The Denver Broncos were notified by the NFL on Saturday that every single quarterback on the roster has been ruled ineligible to play on Sunday with the New Orleans Saints in town after deemed 'high risk' exposures to Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
For now, signs point to the NFL strong-arming the Broncos into actually taking the field against an 8-2 Saints team without a quarterback. If indeed the Broncos have no choice but to do so, or else forfeit, the plan would be to play practice-squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at QB, according to KOARadio's Benjamin Allbright.
"Per team source: Looking more and more like former Wake QB and current Broncos PS WR Kendall Hinton will be Broncos QB tomorrow and NOT Royce Freeman per league source," Allbright tweeted Saturday evening.
Hinton-at-quarterback was confirmed by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, among others, shortly after Allbright's tweet. Setting the injustice of the NFL forcing the Broncos to play this game aside (especially after Denver bent over backward as the league accommodated New England during a similar crisis earlier in the season), what do fans need to know about Hinton?
The 6-foot, 190-pound Hinton was recruited to play quarterback at Wake Forest and did so throughout his first three years. He left high school as a three-star recruit, ranked as the No. 26 dual-threat QB according to Rivals.com.
Halfway through his junior campaign at Wake Forest, Hinton switched positions to wide receiver and played all of his senior year at wideout before entering the NFL draft as a wideout (though he went undrafted).
Here's what Mile High Huddle's Senior Draft Analyst Erick Trickel wrote about Hinton after the Broncos signed him as a college free agent earlier this year.
Hinton was very much a running quarterback with 186 rushing attempts to 251 passing attempts while at the position. With an 8-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio, it is easy to see why Wake Forest wanted to make a change at quarterback.
Hinton left the collegiate ranks with 1,504 passing yards and eight touchdowns, to those seven picks Trickel noted, while completing just 53% of his passes. Hinton also totaled 881 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns on the ground, while chipping in 1,062 receiving yards and four touchdowns in the 16 games he played wide receiver for the Demon Deacons.
If the Broncos are forced to play Hinton, only the Football Gods can divine what that would actually look like. I would expect it to see a lot of 'running quarterback' offensive looks, including zone/reads, run/pass options, and designed QB runs.
Even if Denver had been afforded just a few days of preparation with Hinton at QB, let alone a full week's worth of practice, there's no conceivable way this team could expect to field a competent offense with a player under center who hasn't throwing a meaningful pass in two calendar years.
Really, Hinton hasn't played quarterback since 2017. And that year, he only attempted 47 passes at Wake Forest. I honestly have no idea what the Broncos' offense will look like with Hinton under center, but what I can say with certainty is that going against an elite Saints' defense ranked No. 3 in total yards, No. 2 against the run, No. 11 against the pass, and top-10 in both takeaways and sacks, it will be ugly.
And it will be unfair.