Denver Broncos rookie general manager George Paton did his best to quell a distressed fan base's feelings of "quarterback anxiety" heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, where he may or not choose to unseat the team's incumbent under center.
“Yeah, I understand it. We do like Drew Lock. What we don’t want to do is force it and bring a guy in or overpay a guy to come in and he’s not as good as the guy we have and maybe he’s not good enough to compete," Paton said last week in his pre-draft press conference. "We want to get the right guy, and we still have time. There’s a trade market and we still have the draft. The landscape may change after the draft. If a team drafts one, maybe that quarterback is on the market. We’re going to be patient and not force it. We realize we want competition, and I’ve said that since I’ve gotten here. That hasn’t changed."
With mere hours remaining until Denver goes on the clock, Paton set the table for a rookie QB selection, hyping up Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance — "elite athletes with really strong arms" — and acknowledging this year's class is "very strong." The position is the "toughest to play in sports" and that's why "you need a good one."
Many interpreted that to mean the Broncos don't already have a "good one." Which is as subjective as subjective gets.
Paton, though, is as objective as objective gets. Although unwilling to crown Lock, his faith in the third-year pro remains "really high."
“I don’t know about Week 1, but we’re really high on Drew. I like seeing Drew here every morning when I come in. He’s working hard and trending in the right direction," Paton said. "As you know, he has a lot of talent. I think he’s becoming a better pro, but we’re still going to look at the quarterback position. I’ve said since I’ve gotten here that we want to bring in competition. That’s the goal, and we plan on doing that.”
Whether that plan alleviates the anxiety permeating throughout Broncos Country is not for Paton to diagnose. Draft picks aren't Xanax; quarterbacks aren't Klonopin. But at least he recognized the proverbial pink elephant inhabiting Dove Valley and how it hasn't moved since Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset.
Empathy never hurts.
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