Just like that, the NFL world changed.
Much like the NFL design landscape completely changed in 2018 when the New York Jets skipped the Denver Broncos to switch from pick # 6 to pick # 3 in a deal with the Indianapolis Colts – back when John Elway called “heart eyes” owned by Sam Darnold – The San Francisco 49ers just made a deal with pick # 12 on # 3 on the 2021 draft in a deal with the Miami Dolphins.
The Niners advance for a quarterback.
The Dolphins went 12th and back 6th with an escort deal with the Philadelphia Eagles after they recently made a top 5 pick for QB Tua Tagovailoa in 2020 and everything stalled regarding Deshaun Watson ( Allegations of sexual misconduct).
When you get from # 3 to # 12 and back to # 6, the Dolphins are back within reach for blue-chip talent like Oregon OT Penei Sewell, Florida TE Kyle Pitts, or one of this year’s Big 3 to select. at Wide Receiver in Alabama’s Jalen Waddle, Devonta Smith or Ja’Marr Chase from LSU.
Where do these tectonic businesses leave Denver?
It depends on how the Broncos really see Drew Lock. Denver is now in the weird position of not having immediate, urgent roster requests while being a team that is little more than an afterthought into the NFL landscape.
The national perspective on the Broncos is determined in part by their quarterback position, especially when compared to the division enemies of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. The Broncos could still opt for a quarterback, however.
The first three picks of the draft are now written in pen form, with Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence 1st in the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson 2nd in the New York Jets and Trey Lance 3rd in the Niners QBs like Mac Jones of Alabama or Justin Fields of Ohio State may also be considered, but given the current league consensus, Lance should be the favorite.
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All eyes will fall on the Atlanta Falcons at pick # 4
Will the Falcons take a quarterback or rather move from fourth place to a team that wants to move up? Given that the Falcons have just restructured longtime QB Matt Ryan’s contract, some might suspect that it doesn’t make sense for Atlanta to opt for a signal caller.
Given how rare the top of this class of quarterback is talented and how valuable it is to have a cost-controlled quarterback in today’s NFL, maybe Atlanta will make a big picture of adding a quarterback under a new combination of general manager and head coach The team wouldn’t have a chance in the future.
Is it possible for quarterbacks to pick 1-2-3-4 for the first time in NFL history? Not only does this seem possible, it is also becoming more and more likely. The teams selected mid-to-finish in the first round of this draft essentially threw in the towel in the form of the Chicago Bears that Andy Dalton and the Washington Football team signed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick and them in some way Leaving quarterback purgatory behind.
The Purgatory teams are a fair warning to the Broncos given the strength of the current roster for 2021, even if Lock is back to a bottom 5 quarterback in the NFL next season. Given that teams are beginning to understand the value of a cost-controlled rookie quarterback, it cannot be ruled out that signal callers who get off the board earlier than in previous years and form more clusters at the top may not become a trend .
Any doubts about the incumbent? Get your QB
If you are at the top and have questions about your QB, now is the time to level up as there is no guarantee that you will be close enough for the next year. Denver may already have missed this boat due to Friday’s spate of blockbuster draft trades.
Given the price the Niners just paid, the Jets are turning down the trade offers for the number 2 altogether (they go on QB). All indications are that the 2022 NFL quarterback class is decrepit compared to the top of their 2021 class.
What is Denver doing now? It really comes down to what happens to Atlanta in fourth place overall. If a quarterback Denver likes from the Big Four (or the Big Five, depending on who you ask) is there with Atlanta’s current draft slot and the Falcons are ready to act, the Broncos could get a big boost do.
One of Fields, Lance, or Jones within Denver’s reach
USA TODAY Sports
In essence, Denver can take Lawrence and Wilson off the board, but either Fields, Lance, or Jones will be in fourth place. If Atlanta isn’t ready to leave in 4th place, or Denver doesn’t think the price is reasonable, the Broncos should hope and pray that either Sewell or Pitts will be the only blue-chip prospects in this class to drop 9th.
That’s unlikely, but given Sewell’s year-long bond in Oregon and some in the league favoring northwestern OT Rashaun Slater, as well as the tight end Pitts is playing a “devalued” position, those two could be pushed further down. If both are there, choose # 9, Paton shouldn’t overthink it.
Expect a trade down when the Big Four are gone
What fans are more likely to see, however, is the decline in the Broncos, provided GM George Paton can find a willing partner. That would take another team trying to trade for it, and Dever trading is more workable in theory than it is in reality, but that’s what Paton should hope for in this scenario.
If traded down, the Broncos are unlikely to get the value the Dolphins just received, especially if the trade doesn’t involve a team moving up for QB (unlikely given how much Carolina you have on pick # 8 would like to). What would the Broncos’ goal be in a trade down?
Focus on the future
Given how well Paton has filled out the roster for 2021, eyes should be on 2022 where the Broncos have a number of players eager to choose. Veterans like Von Miller, Bryce Callahan, Kareem Jackson, Kyle Fuller, Josey Jewell, Alexander Johnson, Melvin Gordon and (most likely due to his injury history and contract structure) Ja’Wuan James could continue next year.
This means that in the event of a trade down, the Broncos can plan for the future by targeting value positions and pegging preventive holes a year prior to exposure. The goal is edge rusher, offensive tackle, and cornerback as these are three of the highest paying positions in the NFL. It usually takes a year for potential players to play these spots.
It’s just a good long-term rostering strategy not to have to rely on an edge rusher, tackle, or corner in your rookie year and have them up and running (and cheap when there are four years of control left) . In reality, the Broncos are now in a place of concern.
Despite statistical improbability, Lock could still go around the corner
It would take a historic turnaround and runaway start in his career for Lock to develop and eventually become the quarterback the Broncos need to be real contenders. Sure, the Broncos could be good for a year on this defense, but the year-to-year defense is volatile.
Look no further than how the years after the Bears 2018, the Jaguars 2017 and the Niners 2019 turned out for you. Large defenses quickly return to the mean.
Without a quarterback, a team’s window closes in a flash, which is why the Niners originally ranked 12th in a top-heavy quarterback class and were willing to pay such a high price to trade by age five and get an elite perspective of cost control at the position.
Paton has done a great job so far this offseason filling out the Broncos roster, but living in today’s NFL without a top 5 quarterback (or a top 10-15 quarterback on a rookie contract) is the equivalent of soccer -Nihilism. Without the quarterback crossing a certain threshold, your team is not considering the big NFL picture.
It’s a league where you have quarterback or not, and if you don’t have The Guy, good luck.
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