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Drafting a lower-tier QB could pay big dividends for Broncos

Ken Pomponio Avatar
April 20, 2016

 

The 2016 NFL Draft officially will be a quarterback-dominated draft.

That much was cemented earlier Wednesday when the Philadelphia Eagles followed in the Los Angeles Rams’ footsteps and surrendered a bounty of capital to acquire a top-two pick in next week’s draft and the rights to select either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. In total, to move up into the top two – with two fourth-round picks and a sixth-round selection also thrown in – the Rams and Eagles surrendered a combined:

  • Four first-round picks
  • Two second-rounders
  • Three third-round selections
  • Two fourth-round choices

Yeah, yikes. Goff and Wentz need to turn out to be – at the very worst – above-average proficient before L.A. and Philly can at least claim to have broken even.

The Eagles’ move, meanwhile, harms the Broncos’ chances of acquiring or drafting a higher-level QB in the immediate future in a number of ways.

First, the San Francisco 49ers will now not be in position to get either Goff or Wentz and thus might be further inclined to hold onto Colin Kaepernick.

The same deal goes with the Browns and veteran QB Josh McCown.

Meanwhile, in the draft, the stock of the third-highest-rated QB on most boards, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, is now higher than ever, and don’t be shocked if he winds up going in the top-15 or even top-10 picks when all is said and done.

Many speculated that Wednesday’s trade would clear the way for Philly to deal Sam Bradford, but that would result in an $11 million 2016 cap charge for the Eagles if he’s dealt before June 2. Meanwhile, whoever acquired Bradford also would be acquiring his $10 million average annual base salary.

That doesn’t appear to be happening.

So what kind of QB hope remains for the Orange & Blue aside from the upcoming – and not-exactly-thrilling – visit by free-agent QB Brian Hoyer?

We turn back to the upcoming draft, and while the second- or third-tier of quarterback prospects don’t exactly appear sexy once you get beyond the top three of Goff, Wentz and Lynch, the real potential of finding a productive starter exists.

Recent draft history tells us as much.

Excluding last year’s draft – where we still don’t have a good read on the true values and long-term future prospects of the player selected – nine of the previous 15 drafts produced 11 lower-tier or lower-round QBs who wound up (or are on track to) become above-average NFL starters, many of them much better than the “can’t-miss” and “must-have” quarterbacks selected ahead of them. Judge for yourself:

  • 2014 – Derek Carr (Round 2, 36th overall, fourth QB selected)
  • 2012 – Russell Wilson (round 3, 75th overall, sixth QB selected)
  • 2011 – Andy Dalton (round 2, 35th overall; fifth QB selected); Kaepernick (round 2, 36th overall, sixth QB selected); Tyrod Taylor (Round 6, 180th overall, 11th QB selected)
  • 2007 – Drew Stanton (Round 2, 43rd overall, fifth QB selected)
  • 2006 – Jay Cutler (Round 1, 11th overall, third QB selected)
  • 2005 – Aaron Rodgers (Round 1, 24th overall, second QB selected)
  • 2002 – McCown (Round 3, 81st overall, fourth QB selected)
  • 2001 – Drew Brees (Round 2, 32nd overall, second QB selected)
  • 2000 – Tom Brady (Round 6, 199th overall, seventh QB selected)

Yeah, hey, we know the Bradys, Rodgers and Wilsons are the glaring exceptions, and most of the above still were among the first few quarterbacks drafted or selected among the top-50 picks overall. But they still were drafted after the JaMarcus Russells, Jake Lockers and Matt Leinarts, and few envisioned the respective reversals of fortune.

So, Broncos Country, definitely don’t cringe if the Orange & Blue draft a Connor Cook, Dak Prescott, Christian Hackenberg or Kevin Hogan long after the Big Three are gone.

Embrace the lottery ticket, realize its potential and hope it pays off a season or two down the road.

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