Since Hall of Famer Peyton Manning retired in 2016, 13 quarterbacks have started for the Denver Broncos. They might take an enormous risk in the NFL Draft to end their dysfunction.
In his latest mock draft, Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema predicted the Broncos would trade four draft picks (including two first-rounders) to the Washington Commanders to obtain the second overall pick and select North Carolina QB Drake Maye.
“I believe the market for quarterbacks in this draft will be red hot, and we’ll see that solidify after free agency,” wrote Sikkema. “Here, I have an aggressive [head coach] Sean Payton moving from No. 12 to No. 2 by giving up the same compensation package the 49ers offered to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 for Trey Lance in 2021.”
Maye is one of the best prospects in the class. ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid recently rated him as his second-best QB, comparing him to Los Angeles Chargers star Justin Herbert.
However, after the Russell Wilson trade, Denver should know unloading draft capital inhibits a franchise’s ability to stockpile talent. Young QBs rarely carry a team and need a strong supporting cast to grow and flourish.
Per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Denver is open to letting Wilson restructure his contract. After he was benched for the season’s final two games, though, it’s hard to imagine him wearing a Broncos jersey next season.
Backup QB Jarrett Stidham went 1-1 while he filled in for Wilson, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for two TDs and one interception.
Denver must find a franchise cornerstone to end its eight-year playoff drought, but it shouldn’t make a move that could exacerbate its downward spiral.
Instead of trading four draft picks, the Broncos could take a QB with the 12th pick, such as Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and sign a veteran to give him time to develop. Baker Mayfield enters free agency in March and could be a solid target for Denver.