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Horse Tracks: Broncos need an impact player with their top pick, not a project

After a disastrous season and having missed the playoffs for two consecutive years, the Denver Broncos can’t afford to take a project with their fifth overall selection — they need an impact player.

The Denver Broncos season ending press conference Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country.

The Denver Broncos have a golden opportunity to add a wealth of talent to their roster through the 2018 NFL Draft. With a current arsenal of nine selections and the fifth overall pick, John Elway and his staff have the draft ammunition needed to make some big waves — and they certainly need to. After an abysmal 5-11 campaign under first-year Head Coach Vance Joseph, it’s clear that there is no quick solution to making Denver great again, but getting some quality contributors in this year’s draft is a good starting point for the Broncos to get back to their Super Bowl winning ways.

The roster isn’t devoid of talent. The defense is still one of the best units in the entire league, but it could use upgrades at a few position, in particular inside linebacker. Alas, the offense is an entirely different story, which has a myriad of holes and is in desperate need of a talent infusion. Tackle, guard, quarterback, running back, tight end and receiver — a strong case could me made that each and every one of those positions needs an addition through this year’s draft.

It’s impossible to nail every selection, but the Broncos can’t afford to have a lot of big whiffs come April, especially in regard to their top pick. The desire and appeal of getting a franchise quarterback is understandable, but do you really believe the Broncos are going to get their top prospect at the position at fifth overall? I doubt it. Do you really want the Broncos to roll the dice on a quarterback and risk going through another Paxton Lynch scenario? I certainly don’t.

The Broncos need an impact player with their top pick, not a project. It’s not often Denver has the benefit of picking so high, thus it’s essential for them to reap the rewards. Make no mistake, this player must become an integral piece of the franchise’s foundation, not a project who is going to take time. Could a quarterback be that guy? Sure, but I’m not going to risk prime draft capital on any quarterback in this class because they are all significant projects.

The Broncos need to select an impact prospect who plays right away. A player who fills a significant need and can play a high percentage of snaps as a rookie. There are plenty of positions that could use such an upgrade, and there are a handful of ‘safe’ prospects that address those needs. Give me a Quenton Nelson for the offensive line, widely-regarded as one of the best offensive trench prospects in the past decade. Give me a Roquan Smith, a dynamic linebacker that would give the Broncos the ferocious playmaker the need in the middle of their defense. Give me a Minkah Fitzpatrick, a Swiss Army knife defender in the secondary who can play any position you want him to.

What the Broncos can’t afford to do and should avoid all costs is selecting a project. Don’t roll the dice on a Josh Allen or a Baker Mayfield, John Elway. You’ve already struggled several times using a high pick in that respect. You don’t want to go down that road again, because deep down you know where that leads. The best thing you could do is go and get yourself a franchise quarterback in free agency and a future franchise player with the fifth overall pick.

Two birds, one stone. Two franchise players, one off season. It’s not often a golden opportunity like this exists, so when it happens you take advantage of it.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

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