely, the year Osweiler came out is on track to be the greatest quarterback class since the fabled class of 1983. Plus, Brock has been mentored by not one, but two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. And he's still only...what? 17 years old?
So the question is, given Brock's professional experience, his contract situation and his age, if teams could - by some odd circumstance - draft him in May, where would he go? Would he be the first quarterback taken?
I think so.
Surely, John Elway recognizes the value that Brock Osweiler represents. And there's a chance his trade value will never be higher than it is right now.
The next piece of evidence I find intriguing is John Elway's exposure to Wyoming's Brett Smith, a quarterback some have labeled "the poor man's Johnny Manziel." Smith is another player the Broncos have met with twice. And we shouldn't overlook Smith's participation in the Manning passing camp. In other words, Elway might have a better understanding of Brett Smith's capabilities than any other NFL exec.
I seem to recall hearing that Elway once said something to the effect of, "We'll probably draft a quarterback every draft." So perhaps Elway's interest in Smith is merely consistent with that ideal.
Or perhaps not.
Then you have this week's comments from Rick Spielman, the Vikings' GM, who called the decision to draft a quarterback "torturous." Spielman said there are no "sure things" in this class and that all the quarterbacks are flawed. He goes on to ponder (sorry, I couldn't help it) whether to wait and select a quarterback later.
To me, these puzzle pieces come together to form an interesting picture: One where the Broncos package the 31st pick in the draft along with Brock Osweiler in exchange for the Vikings' 8th pick in the draft. In the process, we leap ahead of the Detroit Lions, a cornerback-needy team, to select Justin Gilbert. Then later, we select Brett Smith to serve as Osweiler's replacement.
Should this happen, I'd be thrilled. I think Justin Gilbert is an exceptional talent at a position where we need help. Can John Elway be seriously considering entering next season with Tony Carter or Kayvon Webster at the starter opposite Aqib Talib and Chris Harris? No.
I subscribe to the edict that first round draft picks need to start immediately. And as I look at our potential starters, there aren't many positions where a rookie could supplant a veteran. Middle linebacker? Absolutely. Right tackle? I can buy that. Wide receiver? Yep. And cornerback too. But not just any cornerback. They have to be special. And that player is Justin Gilbert.
So what's the hold up? Is John Elway playing hard to get? Or am I baking a crazy cake?
The game is afoot!