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What if the Broncos trade for a QB?

Is the best way forward Drew Lock and a veteran?

With the NFL Draft less than a month away, it feels like the biggest question hanging over the Denver Broncos is what George Paton will choose to do at quarterback. Now that all the best options in free agency are long gone, there’s only three real options in front of him:

Will the new general manager spend his first draft acquiring a new signal caller?

Will Paton trade for competition before OTAs begin?

Are the Broncos Locked in to their 2020 starter?

I’ve already shared how I view the options ahead of the Broncos, but I think it’s time to take a look at how the decision could impact the whole roster. What follows is potential scenarios where I play the role of George Paton and aggressively pursue an alternative to Drew Lock.

In this scenario, I kept true to my 4 Simple Rules for the NFL draft.

What does the cap look like right now?

According to Over the Cap, the Broncos currently have about $28 million in cap space. This figure accounts for the rollover amount from 2020, but does not currently include the recently signed Shamar Stephen.

Keep in mind that the top 51 contracts are what count against a team’s cap and that the 51st contract on the Broncos is currently a $780,000 cap number, so rookie contracts will impact this.

What about the QB question?

In this scenario we’re Locked In, but looking for veteran competition. Vic Fangio is on the hot seat and we’ve decided the best course of action is to give him signal callers with pro experience. Besides, the 2021 QB class is overrated. If things go poorly, we can always grab a guy in 2022 or ‘23. I’ve got time.

Cut

Jeff Driskel - Quarterback (frees up $2.5 million vs. $750,000 dead)*

*This will occur in the dead season between the draft and OTAs once we have a replacement.

Extended

Bradley Chubb - ED (5th year option: $12.716 million for 2022)

What about free agency?

Having just signed Shamar Stephen, we’re content to roll into the draft with the roster as it currently stands.

What about the 2021 Draft?

For this scenario, I went with The Draft Network’s Mock Draft simulator. Any complaints about the picks should be directed at them. Like the rest of this scenario, my plan for this draft is to explore every avenue to improve the Broncos while giving Drew Lock a realistic chance to compete for QB1. So we’re not drafting a rookie passer.

The Trade Down

I was fortunate Mac Jones fell into my lap at the ninth pick because it led to a number of calls from teams around the league. Keeping in mind that there’s a pretty good chance we’re still looking for a quarterback in a year, I chose to prioritize future picks to move off the current spot. In return for a slide back to the 20th overall pick, Chicago gave me a first and second round pick in the 2022 draft.

While trading down from nine cost me a chance at Patrick Surtain II, we have Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, and Ronald Darby on the roster. The road to immediate playing time is narrow barring an injury and the haul I received was too good to turn down.

T20. Azeez Ojulari - ED - Georgia

It’s a bit of a kick in the pants when Martin Mayhew and the Washington Football Team drafts Teven Jenkins. The right tackle is a top 10 player on my board and would immediately push Ja’Wuan James for playing time. Without him, I choose to pivot to plan B. With all three of the top edge rushers on the board, I make a quick call to Andrew Berry to see if the Cleveland Browns want to jump the Indianapolis Colts. No dice.

Azeez Ojulari is the top ranked edge on my board and can slide into the edge rotation behind Bradley Chubb, Von Miller, and Malik Reed in 2021. His explosiveness, bend, and fluidity in space make him a strong fit in Fangio’s defense, and with time to hone his repertoire behind Miller, I think he can become a dynamic pass rusher.

T57. Jalen Mayfield - RT - Michigan

When the Los Angeles Rams offer me a third round pick to slide back from 40, I have to take it. The trade costs us a chance at five players I like, but the extra pick in the top 103 means another swing at a pretty talented pool of Day 2 prospects. When it starts to look like Daviyon Nixon will be on the board at 57, I try to leverage the weak DL class into another pick. No one bites.

Mayfield’s the top ranked tackle on my board and should provide Mike Munchak a chance to mold the young Wolverine as he essentially redshirts behind James his rookie year. His workouts and short arms caused him to slide, but I’m confident in the player I saw on tape in 2020. He’s a powerful run blocker who can be a force on downblocks and his coaches spoke glowingly about his work ethic. Given time, he’ll be a good one.

71. Tyson Campbell - CB - Georgia

Another Bulldog becomes a Bronco after Ifeatu Melifonwu goes to the Green Bay Packers at the end of the second round. Campbell gives us the kind of long speed and explosiveness you’d expect from a former five star recruit. After playing 33 games in the SEC, it is a bit concerning that Campbell continues to display issues with technique, but we’re betting on Fangio and Ed Donatell to coach him up. He’s got first round tools, offers inside/outside versatility, and has the kind of physical nature we want in a corner.

T103. Dylan Moses - LB - Alabama

I’m bummed when the Tennessee Titans scoop up Ar’Darius Washington as he was easily the highest remaining player on our board. Minus him, I elect to give Fangio a linebacker to groom. With Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson playing out the last year of their contracts, it makes sense to bolster the depth with a potential developmental starter.

Moses is an intriguing gamble because of an ACL tear derailed his 2019 season and impacted his 2020 tape. This far down the board I’m willing to bet on him rediscovering the form that led most evaluators to believe he was a top 10 pick off his pre-injury tape.

114. Kylin Hill - RB - Mississippi State

One of the scouts is banging the table or Rhamondre Stevenson, but I choose to go with the back I prefer. Kylin Hill received a couple flags for butting heads with a new coaching staff with the Bulldogs, but Mike Leach isn’t exactly the easiest person to get along with. I have no problem with his outspoken opposition to the Mississippi state flag. If anything, the character he showed taking that stand is a plus in my book.

For us, he’ll slide in behind Melvin Gordon in year one and compete for playing time with Mike Boone and Royce Freeman. What I like most about his skillset is that he mixes good contact balance, athleticism, and vision with intriguing third down skills.

152. Darrick Forrest - S - Cincinnati

The Jacksonville Jaguars call and offer up Gardner Minshew for a fifth round pick, but I’m not buying. The last thing we need is Minshew Mania turning the season into a circus. Besides, he’s good enough he may actually beat Lock in a competition. Forrest gives us some range on special teams and has the kind of physicality, versatility, and character to potentially develop into the heir to Kareem Jackson down the road.

TRADE-191 - Teddy Bridgewater - QB - Carolina Panthers

As the fifth round wraps up, I give a call to the Carolina Panthers and can hear the excitement in Matt Rhule’s voice. Teddy Bridgewater is going to be a Bronco.

Back when I was with the Minnesota Vikings, we traded back into the first round to grab him in 2014 and he’s stood out as the ideal rival for Lock all offseason. Bridgewater’s journey through the league has seen him play in just about every role you can imagine, so he’ll help regardless of how the competition falls. If Bridgewater wins the competition or finds his way into the lineup due to yet another injury to Lock, he’ll protect the football and let Fangio and the supporting cast carry him.

His age and playstyle should also temper most of the undue drama. He’s the perfect way to buy us time at QB until I have an owner breathing down my neck.

252. Avery Williams - CB - Boise State

With the last pick of the draft, I throw a bone to Tom McMahon. Williams spent his collegiate career as a standout on special teams with five blocked kicks and nine return touchdowns. While he’s undersized at just 5’8” and 187 lbs. he was a four-year starter for the Broncos and has the mental processing, physicality, and short area quickness to compete for time in nickel and dime personnel.

Final Thoughts

There will be some who criticize our draft class because it does not provide what looks like an obvious day one starter, and that’s okay. Smart teams use the draft to stock the cupboard with foundational talent and give the coaches time to teach them so that they’ll develop into core contributors. I believe we provided Fangio and his staff a number of exciting prospects who can do just that.

In addition to the prospects, we addressed the quarterback position with Teddy Bridgewater for 2021 and an extra first and second round pick in 2022. If things go off the rails for Mac Jones and Andy Dalton in Chicago, there’s a decent chance we have the ammo to get our guy if Lock ain’t it.

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