Although it falls short of breaking news, renowned NFL insider Peter King reported via his latest column that Drew Lock is anything but entrenched as the Denver Broncos starting quarterback for 2021.
King believes Denver "needs a QB of the future" — the implication being, it's not Lock — and, as such, new general manager George Paton could turn smoke into fire during the first round of the upcoming draft, slated to kick off Thursday, April 29.
"Denver, with the ninth pick in the draft, has had a presence at every pre-draft quarterback workout, new GM George Paton’s staff has been fact-finding up a storm with the top passers, and could be in play to pick a passer in the top 10. Could be in play, too, to trade the pick, with Paton schooled in the Vikings’ never-met-a-draft-trade-they-didn’t-like ethos. Whatever the Broncos do, Drew Lock’s hold on the starting job is tenuous," King wrote in his new Football Morning in America piece, released Monday.
"Denver needs a QB of the future, but the Broncos might be able to trade back for draft capital they can’t refuse."
A career-long scouting executive, Paton indeed did his homework on the top-heavy incoming class of signal-callers, personally attending the respective Pro Days of BYU's Zach Wilson, North Dakota State's Trey Lance, and Ohio State's Justin Fields. The Broncos also sent right-hand man Brian Stark, director of college scouting, to the Pro Day of Alabama's Mac Jones.
Wilson is expected to be drafted No. 2 to the New York Jets and Jones is likely to go a pick later to the San Francisco 49ers, barring an eleventh-hour change of heart. Fields or Lance should follow at No. 4, a choice currently held by Atlanta, which reportedly is interested in moving down on Day One.
Since taking the GM gig in January, Paton has thrown a modicum of support behind Lock, who completed 57.34% of his passes for 2,933 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions across 13 spotty appearances in 2020. But the tea leaves continue to suggest his successor arriving later this month, contingent on Denver surrendering premium capital to secure its preferred blue-chipper or merely lucking into one at nine.
Nobody inside or outside Dove Valley seems to have a bead on Paton nor his draft plans. It may be a quarterback. It may be a defensive player. It may be an anticlimatic trade-back into the mid-teens.
With 17 days to go until the annual offseason spectacle, all avenues remain open for exploration.
Follow Zack on Twitter @KelbermanNFL
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