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George Paton addresses his controversial comments surrounding the quarterback position

Zac Stevens Avatar
August 12, 2021

EAGAN, Minn. — George Paton had the NFL community, specifically Broncos Country, buzzing earlier in the week.

In Peter King’s Football Morning in America, the Broncos’ new general manager left many scratching their heads when discussing the quarterback position.

“Paton gets knocked for not choosing Justin Fields or Mac Jones with his first first-round pick ever last April (he took Alabama cornerback Pat Surtain), and he’ll have to live with the results. But he wasn’t convinced Fields or Jones would be a franchise quarterback; had he been, he probably would have taken one. He’d been watching Surtain in college for three years, and he was sure that the son of the former NFL cornerback could be a combination cover/physical corner in a league hungry for versatile cover players. Finally, he felt a duty to the franchise to give Lock a legitimate shot to be the long-term guy after predecessor John Elway picked him 42nd overall two years ago. So, he could have taken the plunge for a quarterback he liked but didn’t love, and chose to pick a surer thing at a lesser position—but an important position nonetheless.”

Then came the controversial statement.

“Plus—and this is not why we did it [draft Surtain]—but quarterbacks are available more than franchise corners every year, at least the last couple of years,” said Paton.

After days of questions swirling around why Paton believes quarterbacks are available more than franchise corners, he addressed it before the Broncos’ second joint practice with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

“I’ve said before, the quarterback position is the most important position in sports so I hope that didn’t get [mis]construed with that comment,” Paton said on Thursday, when asked about his comments to King.

Denver’s general manager added that “didn’t have any impact” in the Broncos decision to draft Surtain over Fields and Jones with the ninth-overall pick.

“We made our decision because we thought Pat Surtain was the best player at that time in the draft,” Paton added. “We took him, we’re happy, we’re moving on. We liked the other players, we hope they do well, we wish them well—but for our team, at that time, it was Pat Surtain.”

Paton later added the quarterback position is of “high importance” to him and that he is comfortable with the “hell of a competition” the Broncos have between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater

“I’m not panicked. I’m not panicked about the quarterback position. I like our two quarterbacks,” Paton added. “We do think we have two really good quarterbacks here. We may have [a foundational quarterback] here. We’re not panicking. We’re going to build this team with foundational players and hopefully we have a foundational quarterback here in our group.”

In Paton’s eyes, a foundation quarterback is someone who can win games on their own, regardless of the players surrounding them.

With nearly two weeks worth of training camp practices in the books, Paton said Lock has won some practices, while Bridgewater has won other days. According to the general manager, there isn’t a timeframe for naming a starting quarterback. Instead, Paton wants it the “happen organically.”

“I think we’re on the right track with both of these quarterbacks,” he said.

Once again, Paton stated Vic Fangio will ultimately make the decision.

While the head coach will make the decision on who starts at quarterback for the 2021 season, Paton, much like he did this year, will be in charge of deciding what quarterbacks will be on the roster. Thursday, he made it clear that position is the most important in sports.

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