KUSA – Is the Broncos’ coaching staff breaking bread at a local steakhouse tonight with the guy they will draft first in 10 days?
A Broncos contingent is dining with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield on Monday night. John Elway, the Broncos’ general manager, is not attending the dinner. He has stayed consistent with the visiting top quarterback prospects by having lunch with them at the team’s UCHealth Training Center headquarters.
Elway had lunch with Josh Rosen and Josh Allen during their recent visits and is expected to have a mid-afternoon meal with Mayfield at team headquarters Tuesday. (The Broncos went to Sam Darnold in Los Angeles for a private workout).
Clearly, Mayfield is under strong consideration for the Broncos with their No. 5 overall draft pick.
He’s not the only one. Three other quarterbacks – Allen, Darnold and Rosen – plus running back Saquon Barkley, defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson are also high on the Broncos’ draft board.
Trading back from No. 5 is also an option.
Even though the Broncos signed free-agent quarterback Case Keenum last month with a two-year, $36 million that includes $18 million fully guaranteed in 2018 and another $7 million fully guaranteed of his $18 million salary in 2019, Elway is seriously considering acquiring another quarterback with his top draft pick.
The reasons for taking a quarterback: One, the team does not plan on picking as high as No. 5 again, so while it’s up this high in the draft, it must closely evaluate the top quarterbacks. And, two, this is a strong class of quarterbacks.
Reasons for not taking a quarterback: One, they already have one in Keenum, and they already have a recent first-round draft pick in backup quarterback Paxton Lynch.
Two, the Broncos were 5-11 last year, not 11-5. Another quarterback would be a luxury, a player who would sit behind Keenum for at least one season and maybe two. The Broncos need better players now if they’re going to climb from 5-11 in 2017 to 11-5 in 2018.
Three, at least two of the Big Four quarterbacks, and possibly three, will be gone by the time the Broncos are on the clock with their No. 5 pick. The Cleveland Browns will take a quarterback with either their No. 1 or No. 4 overall pick. And the Jets traded up from No. 6 to No. 3 for the intent purpose of taking a quarterback.
There’s also a strong chance the Buffalo Bills will move up from No. 12 to either the New York Giants’ slot at No. 2, or Cleveland’s spot at No. 4.
Mayfield has been linked with the Jets at No. 3. If he slides past, will the Broncos take him at No. 5? As you would expect – and even hope – the feelings about the Big Four quarterbacks is mixed among those occupying the upstairs’ offices at Dove Valley.
As much as any quarterback, Mayfield has an innate ability to move around and make plays when the play breaks down. He does have a strong, accurate arm from the pocket on intermediate throws. And his intangibles – most notably his confidence and fiery personality -- are off the charts.
The concern: He is a fraction shy of 6-foot-1, short by NFL quarterback standards. And while he moves well, he does not have the speed or quickness of Russell Wilson, another vertically challenged, but highly successful quarterback.
After dinner Monday night, Mayfield will be dropped off by a Broncos’ coach or staffer at a local hotel, then complete his visit at the team’s headquarters Tuesday morning. He will fly to Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon for a visit with the Arizona Cardinals. The final day for NFL pre-draft visits is Wednesday.