It's finally here. NFL draft week has arrived and with it, the rumor mill has cranked out a fresh batch of buzz.
The Denver Broncos hold the No. 9 overall pick in the draft and just last week, GM George Paton talked about his confidence and comfortability with where the team sits currently, relative to the strategy of trading up or down — or even staying put.
"We’re picking at No. 9 and I really like that," Paton said last Thursday during his pre-draft presser at UCHealth Training Center. "I think we filled enough needs in free agency where we don’t have to reach for a player. We can take the best player within reason. We have the flexibility to move up, or we can move back."
Paton revealed then that the Broncos had yet to make a single call to explore trading up but that the phone has been ringing relative to moving back. However, if a prospect is there the GM covets, and it requires trading up to secure him, Paton hasn't precluded Denver from making a move.
"If we feel a player can help us and can upgrade us, and if we feel he’s worth going to get, we’re going to go get him," Paton said.
With that stage being set, we learned on Monday, courtesy of 104.3 The FAN's Cecil Lammey — co-host of the Nick and Cecil show — that Paton could be positioning the Broncos for a move up the board a couple of spots.
"Unless buzz changes/strengthens, moving a spot or two sounds about right for [the] Broncos - from what I understand, they have talked with Carolina/Detroit about the possibility. If buzz that New England is going to make [a] power move for [Ohio State QB Justin] Fields, then Denver reconsiders a move to 4,5,6," Lammey tweeted Monday.
In Mile High Huddle's annual War Room Mock Draft (see below), Fields was there at pick 9 and that's who was drafted. To half of Broncos Country, such an eventuality would engender a wellspring of excitement and optimism, while to the other half, the implications for Drew Lock would spell doom and gloom.
What the Broncos do on draft day will ultimately be informed by Paton's read on Lock. If the first-year GM truly sees Lock as a QB possessing "all the tools" a team covets in a future franchise guy, as Paton has said multiple times, the likelihood of the Broncos drafting a Fields, or Trey Lance, or Mac Jones is slim.
But if Paton's amorous rhetoric on Lock has been nothing more than a smokescreen to shield the Broncos from exposing their true intent, a QB could very much be in play in the top-10. The beauty of how Paton has played this offseason is that either option seems equally possible.
The Lions have done their level best to make their NFL peers believe they'll take a QB if "the right one falls" to pick 7, as reported by KOARadio's Benjamin Allbright. As MHH's Luke Patterson is fond of saying, 'tis the "season of lies" as NFL GMs roll up their collective sleeves to put on their best possible poker faces and suppress any indication of a strategic 'tell' before draft day.
Fortunately for the Broncos, Paton's poker game is on-point and has allowed him to cultivate the maximum amount of value in that No. 9 pick as possible, which is partly what made his revelation that he'd recently talked to the Miami Dolphins' GM — who currently holds the No. 6 overall pick — all the more curious.
"I spoke to [Dolphins GM] Chris [Grier] yesterday, but he wasn’t giving me any words of wisdom. We’re kind of competing," Paton said on Thursday.
During a radio appearance, 9NEWS' Mike Klis intimated on Monday that he can foresee the Broncos trading up but not beyond the No. 7 pick. Which is held by Detroit.
Much of how the board falls for Paton will be determined by teams behind the Broncos on draft day — like the Los Angeles Chargers, who currently hold pick 13 but are rumored to be eyeing a trade-up with Detroit at pick 7 to land Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. If a move or two like that is made, targeting a non-QB, it's possible a blue-chip signal-caller falls to the Broncos at pick 9, as Fields did in the MHH mock draft.
Time will tell. For now, it's a game of 'hurry up and wait' but at least all the agonizing and speculation for fans will soon come to an end as the first round of the draft kicks off on Thursday at 6pm MDT.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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