Friday morning, Adam Schefter broke the news that the San Francisco 49ers would be making a trade with the Miami Dolphins to acquire the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, likely for a quarterback.
In doing so, they have leapfrogged several teams with similar needs, including the Denver Broncos.
At this point, it appears the top three teams in the NFL Draft have solidified their position and will not be moving and the speculation is that they are all hungry for quarterbacks. The Trevor Lawrence to Jacksonville talk seems legitimate, and after Zach Wilson’s pro day on Friday, he appears to be the favorite to land with the Jets at pick No. 2. If this is what acually transpires on April 29th, it would leave the Broncos in an interesting conundrum if they have their sights set on a passer.
What we don’t know is, who Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers personnel love so much that they would go full Oprah, and start giving away picks like it was one of her “Favorite Things” episodes.
“You get a first-rounder, and you get a first-rounder.”
Justin Fields would seem to be a safe bet. With great size (listed at 6’3” and 228lbs) and fantastic arm talent, they could want the former Buckeye to take the reigns in San Francisco. Some analysts, like NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, think Fields has the potential to be a franchise-changing quarterback.
In two seasons with the Ohio State Buckeyes he managed to pass for over 5,300 yards, had 63 passing touchdowns and only nine interceptions. That is a rate of seven touchdowns per interception.
Despite how intriguing he is, Fields’ ties to the Broncos aren’t clear as of now.
Another interesting prospect San Francisco could covet is the quarterback out of North Dakota State, Trey Lance.
Unlike Fields, Lance has been linked to the Broncos in many conversations and Denver general manager George Paton personally attended his Pro Day earlier this month. His showing was impressive and certainly turned some skeptics into believers.
Also, while it may surprise some folks, the selection very well could be Mac Jones of Alabama. Kyle Shanahan may not want to invest in a project like Fields and Lance and instead want a player who is more pro-ready. Jones would fit that profile and, even though his physical tools may not stand out like the others, the 49ers brass may see a player they can win with right now.
In theory, the 49ers could go another direction with this pick, but at this point that seems highly unlikely, making the Broncos’ journey to land one of these exceedingly-desired quarterbacks a grueling one, if that indeed is their goal.
A number of teams selecting ahead of Denver would also like to end up with one of these talented players, such as; Atlanta (currently selecting fourth), Carolina (selecting eighth) or even Detroit (selecting seventh). Though it should be noted, by restructuring Matt Ryan’s contract, the Falcons have made it almost impossible to move off the trusty veteran either this off-season or next.
Getting ahead of those teams (and staying ahead of New England, lurking at the 15th selection), for either the fourth or fifth-best quarterback prospect, would take quite the spending spree. At that point, Paton would need to do some serious soul searching to determine if that is the trigger he wants to pull, as the new sheriff in town.
Denver has the assets to trade up and arguably has more value to offer Atlanta, than Carolina, Detroit, or New England, though the price would have to be right. Not only that, but the Panthers share a division with the Falcons so brokering a trade scenario between them might feel more like football heresy than anything.
This year’s draft class is rife with talented players, and frankly not just at the quarterback position, but we all know it is the most important position on the field. It appears the only way to make sure you land one of these top prospects would be to make a move and trade up because so much could change between the fourth overall pick and the Broncos’ pick at nine. Clearly, others are willing to pay that price, and with gusto.
It will be interesting to see if the Denver Broncos are one of those teams.