If Denver goes all-in for a veteran QB, what would the rest of the Broncos draft look like?

NFL Draft News

It’s nearly impossible to predict what Denver will do with its first-round pick because of the Broncos quarterback situation.

And don’t assume the Broncos have enough draft capital in this draft to pull off a trade for one of the premier signal-callers from another team.

Take last year’s Matthew Stafford trade as the most recent example. Los Angeles traded two first-round picks, a third-round pick and Jared Goff, a still-young QB just a few years removed from the Super Bowl.

So what would it take to pry away Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers or Seattle’s Russell Wilson?

Without a similar QB exchange – Drew Lock likely doesn’t have the same trade value that Goff did – then it’s going to cost even more picks. You could trade away this year’s first-round pick, both second-round picks and both third-round picks and still not come close, according to various trade charts.

Therefore, it’s going to take multiple first-rounders and at least one of this year’s second-round picks, if not both.

Lance Sanderson of FanNation’s Mile High Huddle speculates that it would take Denver’s first-round picks over the next two years, at least one of the Broncos 2022 second-rounders, a future Day 2 pick and probably a player who is still on a rookie contract.

And if that’s too rich for the Broncos’ taste?

They might not even have a shot at one of this year’s top QBs in the draft, especially if a team(s) trades up.

Broncos GM George Paton recently pinpointed four areas the Broncos will focus on in the offseason. Finding a franchise QB, of course, is priority 1A. After that, Paton said, the team needs to address its pass rush, run defense and its offensive line.

However, if Denver gives up much – or all – of its Days 1 and 2 picks to acquire a QB, then it’s going to be hard to address those other needs through the draft. Remember, most teams are happy to find two rookie starters in any draft. Three starters is a major success.

But finding starters after Day 2 is difficult, as there’s a point of diminishing returns the later you get into the draft.

So if the team lacks any or all of its premiere picks, then the Broncos are looking for players who can develop into a starter by years 2, or, more likely years 3 or 4.

Here’s what a Denver draft might look like if the team keeps only one of its first five picks. Keep in mind, most of these players will be available on Day 3.

Pass Rusher

Denver plays a 3-4 defense, so when Paton says the team needs a “pass rusher,” he likely means the Broncos need a pass-rushing outside linebacker, ala Von Miller. Of course, a player like Miller probably isn’t going to magically fall in Denver’s lap on Day 3.

However, this is a good year for pass rushers, so the team should be able to find a pass rusher a full round later than he would normally go any other year.

Potential Round 3 players:

Boye Maffe, Minnesota (ranked No. 79 in the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board); Dominique Robinson, Miami-Ohio (No. 94); DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky (No. 98); Josh Paschal, Kentucky (No. 102); Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma (No. 109).

Best fit:

It would be a surprise if Maffe fell this far, as he’s expected to test well this week at the Combine. However, he’s not quite yet the sum of his parts, so it’s possible he’s still available early in the third round. And if he is? Then he’s the best fit for Denver’s 3-4 defense. The only player on this list who might not fare well is Paschal, as he’s built more like a 4-3 base end or even as a 4-3 3-tech.

Potential Day 3 player:

Tyree Johnson, Texas A&M (No. 206): Johnson tied teammate DeMarvin Leal for the team lead this season with 8.5 sacks. At 6-foot-4, 240-pounds, Johnson has the right size and could push Malik Reed and Jonathon Cooper for playing time. At the very least, Johnson should work his way into the rotation before the end of his rookie year.

Run Defense

Denver defensive ends Shelby Harris and Dre’Mont Jones are coming off solid seasons, as Harris (6 sacks) and Jones (5.5 sacks) led the team in sacks. Harris, though, will be 31 by the time next season starts and Jones, a 2019 third-rounder, will be a free agent in 2023, so there’s not a lot of youth along the defensive line.

Overall, Denver allowed 1,892 yards on the ground last season, ranking them 15th in the league. They also gave up just 9 rushing TDs, which tied them with New England for the fewest TDs allowed.

Potential Round 3 players:

Zachary Carter, Florida (No. 117); Tre Williams, Arkansas (No. 137); Isaiah Thomas, Oklahoma (No. 148).

Best Fit:

By rankings alone, it would be a bit of a reach to draft Carter, Williams or Thomas in the third round. However, unless Denver signs a 5-tech DE in the offseason, then the Broncos are almost going to have to draft for need over best player available – and waiting until the fourth round for one of these players might be too risky. Either way, Carter is by far the best fit, as he has perfect size for the position (6-foot-4, 285-pounds) and is seen as having positional versatility. Williams played in a 3-3-5 front, while Thomas was used all over Oklahoma’s line, but they don’t quite have the girth that Carter has. Plus, both Williams and Thomas come with some off-field questions.

Potential Day 3 player:

Jayden Peevy, Texas A&M (No. 174): At 6-foot-6, 295-pounds, Peevy seems tailor-made for the position, with an added bonus: He’s also a good run stopper. You don’t necessarily need to take a 5-tech before Round 4, as you can typically find good prospects at the position capable of being an immediate contributor late in the draft.

Offensive line

Potential Round 3 players:

There aren’t too many tackles capable of starting as a rookie after Round 2. A few possibilities include Louisiana’s Max Mitchell (No. 74); Southern Utah’s Braxton Jones (No. 93) and Penn State’s Rasheed Walker (No. 96). The problem? All three could be drafted a full round earlier due to supply and demand for tackles. Either way, Denver needs to find a replacement for unrestricted free agent Bobby Massie in the offseason, whether it’s through the draft or in free agency.

Best fit:

Because he played in a tougher conference, Walker is the more battle-tested of the three and therefore may be the most likely to start as a rookie.

Potential Day 3 player:

Obinna Eze, TCU (No. 265): The 6-foot-8, 334-pound Memphis transfer will have to keep his weight down and isn’t the most athletic/nimble of the tackles, but he could potentially develop into a starter before his first contract is up. Just don’t expect Eze to “wow” anyone his rookie year.


What would a Denver draft look like without most of its picks in the first three rounds? Click here to find out!


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