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3 & Out with The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak

Would it be better for the Broncos to pass on a quarterback and take other positions in 2019? Tank for Tua in 2020?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Alabama
Should Elway Lock the Broncos into a quarterback in 2019?
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Another good week to look ahead to next year’s draft class. For this week’s 3 & Out I spoke with Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network to get an outside view on what Denver needs come Draft Day. If you haven’t started looking at The Draft Network for Mock drafts they do a series every Monday that I highly recommend. They’re also the best resource on the net with their 2019 player database. As always, this interview was lightly interviewed for clarity.

1st and 10

Most of the season I’ve seen The Draft Network mock a quarterback to the Broncos. two weeks ago you gave them Jarret Stidham from Auburn, (will link the profile) and last Monday Brad Kelly gave them Will Grier from West Virginia. It seems like everyone’s sold on Justin Herbert but leery of the rest of this class, which made your mock even more interesting because you had Herbert staying at Oregon. So I guess if that were to happen, or Denver can’t get into realistic contention for him, why should they go after Grier, Stidham or even Drew Lock?

Why should they? I suppose because they really need a quarterback, and teams that need a quarterback are pretty dead in the water in terms of deep playoff aspirations.

Stidham isn’t a player I want to hang my hat on at all, as he’s struggled this season with his decision-making and accuracy. But because he’s a big-bodied SEC passer whose teams have been relatively successful, he’ll hit a lot of boxes for an evaluator like Elway.

Grier is likely the best player of the three, but he’s a hot-and-cold passer who needs strong pass-catchers around him to be successful. Lock is a project quarterback with nice size and physical traits, but you’ll need a good bit of time to get him comfortable with the playbook.

2nd and 8

Outside of the QB position what do you see as the biggest needs of this Broncos team? They seem better than their record, but at the same time lost in blowout fashion to a rebuilding Jets team.

Building in the trenches is always a great idea, especially when you need to nurse a young quarterback (eventually). Even when you don’t have a strong QB back there, a good offensive line helps power the running game. I could see them making a move at offensive tackle to upgrade on Jared Veldheer, in which case a player like West Virginia’s Yodny Cajuste or Wisconsin’s David Edwards makes a lot of sense. If they want to get a guy with tackle/guard versatility to really subscribe to a ‘best five’ mindset, look for Alabama’s Jonah Williams and Kansas State’s Dalton Risner.

Interior defensive line is also probably a need -- that DeMarcus Walker pick was always a bad one. It’s a super strong class there: Alabama’s got two strong players in Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis, and Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons is a world-beater if you feel clear with his off-field history.

3rd and 5

Since they have all these other needs, would it be better for them to chase after a different position where there seems to be a deep pool of talent and try to hold out for the QB crop of 2020? Fans are already calling for Tua Tagovailoa.

It’s tough to plan for the 2020 draft because you never really know what’s coming. The mostly likely top quarterback to come off the board in 2020 right now isn’t even Tua -- it’s Justin Herbert, who may very well go back to school.

Who knows if Tua comes out? What if he has a late injury and decides to go back to school instead of entering the Draft hurt? You never want to go reaching for lower talent just because you have need -- Denver shouldn’t feel the need to force quarterback -- but for every week that you start a quarterback who simply doesn’t give you a chance to be a division champion and playoff team, your team’s star players become less and less patient. That’s a tough thing to deal with in the locker room.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee
Would Broncos Country possibly wait ‘til 2021 for their franchise QB?
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

4th and 3

Everyone talks about the defensive line class and how great it looks, but what are the other strengths of this class? What are the weakest positions?

Strong: Interior Defensive Line, EDGE, Wide Receiver, Interior Offensive Line

Weak: Safety, Offensive Tackle, Running Back, Quarterback

DT Jerry Tillery has been an absolute menace for the Fighting Irish this season -- his frame and power remind me of Leonard Williams out of USC. Denver likely won’t be starving for EDGE play, but OLB Chase Winovich from Michigan may be available on Day 3, and he’s a polished rusher who should be a good special teamer.

I love the Courtland Sutton/DaeSean Hamilton pairing for the Broncos -- I guess if you’re looking for a guy not necessarily in either of those two molds, then a Collin Johnson from Texas gives you downfield contested catch ability that neither Sutton or Hamilton bring. Interior guys? I’m falling hard for Chris Lindstrom, the guard out of Boston College -- big, powerful hands, clean footwork. He’s a people mover.

What do you think Broncos Country?