INDIANAPOLIS — Quarterbacks do not have to be selected with the No. 10 overall draft choice alone.
There are strong hints the Broncos will not use their No.10 pick on a quarterback come the NFL Draft’s first round on April 25. The Broncos did not acquire Joe Flacco and his $18.5 million salary with the idea of grooming a first-round rookie and then giving way at the season’s halfway point – as he did last year in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson.
Then there is general manager John Elway’s surprising preference to bring Case Keenum back on a demotion and a pay cut.
Still, every NFL franchise needs a quarterback to bring along through its farm system. In 2015, the Broncos used a seventh-round draft pick on Trevor Siemian and stashed him for a year behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler.
It wasn’t his fault that a year later, Manning and Osweiler were gone and Siemian beat out veteran Mark Sanchez and first-round rookie Paxton Lynch for the starting job.
With Lynch and Chad Kelly -- another quarterback the Broncos used a 7th-round pick on – going bust, the Broncos must get a young replacement somewhere in rounds two through seven in the upcoming draft. Don’t they?
“Sure, we always like to find one,’’ Elway said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS here Wednesday. “No doubt, but we’ve got to believe that that’s the one who has the ability to develop.
“So it’s not what the press talks about where this guy is going to go in the third round, or fourth round or whatnot. We have to go through that process, us as an organization, and say, “OK, is that guy going to fit what we do?’ And get him in a situation where we can train him for a year or two or three years -- depending on how long it takes -- and hopefully he can be that guy. Whether he’s a top 5 quarterback or top 10, we want a quarterback who can win for us.’’
Among the quarterbacks who will be around after the first round and who might fit the Broncos’ profile: North Carolina State’s Ryan Findley, Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, Boise State’s Brett Rypien and Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson.
Elway was asked by 9NEWS where he thought the draft was the strongest. He didn’t hesitate.
“The defensive front,’’ he said. “There’s a lot of good pass rushers and the defensive line is strong, as well as in free agency. There’s a lot of outside linebackers and rush ends in free agency.’’
The Broncos are expected to replace Domata Peko at nose tackle and backup defensive lineman Zach Kerr is also a free agent.
From their own list of 14 unrestricted free agents, the Broncos have identified offensive lineman Billy Turner as the one they’d most like to head off before the market negotiating window opens on March 11.
“Very versatile,’’ Elway said of the blocker who started four games at right tackle and seven at left guard last season. “He can do a lot of different things for us. We asked him to do a lot of different things. He played all four positions along the offensive line other than center.
“We think he’s very versatile, but we also think he can come in and compete as a tackle and with what we’re going to do offensively, he’s a good fit for us. We’ve got a great deal of respect for Billy and hopefully we get something done with him.’’