If the Denver Broncos lose to the Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow, it will be their seventeenth in a row to their longtime AFC West rival. That would put them at a 2-6 record just before the trade deadline on Halloween—leaving little doubt that major changes and moves need to be made.
A winless streak that bad against a divisional opponent is almost unfathomable, but we know the Broncos had their struggles against the Raiders early on in the franchise’s history to a similar degree. We knew getting rid of the losing mentality and culture the team has endured since Super Bowl 50 wouldn’t be an easy task. Yet we had a right to expect better this season.
After all, when a franchise trades premium draft picks and pays a coach $18 million dollars a season—you might just have a reason to expect a bit better. A win on Sunday would be a step in the right direction to change things, but there’s little doubt that Denver has some major work to do to reforge their roster into a legitimate contender even if they do.
The Broncos have several good teams coming up in the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings matchups after the BYE week. Therefore it’s not unreasonable to assume they would be 2-8 heading into the final stretch come the end of November. There are a lot of bad teams in the National Football League this season, but that sort of record would legitimately put them in play for a top selection in this year’s draft.
I still think a Top 3 selection is unlikely, but at this point in time it appears a Top 10 pick is a virtual certainty. Especially if they suffer at least two losses over their next three games. With that in mind, I thought it would be apt and fun to discuss what kind of strategies would come into play if they secure a top pick. Here’s how I’m feeling as of right now.
A Franchise Quarterback — A Good Thing to Have
Some will disagree, but I think it’s safe to say Russell Wilson isn’t it. For my two cents, I believe the Broncos would be wise to move on from him after this season.
It’s possible the Broncos wind up with one of the top selections in the draft and could have their shot at Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, but if that isn’t a scenario—what should they do?
Perhaps Shedeur Sanders of Colorado or J.J. McCarthy of Michigan declare. I think the former heads back for one more season, but with all the stuff surfacing about the Wolverines program, McCarthy could very well throw his hat into the ring.
Is J.J. McCarthy one of the best players in college football? pic.twitter.com/XkzjF8egiX— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) October 20, 2023
I think he is a very good player and would be a nice consolation prize if Denver missed out on Williams or Maye. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a Top 5 guy by the time April rolls around. In a scenario where Denver is on the clock and he is available, they would be smart to not trade back and just take him if they believe he can be the future at the position.
But if quarterback isn’t a realistic option based on the board—what should they do?
Next On Deck — The Blue-Chip Prospects
When you are missing talent across the board, conventional wisdom says taking a blue-chip prospect regardless of position makes a lot of sense.
I feel there are two players considerably better than their peers outside of quarterback that Denver would be super lucky to have. Those would be Penn State offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. Both of them are elite prospects who check every box. Pick them would be a lot like when Denver took Patrick Surtain II with their first-round pick several years ago. They would be safe selections with very high floors who could become one of the best at their position in the league.
You can’t say that about 99-percent of guys in the draft. They just so happen to be prospects on the offensive side of the ball where Sean Payton is at his best acquiring and developing players. With ambiguity surrounding the futures of Garett Bolles at left tackle and the various question marks at wide receiver—either of those two would be great selections. That being said, that would mean Denver is picking in the Top 5—because that is precisely where those two are going to go.
Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Kalen King— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 22, 2023
The tape was even more lopsided than I expected pic.twitter.com/woI0KWN8TE
No QB or Blue-Chip Prospect with a Top 5 pick? — Trade Back
If the Broncos aren’t getting one of the guys mentioned above, I’m all about trading back. It’s the smartest decision to make considering they have been operating without first and second-round selections for the past three years.
Guys like Jared Verse, Brock Bowers, Joe Alt, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and Dallas Turner would still be on the board which would give Denver a ton of different directions to go. That’s a lot of top talent. All things considered, picking outside the Top 5 would still be great for Denver. Luckily, the 6-to-12 range of picks have experienced a lot of movement the past three drafts. In all likelihood, the Broncos would still be able to get a few more early picks in ‘24 or ‘25 to help their rebuilding efforts and still wind up with one of the players above. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Feel free to sound of in the comments section about how you would strategize and maneuver the draft if you were calling the shots. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process and what players you would like Denver to target.