With the 2021 NFL Draft just two weeks away, the rumor mill is spinning faster than pro day 40-yard dash times. The arms race for quarterbacks has helped fuel those rumors, with the Denver Broncos as one of the teams reportedly in the mix for a new passer. While they may indeed target a signal-caller, don’t expect the Broncos to trade up to find their next franchise quarterback, according to Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Draft Analyst Tony Pauline.
Speaking on the April 14 episode of Draft Insiders, Pauline told PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo:
“The belief right now is they’re probably going to sit at nine and wait for the draft to come to them. If one of the top quarterbacks falls in their laps, that’s the way they’re going to go. I’ve not heard much about Denver moving up to get any of the quarterbacks at this point.”
Be sure to join PFN Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline every week on Draft Insiders as they break down all you need to know heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Subscribe to our PFN YouTube channel and hit the notifications icon so you can tune in live every Wednesday at 9 PM ET.
The race to secure a quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft is unprecedented. There’s a growing possibility that the first four picks are QBs. That has never occurred since the inception of the league. A never-before-seen demand for quality passers fuels the situation. Nearly half of the 32 NFL teams will start new faces at the helm of the offense in September.
Rumors linking the Broncos to a quarterback in the NFL Draft gathered pace after a disappointing 5-11 campaign last season. A franchise with a once-proud tradition at the position boasted names such as Peyton Manning and John Elway. However, the Broncos have endured turbulence under center in recent seasons. Drew Lock was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft to be the next great Broncos quarterback.
Yet, greatness has eluded the former Missouri quarterback thus far. His poor play has added credence to the rumors that the Broncos could be in the QB market this year. Despite this potential need, Denver does not need to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft. They made that mistake once before with Paxton Lynch. At the top of the draft, the stakes are even higher.
Denver is more likely to trade down than up in the 2021 NFL Draft
The cost of trading up to the fourth spot — currently inhabited by the Atlanta Falcons — to land one of Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones is likely too rich for the Broncos. This makes the No. 9 selection a potential pivoting point in how the draft plays out, as Pauline explains.
“Everyone talks about Atlanta moving down, Atlanta wanting to trade the pick. But, I think the Denver Broncos at No. 9 could be a flashpoint in the first round. There’s still a possibility of a trade. You’ve got Washington, you’ve got Chicago, that need quarterbacks. You’ve even got the Patriots. When you look at what it’s going to cost for any of those teams to move up to the No. 4 slot — that market, that value, has already been dictated by what the San Francisco 49ers gave away to the Miami Dolphins — that’s a steep price.”
There appears to be a consensus that if Fields or Lance is available, the Broncos pull the trigger
If Jones is the only first-round caliber QB still on the board, Denver likely passes on the position. That would play into the hands of a trade, especially with a team like New England. The Patriots are one of the teams reportedly very high on Jones. Additionally, New England’s uncharacteristic free-agency moves point to the potential for a rare first-round trade up if their “guy” is available.
It seems almost inevitable that we see another quarterback-linked trade up. At least for now, it doesn’t appear that the Broncos will be the ones to make that leap in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pauline concluded, “If there’s a good quarterback there for Denver at No. 9, I think they take the quarterback with the outside chance they look to trade with one of those teams [Washington, Chicago, New England].”
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.