Ranking best, worst scenarios for Broncos

Ranking best, worst scenarios for Broncos in free agency, draft

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So…you want to talk about A.J. McCarron? 🙂

Kidding, kidding.

The greatest thing about this time of the offseason is that there are so many possibilities with how the team could look in a few months, but each potential scenario is highly fluid and dependent on a single move – or not – in free agency to set it all in motion.

And this season, perhaps more than many in the recent past, has the Broncos looking down a slew of potential paths, depending on which domino falls first.

Does Kirk Cousins really come to Denver, necessitating a fire sale of elite-but-expensive talent while looking to the draft to bring in a top-notch running back and corner?

Does a different veteran QB come to Denver, still requiring some elite wide receiver talent but dictating greater need for a free agent tackle just to be safe? Will this translate into getting a better-than-last-year-but-still-mediocre offense yet keeping an elite defense?

Do the Broncos go all in on a rookie quarterback and set the rebuilding in motion now, accepting certain mediocrity in hopes of dazzling dominance in a year or two?

Will Joe Thomas ever leave the Browns? (ok, that one isn’t so intriguing at this point).

So many choices. So silly to get worked up speculating on different scenarios.

But why should that stop us? Speculation in a long offseason is all we’ve really got, after all.

While I’m envious of those of you who feel strongly one way or the other on the Cousins v. Draft Pick v. Other QB debate, being wishy-washy on this one allows me to accept whatever outcome we end up with much easier. But I certainly have some preferences, so let’s start there.

Favorite free agency v. draft scenarios
1 – Broncos sign Kirk Cousins; trade down for more first-round picks

Prior to news that Broncos could consider trading down with the Bills, giving up their No. 5 pick for Buffalo’s No. 21 and 22 picks, I would have argued for signing Cousins and drafting Saquon Barkley (partly because Ian St. Clair and Adam Malnati made a nice argument for this on a recent podcast but ALSO because every team should have a player with as cool a name as Saquon).

But the idea of getting two guys in the first round along with a top-tier QB like Cousins really seems more and more like a no-brainer.

This kind of scenario could yield the Broncos a solid quarterback plus some O-line talent like Will Hernandez or Orlando Brown and maybe fortify the defense with a linebacker or wide receiver (in my best-case scenario, Broncos keep Aqib Talib and let Emmanuel Sanders walk if they need to reserve cash/cap space for Cousins).

2 – Broncos sign Cousins; draft Saquon Barkley at No. 5

I do like this pairing. Bringing in Cousins and then having a likely game-changer in the run game would be about the best “fix” for the Broncos’ offensive woes as it would truly have a “1-2 punch” effect.

With Cousins plus a top running back like Barkley, Broncos probably don’t need both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but likely do need one of their paychecks back. Unloading Sanders and keeping DT – maybe even restructuring D.T.’s contract – unfortunately means losing a great receiver. But it also means unloading a bit of a lockerroom diva who has frequently been hurt and is certainly not getting any younger.

With the offense in much better shape after the first round, the Broncos could focus on O-line and filling a few defensive holes at linebacker, interior lineman and possibly in the secondary as well.

3 – Draft Baker Mayfield and hold on for a bumpy-at-first ride

It’s been a long time since Broncos rolled with a rookie that “went all in” on and held on through the lows but rejoiced as the highs came closer and closer together.

Pretty much hasn’t happened since 1983.

And if it weren’t for Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. – two players who have been Broncos from day one, have anchored this elite defense and who deserve better than being on a team taking its lumps with a rookie – I would probably love this scenario the most.

I have to admit to not having watched film on any of the other top QB draft picks, other than random tweets with random videos of throws or highlight reels.

But I did watch Mayfield in the Rose Bowl, and even though his Sooners ultimately lost that game in double overtime, he never gave up trying to win. It was a fun game to watch, and his rallying was inspiring.

How fun would it be to have that in Denver? (s/o to my friend Brandon Quinn for reminding me how much I loved doing that with Elway).

Not-so-terrible-but-not-so-great scenario
1 – Signing a mediocre-talent QB and drafting a QB for the future

This has merit, for sure (depending on the “mediocre” quarterback in question). It would cost less and possibly (hopefully) set the Broncos up for a long future of a thriving offense.

My fear with this plan is that the Broncos end up in Rams’ “7-9 bullsh*t” territory, a la Jeff Fisher, for several years first.

A pretty good quarterback with an improving offensive line with a few offensive weapons will win some games, lose some games. But this outcome seems even more unpalatable for players like Miller and Harris and Talib who have already wasted two years on “mediocre.” At least a promising rookie who has franchise-caliber talent will likely gain the trust of the defense.

I doubt a Kyle Orton 2.0 (or 3.0??) has that power.

1 – Drafting a bust in the first round

Obviously, ensuring success of a first-round draft pick is impossible, and every draft pick is ultimately a gamble on what they’ll be able to do coming to the pros from college.

I trust John Elway & Co. will do their homework – like, really do their homework and not just pick guys they like – so we don’t end up with another rookie quarterback whose ceiling is much lower than expected and becomes a huge waste in the first round, hurting the Broncos’ chances at a winning season for years to come.

this is exactly the type of thing that’s gonna get him drafted entirely too high, but damn it, it’s cool to see Josh Allen hit the crossbar from the 50 on his knees pic.twitter.com/plMnG8oVDM

— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) February 20, 2018
2 – Status quo.

As much I don’t like the above scenario, this one would be worse.

No matter who the Broncos bring in for quarterback next season, it better not be a guy already on the roster.

I definitely fall into the camp that the Broncos didn’t do all they could to develop Lynch so he could have attempted being a starter. And Lynch didn’t help things by being himself – which is just a goofy, happy-go-lucky kid who probably loves football but doesn’t breathe football.

But given how things turned out, and given that Trevor Siemian needs to not be a tempting option for coaches who like to play it safe, both QBs need to go. I’d be in favor of keeping Brock Osweiler as backup. He’s capable and probably still inexpensive. And he’d be especially useful if Broncos go the rookie QB route.

Where Chad Kelly fits in this mix is anyone’s guess, but if he’s able to capitalize on all the hype surrounding him, then he may be the steal of the century from the 2017 NFL Draft and a possible genius move from Elway.

But enough about my views. What are your favorite/least-favorite scenarios for the Broncos as they relate to free agency and the draft?

Which Broncos player/Winter Olympic sport pairing would be the best to watch?
Aqib Talib – biathlon Von Miller – ice dancing Jordan Taylor – halfpipe snowboarding Shaquil Barrett – curling

Why Lindsey Vonn is the greatest ski racer of all time – The Washington Post
Lindsey Vonn – Colorado resident and Denver Broncos fan – piled up victories and injuries in an illustrious career. She walked away from the Olympic downhill while she still could.

Will Broncos trade down with Bills in 2018 NFL draft? | Broncos Wire
If the Denver Broncos sign Kirk Cousins, will they trade down with the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft?

Trevor Siemian expected to be on trading block – NFL.com
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian is expected to be available through a trade as the team plans to overhaul its QB room this offseason.

Broncos’ colossal special teams problems in 2017 offer chance to start anew – The Denver Post
There was no fine-tooth comb or microscope necessary to study the problems that plagued the Broncos’ special teams units in 2017.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects Darnold to Denver, unless Broncos make a free-agency QB splash
NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. believes USC quarterback Sam Darnold will be the Broncos’ first pick because his potential outweighs his problems with turnovers.

HC Vance Joseph hosts “Wish for Wheels” bike build to benefit low-income students
Joseph and the Broncos spent time Wednesday afternoon building bikes ahead of the giveaway on Thursday.

How Kirk Cousins will ‘quickly’ respond if Redskins get petty, use franchise tag – CBSSports.com
If the Redskins get petty, Cousins will try and get his vengeance through a grievance

Mason’s top 10 defensive line free agents
Andrew Mason lists his top 10 defensive line free agents for the 2018 offseason.

2018 NFL Combine: Prospects with the most on the line in Indy – CBSSports.com
The draft stocks of these prospects will change the most based on their performances at the combine.

Introducing: Special Teams Coordinator Tom McMahon
Get to know the Broncos’ new special teams coordinator, his philosophies and his expectations heading into his first season in Denver.

How the Redskins could handle the offensive line position in free agency – The Washington Post
Washington dealt with a lot of injuries to one of its best units last season. How can it upgrade for 2018?

‘I’ve gotta get back, bro’: Steelers’ Ryan Shazier says he plans to play football again – The Washington Post
And not only play but play his way into the Hall of Fame.

‘That ship has sailed’: Andrew Luck won’t have more surgery, but he’s still not throwing fully – The Washington Post
Strength and range of motion are the focus now for the Colts quarterback, who missed all of the 2017 season.

Mike Mayock’s 2018 NFL Draft position rankings – NFL.com
With the NFL Scouting Combine just around the corner, Mike Mayock unveils his initial position-by-position rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Andrew Luck using weighted balls to rehab shoulder – NFL.com
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck isn’t throwing footballs yet but is tossing weighted balls, sources tell NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Adam Vinatieri, Colts closing in on one-year deal – NFL.com
Adam Vinatieri is closing in on a deal to return to the Indianapolis Colts for his 23rd NFL season. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Colts and Vinatieri’s agent are close to a one-year deal.

Jon Gruden: Raiders need ‘full-time’ Marshawn Lynch – NFL.com
Although Jon Gruden stated last week that he’s counting on Marshawn Lynch as a leading ballcarrier, the Raiders’ new on-field boss also conceded that the 31-year-old back’s return is an open question.

Marty Hurney named Panthers general manager – NFL.com
The Carolina Panthers announced Wednesday Marty Hurney will take over as general manager on a full-time basis. Hurney previously held the position 2002-2012.

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