INDIANAPOLIS — Standing at a podium inside the Indianapolis Convention Center for the 2022 NFL Combine, Denver Broncos general manager George Paton knew what was coming. There would be no audible in the conversation. The most relevant topic: What are the Broncos going to do at the quarterback position?
Denver Broncos News: George Paton must find the team’s franchise QB
In an AFC West division headlined by Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles Chargers strong-armed Pro Bowl passer Justin Herbert, the Broncos are trailing badly at the all-important quarterback position.
Paton could make an improvement via trade, even though a move for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is regarded by league sources not authorized to speak publicly as extremely unlikely, if not totally improbable based on the belief that Rodgers will remain in Green Bay.
Or he could turn to the NFL Draft. Paton met with Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, and Liberty quarterback Malik Willis for formal interviews Monday night. Paton knows he needs to upgrade the play under center. Drew Lock is under contract, but he’s been underwhelming, and Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent.
“I think it’s always a priority,” Paton said. “It’s the most important position in sports, so we’re always looking. We’re always looking. No stone unturned to find that guy. We know we need better play out of the quarterback position, so we’re going to be aggressive.
“We don’t care if it’s a trade. We’re just going to exhaust all options to try to get the best guy for the Broncos.”
Evaluating the QB draft class
Paton has extensively scouted the quarterback draft prospects. He plans to put a lot more time and resources into investigating each of the top passers here at the Combine.
“I think it’s another step in the process,” Paton said. “We got to look at them in the fall. I went to all their live games and you get to know a little bit there. The ones who show up at the Senior Bowl, you get to know them a little bit more there.
“This is just another step in the process. We’ll sit down with all of them and watch them compete. This class is an interesting class. You have five or six talented guys and they’re all different. We just really need to hone it down and sort it and stack and see who’s best for the Denver Broncos if we go that direction in the draft.”
Paton on Bradley Chubb
Paton addressed multiple topics, including the outlook of standout defensive end Bradley Chubb.
“I’m very confident,” Paton said. “He had two minor surgeries on the foot and that held him back this year. He was never healthy. Going into the offseason, this is the first time he’s been healthy in three years. When he’s healthy, he’s capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level. I really respect Bradley fighting through the injuries and finishing strong. We need to get more pressure on the quarterback and we plan on doing that.”
Complimentary of Eric Bieniemy
Paton used to work with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy with the Minnesota Vikings. Bieniemy has not landed a head coaching job despite interviewing for 15 NFL positions in recent years. He interviewed with the Broncos this year, but they hired Nathaniel Hackett. Bieniemy is back with the Chiefs under another one-year contract.
“I go way back with Eric, I consider him a good friend,” Paton said. “I’ve worked with him before. I think he’s a great coach. He’s got a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and Eric should be a head coach in this league that’s for sure.”
Broncos’ draft outlook
Weighing in on his draft philosophy, Paton emphasized that he’s willing to move up or back in the draft to find the best player or combination of players.
“I think you know me, we’re always going to be aggressive,” he said. “We’re always going to be disciplined. We’re always going to be willing to move up or move back. We do have 11 picks total, five in the first three rounds, so we do have that flexibility and we always like that flexibility.”
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