If the Denver Broncos want a top-end quarterback from this year's hyped draft class, and it's very possible they do, rookie general manager George Paton likely will need to leapfrog several others in front of them, parting with several first-round picks in the process.
Which is exactly what one NFL insider expects Denver to do.
In his new 2021 mock exercise, published Thursday, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer projected the Broncos acquiring the No. 3 overall choice from the Miami Dolphins, which they would use to secure Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Curveball! Carolina and New England could make moves up, too. But new Denver GM George Paton has been on the ground at the quarterback pro days, and I’m not ruling out a big first statement from the new guy in charge. The Dolphins will receive the Broncos’ No. 9 pick below.
Unfortunately for Breer, who did not specify the undoubtedly massive haul that Miami receives in this hypothetical deal, there is now no chance this hypothetical deal actually materializes. That's because, on Friday, the Dolphins executed a pair of bombshell maneuvers, sending the No. 3 pick to San Francisco and shipping the 49ers' incoming selection, No. 12 overall, to Philadelphia in exchange for the No. 6 pick. (Additional mid-round and future choices were also swapped.)
The latest scuttlebutt suggests an early run on QBs, with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence slotted to Jacksonville, BYU's Zach Wilson to the Jets, and North Dakota State's Trey Lance to San Francisco. Fields, meanwhile, has been a rumored target of the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4 as ESPN's Adam Schefter previously guaranteed that four signal-callers would come off the board in the top-10.
But the point remains: those in the know believe Paton could be readying a Round 1 splash. And this isn't the first time his club has been linked to Fields, a former Heisman Trophy finalist who's drawn pro comparisons ranging from Deshaun Watson to Dak Prescott — and whose old coach characterized his dual-threat abilities as "generational talent."
“He might mess up a little bit, but I think he is the kind of guy who can take over a game very quickly with his athleticism and his arm," ex-Georgia head coach Jim Donnan said in 2018, when Fields was a freshman.
Paton has kept his cards close to his vest as it pertains to the sport's most crucial position. He's leaving all avenues open, throwing support behind incumbent Broncos starter Drew Lock while personally scouting Lance and Wilson at their respective Pro Days. It's unclear if he plans to attend Fields' Pro Day, scheduled for March 30.
However, the longer Paton goes without adding a veteran mentor/insurance policy behind Lock, the better the odds that a successor arrives on April 29.
“We’re open to any position with that first pick," he said during a press conference earlier this month. "We’re going to take the best player that can help this football team. Quarterback, safety—it doesn’t matter what player and what position. If it’s the best player on the board, we’re going to take him.”
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