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Five potential quarterback draft options for the Broncos future

Andre Simone Avatar
April 14, 2016

 

Welcome to our second installment of draft needs, where we try to suggest possible replacements for the Broncos biggest holes.

After talking about the D-Line and potential Malik Jackson replacements it’s time to search for quarterbacks of the future. This is an interesting QB class with lots of high potential developmental talents. If you pick the right one you might just strike gold, it’s that type of group. Like every year, there are no sure things amongst the Quarterback class especially for a team like Denver picking at the end of the 1st round.

Much like with the D-Lineman class we’ll be looking at prospects who can both fit the Broncos systems and potentially will be available at the Broncos pick.

First round options

Paxton Lynch

Where to start with Paxton Lynch? He truly is one of the more unique and unusual draft prospects you’ll learn about, primarily because his journey to major college football is different from most and because despite great success in the 2015 season his tape is almost “a tale of two seasons”.

First off, Lynch is extremely raw, definitely the rawest of the players on this list. This is in large part because Lynch didn’t play at a big high school, and wasn’t a hot-shot recruit. He hasn’t attended specialized training camps from the time he was in middle school like so many of these kids do these days.

Lynch arrived at Memphis and took over the starting job in 2013. He has flashed high-end potential since then. He peaked this last season leading Memphis to a top 25 ranking and completing the upset of Ole Miss. Here’s the thing about Lynch’s 2015 season, (though people started paying attention after the Ole Miss win, and the hype train started to go off the rails) Lynch didn’t complete many NFL throws against Ole Miss or the better defenses he faced in conference play.  In fact, the second half of Lynch’s 2015 season is very hard to project. While at the beginning of the year, Lynch was unleashing his big arm downfield and making NFL throws down the sideline and in tight windows, he and the Memphis offense started to go to a much heavier screen and short passing game. Add the fact that Lynch was always playing out of the shotgun and in a high-tempo spread offense, and his second half of the season has very few deep or tight window throws. Mostly, he would settle on short passes or scramble around and creates space, to then throw it to an open receiver. All this is to say, it’s unclear what Paxton Lynch the Broncos would be getting the one who’s tools and potential is mouth-watering, that we saw in the first half of 2015, or the screen happy QB we saw in the second half of the season, which all came to a disastrous crash in the performance against Auburn in the bowl game.

These are major concerns and Lynch is a major gamble in this sense. Lynch’s raw tools are very intriguing; he has a cannon of an arm which you see in the easy velocity and air he’s able to create on deep throws, and also on the zip he’ll put on passes down the middle in tight spaces. Though his release isn’t picture perfect, he both winds and releases low (not what you’d like from a tall QB) he does get the ball out quick. Since going back to study early tape of Lynch, I’ve become more of a fan of his accuracy, especially on deep throws, though this is definitely an area he’ll still have to work on.  On the other hand, Lynch has so many areas to work on, think of every skill that makes Tom Brady great, accuracy ability to read a defense quickly, poise in the pocket etc. these are all weak points for Lynch. First and foremost, he’ll have some major adjustments to make from the spread offense he’s coming from to a more conventional pro-style offense. He wasn’t asked to do any pre-snap audibles, line adjustments, or any other pre-snap responsibilities, he’ll have a steep learning curve. His footwork is a complete work in progress, he’s a very good athlete at his size and throws well on the run, but he needs to work on his drops as well as keeping his feet active in the pocket and navigating a moving pocket. That on top of this weird tape makes Lynch a big question mark, though it’s undeniable that he has lots of the raw tools that would especially look nice in Kubiak’s offense.

Connor Cook

Unlike Lynch, Cook is a much more conventional case. He’s been a household name for College Football fans for three years now and has played in a winning program and within a pro-style offense.

Cook flashes NFL throws and has throughout his career.  He’s much more advanced than many of these prospects given his experience, the offense, and competition he’s had to play against. The thing about Cook is that he’s never taken that next step in his development. Three years ago, he seemed primed to break out and have a Heisman type season, this never happened in 2014 or 2015. Cook is too often happy to just be a game manager and not take over like a talented leader should. He flashes NFL throws but is wildly inconsistent, his accuracy has never been at 60% for his career (a major concern) and his arm strength is questionable, as he was the only QB at the combine to not reach 60 miles per hour on his ball velocity.

Cook has the upside of an NFL starter, but whether he’ll ever be an above average starter or take that next step in his production is doubtful. He’s a safe pick (assuming all the off-field concerns are untrue or wildly exaggerated) but his lack of playmaking skills and killer instinct makes him a very unattractive and boring pick with limited upside at the next level.

Second round on

Jacoby Brissett

The developmental QB I’d take a shot on would be Brissett, the former Florida transfer who has flashed some really nice throws throughout his career. Brissett is a big quarterback with the arm strength and mobility to succeed in the NFL. He’s a very tough competitor and often tries to extend the play and create something out of nothing. With pressure in his face, he never gives up.

However, Brissett has also been frustratingly inconsistent from one snap to the other. He’ll make a great NFL throw with pressure in his face in a tight window, and use great ball placement, but then the very next play he’ll overthrow an open receiver by 10 yards. Brissett plays with a never say die attitude, he puts his team on his shoulders, and sometimes even forces a play because of this.

The strengths Brissett shows outweigh his weaknesses in this analyst’s opinion.  If he’s able to be more consistent there’s some definite starter potential to him. The Broncos might be reaching if they were to take Jacoby at the end of the 2nd round, but he might not be around at the end of the 3rd. His mobility, ability to throw on the run and the pro-style system he comes from should all allow him to fit well in Kubiak’s offense and be able to play in the league sooner than many may think.

Dak Prescott

Throughout this draft process, few prospects have been linked to the Broncos as much as Prescott has. The former Mississippi State star is quite interesting, as he’s gone from a true duel threat running quarterback to becoming a much more accomplished and trusted passer over the course of the 2015 season.

Prescott has a compact build, almost like a fullback, he’ a powerful runner, and succeeded in these types of plays often in his college career. He’s shown great poise in the pocket over the course of last season and his throwing motion has become more compact while his release has become faster. He’s shown some good accuracy and touch and even flashed some nice throws down the sideline. Prescott has also been a top college performer in the SEC he doesn’t shy away from the challenge.

He isn’t your typical signal-caller prospect, though. His release is still a bit slow and windy, and I’m still not sold that his arm is that of a potential top NFL quarterback. Prescott also comes from the same offense that turned Tim Tebow into a college phenom, and will have to adjust to a more pro-style attack.

Recently, Prescott was charged with a DUI which should hinder his stock. He’s on the second to third round bubble and has some nice tools, though his upside as a pure passer might be a bit limited.

Late round sleeper

Vernon Adams Jr

The former Eastern Washington star deserves to be talked about here. Adams isn’t very hyped because he’s undersized and this is a major concern, but he’s simply succeeded at every level he’s played despite this. While at Eastern Washington he became one of the FCS’s best players and was absolutely amazing against power-5 competition like Washington in 2014 (the Huskies were loaded with NFL talent and had three 1st rounders on that defense).  He went to Oregon last year and was excellent in the second half of the season when fully healthy.   Having shown more comfort in his new offense, he then went to the East-West Shrine game and was the MVP.

This isn’t to say that Adams is the next Russell Wilson (a comparison that is unfair and you’ll hear way too much of), but it’s enough to accurately say that the kid has overcome his size deficiencies at every level and succeeded despite of it. Why assume he won’t be able to do it in the NFL?

Adams comes from a spread offense and is a true playmaker when scrambling and making plays with his feet. He does, however, almost always look to extend the play with his feet and make a throw.  He scrambles to throw, not to run, and this is an important distinction. Adams has shown NFL ability on throws down the sideline throughout his collegiate career.

Adams is undoubtedly a work in progress given the offense he comes from, his size limitations, and the fact that he’ll have to work on the small details of the quarterback position. Though he definitely has the talent to be on an NFL roster and would be worth a later round lottery ticket.

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