FanPost

Trey Lance or Mac Jones? : a Mock

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I needed to reassess my view of the qb position. Lock has played his way out of trust. I was an advocate for riding the fence on needing a qb, by taking Jamie Newman in the 2nd, but no longer. Denver is almost certain to be picking somewhere between 5 &10, and if you are picking inside the top 10 with a starting qb question mark, you must take the quarterback. That's just responsible.

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Round 1: QB Trey Lance or Mac Jones

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- I love Trey Lance's dynamic upside. Throw out his 2020 showcase game, this guy is a special athlete. The downside of Trey Lance is that he will need to have a pared down(unique?) offensive playbook early in his career. It's just not realistic to expect a DII athletic style qb to become fully system aware in his first, and likely, second year. With Trey Lance, you are purchasing the early flash plays and the year 3 upside. The upside comes from his ridiculous turnover free 2019 season. That is every OCs wet dream. He is a DI talented QB playing in DII, but it's not his fault he was underrecruited.

Most teams picking in the top 10 will respect the fact that rookie qbs have lower expectations. I don't know if the Broncos are there with JE/Fangio making decisions. If JE takes Lance, he is betting on there being enough flash plays to assist the defense in winning games, but he is a relatively low floor, high ceiling player. It would be an uncanny future oriented move for an organization that has preached winning now. The OC Lance is given is going to be crucial to his early success. Lance has shown some arm accuracy/ball placement issues stemming from late/bad footwork. This doesn't surprise me that the best athlete on the field has been getting by without structured footwork. Players with immense talent can usually get by without technique if they are not pushed to focus on it. Lance's skillset is not common, and should be valued accordingly.

With Lawrence and Fields scheduled to go ahead of him, the Broncos could be in range of Lance. It's going to take a love affair for Lance to go inside the top 5 when he had no valuable 2020 information added to his profile. Throw out the showcase game because it was less useful than a spring game. Relying on 2019 DII tape inside the top 5 is going to take one helluva set of cojones on that GM and coach to approve it. You had better believe the tandem would go to the gallows if Lance bottomed out. I expect Denver to pick anywhere from 5-10. This is likely where Trey Lance ends up going.

If some aggressive GM buys the Lance lotto, Mac Jones is a fine consolation prize. I really like Mac Jones' game. He's a pocket passer, so you're going to have to get over that if your type is necessarily of the new wave. His best trait is his big arm. Jones has been used on designed rolls and flushes. He's not the most unathletic pocket passer ever, but he struggles making those "wow" on-the-move throws. More so, he struggles making throws in general on the move. Sometimes his eyes are bigger than his arm, and he will make some dreadful throws. More on this later....

Where Mac Jones really shines as a prospect is that he can realistically be expected to make the jump from Alabama to running an NFL offense fairly proficiently early in his career, disregarding normal rookie hiccups. His stats at Alabama are ridiculous and he may get the Heisman out of it. Jones did it the right way and waited his turn for Tua to move on to the NFL instead of transferring for a starting gig. I respect players that do that, and it has paid off for the next in line 1st round Alabama QB.

Stats are stats. How does he throw the ball? I really like Jones' throwing motion. It's not the quickest in the world, and at times, it appears he tries so hard to get it out quickly that he short arms a bubble screen even if it is on target. Jones has long arms and long legs. With those levers, he uses biomechanics in his favor when he can throw from a set position. His throwing motion is a lot like Tom Brady, emphasizing a high elbow with near full-extension. This is the technically correct way for a human to throw a ball optimized for velocity and going with the bone and ligament structure of we fleshy beans. I come from a baseball understanding, and Mac has nice arm motion. When Jones is rushed, his accuracy wavers, tending towards low misses as he tries to shorten his release. This could be a concern in the long term if he cannot find a way to fix it, but.....

Let's go over a concept real quick. It is a kernel of baseball execs that you always take the big pitcher even if they are a little bit wild. Why? Similar to how small handed basketball players can usually shoot the ball easier, when there is so much arm to move, it takes time for the body and mind to adjust to this brand new gadget. Long arms take time to develop a great feel for throwing. Jones has shown very good accuracy when his feet are set and he has time to throw, but if he is rushed, the probability of the ball being on the money goes down, perhaps, more than it should. This is something like Tyler Glasnow learning to pin point a changeup. Ultimately, I don't think this is an issue, because Jones has shown the promise to be able to drop a 40 yd dime into bucket across the hash, so much of the inconsistency should clear up as he grows into his arm. The failed throwing projects are the ones that are absolutely wild and demonstrate no feel whatsoever before they are projected to accomplish great things. Riley Pint is exhibit A for this, and for those of you who don't know him or his story, that's point enough because Pint was the 4th overall pick of your Colorado Rockies in the 2016 draft and hasn't even pitched well enough to be tradeable. The players that show feel but lack consistency can grow into their potential like how Tyler Glasnow was stolen from the Pirates who thought he was a potato project. The next year he's the young stud on a World Series team.

Back to football, Mac Jones' path to success is in a structured offense under center where he can feel confident in his offensive line. Mac Jones has a decent amount in common with Daniel Jones. Both players showed promise to be able to run an offense early in their career, and they have similar physical builds. Let's go back to Daniel Jones and how he could barely throw the ball 40 yards in college and didn't look like he had a feel for throwing in general. Evaluators weren't concerned about his arm strength because with players with long arms, there is more to be gained from arm exercises due to natural gifts. Now it has turned out that his feel for throwing is a limitation. But, I will argue, Mac Jones DOES have a feel for throwing the ball. Clip up his top 10 throws, and you'd see a top 5 pick. But clip up his bottom 10 throws (usually throws on the run) and you might scratch your head and wonder "what in the why is he how from the where?" I see the top end of Mac and I'll buy into it improving in consistency and even absolute improvement for natural reasons mentioned previously.

The most attacked point on Mac will be all the talent he is surrounded by. GET OVER IT! Pocket passers need to be surrounded by talent in order to succeed. Don't knock the player for playing the game. Does he have a dearth of talented WRs? Yes. But he also makes across the field throws that should get you out of your seat. I would clip examples of translatable traits, etc. if I had the time to download video editing software and time to actually do it, but since I don't care enough, watch a couple of his full cut ups (or even the full games) to see what I'm talking about. I promise that having a feel is important for developing accuracy with young, long limbed throwers. There are so many examples across baseball, it might be too common to use for comparison. And it's not like Mac Jones has a 52% passer rating. He just has some poor ball placement from time to time.

When it comes to character, I don't think there will be a speck of dust on these dapper dudes. This is not information I am specially privy to, but I would be flabbergasted if either had a Joe Mixon highlight tape in their history.

I think somebody could make a sound argument for Mac Jones over Trey Lance, but I don't want to be that person today. The reason to love Trey Lance is that he showed dominant mastery of his offense in 2019 with an athletic profile that could make him a top playmaker in the league at his position in a few years, and the drawback is he is coming from DII with no real 2020 information and is likely a year or two out from really spreading his wings in an offense. I would take Trey Lance over Mac Jones so long as we had a more creative OC than Shurmur. But the case for Mac Jones is strong especially if Denver holds onto Shurmur. Jones looks like the ideal Shurmur QB. Jones should be able to run an offense early and make some impressive throws downfield so long as the protection holds up. I want to get the water boiling on this debate as someone that has turned the light off on the Drew Lock experiment.

Now the obligatory rest of the mock where most people only care about the position by round instead of the actual player listed. Sigh.

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Round 2: Walker Little OT Stanford, 6'7" 320 lbs

-A pass pro specialist with rd1 ability, but somewhat of a medical concern. It's not as though his medicals will make him fall into day 3, but there is a little too much risk to take a rd1 tackle that had a knee injury a couple years ago. I don't put my heart and soul into scouting OL, so if someone thinks I'm a fool for taking a medical concern over player X, make me aware in the comments. My logic here is that Mac Jones will require a good pair of tackles to be successful. Little would be able to play immediately. I expect JE to try to get rid of Juwann James any way he can this offseason.

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Round 3: Kary Vincent Jr CB LSU, 5'10" 185lbs

-I think Denver releases Bouye, and chooses not to add a high price vet. Perhaps they add a cheap vet on a covid deal, but I think Denver prefers to get some homegrown CB talent. Callahan will be entering the final year of his deal, so a replacement needs to enter the pipeline. Enter Kary Vincent Jr. Vincent is Fangio's favorite word: versatile. He hits like a safety, but covers like a corner. He looks like the PERFECT zone cornerback. He makes plays on the ball and makes a play out of an open field tackle. I love watching his tape. I would feel confident in him playing in year one.

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Round 4: Jordan Smith EDGE UAB, 6'7" 255 lbs or Elerson Smith EDGE UNI, 6'7" 245 lbs.

-In the 4th round, I want Denver to select an upside pass rusher that can redshirt behind Von, Chubb, and Reed while learning the NFL game for their first year. 2022 is totally up in the air at this position, but Denver can't afford to address it any earlier than the 4th round. Both of these prospects have great size, Jordan is slightly more built up, but each should eat PB sandwiches for a year to handle Fangio's two-gapping scheme. Either way, I think JE was targeting this type when he took Justin Hollins in the 5th round, but Hollins never showed the ability to bend the edge, and was not strong enough to speed-to-power. After putting on weight, each of these players offer starter upside. I would prioritize Jordan Smith, but Elerson Smith is there for me as well. Another small school upside worthy consideration is Patrick Johnson from Tulane. Johnson has the same physique as a young Bradley Chubb (6'3" 255 lbs), but he is more of a speed rusher than a power rusher. Apparently my type is boring last names.

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Round 5: Erroll Thompson LB Miss St, 6'0" 250 lbs.

-Here's the thing. Alexander Johnson will be an unrestricted free agent after 2021, and I am not sure if there will be enough money floating around to extend him. Also, Johnson will be turning the dreaded 30 by the time he is a UFA, and has not looked the same as last year. Denver has Johnson, Jewell, and Strnad(& Watson I suppose) at ILB and there is fading luster in that group. Ultimately, the DL is more important for stopping the run, but I think Denver shores that up in free agency. Erroll Thompson has been a tackling machine at Miss St. His weakness is coverage speed, but Johnson also struggles with that and Denver is able to work around it. The 3-4 Defense can have one power and one flow linebacker. Johnson is our power, and he will be entering a contract negotiation at age 30. Jewell is our flow, and he is who he is space, though I admit he has surprised me with his play this year. Denver would be wise to bring in some young talent to the ILB position group. Thompson is an old school linebacker and a ball to watch. Have a look yourself. An alpha.

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Round 6: Anthony Hines LB Texas A&M, 6' 3" 230 lbs

-This Junior just declared for the NFL Draft after he opted out of this season. A former high recruit, Hines has been a good player, and possibly I have him too low here, but for a Junior opt-out, I don't think teams will choose him over an equally rated player. I suspect the opt-outs will be given a bit of a silent stain by evaluators. Still he has talent, and Denver could use some more depth on the interior. I've recently soured a bit on the luster of Johnson and Jewell going into the future. In 2019, Hines had 73 tackles and 10.5 TFLs. Hines is more of a "flow" linebacker than a "power" linebacker.

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Round 7: Tariq Thompson S SDSU, 6'0" 210 lbs

-Thompson has good college production as a four year starter with multiple 4 int seasons. The reason why Thompson is here in the 7th despite good college production is the Mountain West bias and that he is not a flashy athlete. That's okay for me since KJax is entering a contract year and needs a respectable reserve to be evaluated for what will need to happen with this position in 2022. It is more likely than not that if JE pays Justin Simmons (like I think he will) that the other safety spot will transition into being 1st contract controlled. Adding a day 3 reserve may not be the plan for 2022, but would make it safer to take a safety in next year's draft with current competition on the roster. I love that Thompson has created turnovers via int and ff consistently throughout his career. I would bet on a player like this developing into a useful player.

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Round 7: John Lovett RB Baylor, 6'0" 210 lbs
Round 7: Trey Ragas RB Louisiana, 5'10" 220 lbs

- With the final two picks, I have the Broncos taking a pair of RBs. I have not fully scouted the fringe draftable RBs, so I went with a couple guys I know about. This RB room needs to be reset with young depth and I like Bellamy, but he is a small, quick guy. Denver needs to push Royce Freeman with some practice squad stashable talent. The plan at RB in 2022 remains totally up in the air. The time to add extra depth is now. Both of these players are interesting.

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That's all folks. Tell me I'm dumb below :D

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