The 2016 NFL Draft is eight days away, which means rumors that were previously whispers are getting louder and louder. One such rumor that is gaining a lot of traction is that the Denver Broncos will select a quarterback with their first round selection.
The defending Super Bowl champions will head into the 2016 season with several newcomers in their starting lineup, including a new signal caller, with Peyton Manning retiring earlier this offseason and Brock Osweiler taking his talents to Houston. Currently, Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian are the only quarterbacks on the Broncos roster.
It has been long-rumored that Denver will add another veteran quarterback to the mix – Colin Kaepernick is the most likely candidate though Brian Hoyer is now available after being released by the Houston Texans– but the Broncos will need to develop a quarterback for the future.
This year’s quarterback class is heavy on prospects, as California’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz are both projected to go in the top-10 selections, and both could be off the board after the first five picks. Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook, and Christian Hackenberg round out the top five quarterbacks according to Mel Kiper of ESPN, Todd McShay of ESPN, CBS Sports, Walter Football and the NFL. Cook and Lynch are projected to be drafted anywhere between the middle of the first round and late in the second round. Hackenberg, in the meanwhile, could go anywhere between late in the second round and the end of the fourth round. Several other quarterbacks such as Cardale Jones of Ohio State, Dax Prescott of Mississippi State, and Jacoby Brissett could be available in the final day of the draft.
Two NFL Draft Scout analysts have Denver using the No. 31 pick on a quarterback. Rob Rang has the Broncos taking Lynch, and Dane Bugler says it will be Cook.
Lynch is an early draft entrant, as he completed his junior season at Memphis last season. The 6-foot-7, 245-pounder had an outstanding junior season. He had eight games where he passed for at least 300 yards, including two games where he topped the 400-yard mark, and totaled 3,776 yards through the air to go along with 28 touchdowns, as well as only four picks. Lynch completed 66.8 percent of his passes last year.
Lynch has shown significant improvement in every statistical category while at Memphis. He is athletic, has an exceptionally strong arm, and is very accurate — Lynch has completed over 61 percent of his passes over his career.
Cook is perhaps the most tested and pro-ready quarterback in the draft. The 6-foot-4 senior started his final three seasons at Michigan State, where he led the Spartans to Big 10 Conference titles in 2013 and 2015. Overall, he went 35-5 as a starter and was twice named the MVP of the Big 10 Conference Championship games.
Cook had a solid 2015 campaign, throwing for 3,131 yards along with the 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His biggest area of concerns is accuracy (57.1 career completion percentage), and his arm strength is considered average. Cook is also not overly mobile.
The problem for Denver is that Lynch may not be available when the No. 31 pick comes around. ESPN is reporting that the New York Jets could snag him at No. 20, and Will Brinson of CBS Sports believes Lynch would look nice in a Bills’ uniform. Buffalo picks one spot ahead of the Jet at No. 19.
Despite the Broncos’ obvious need at quarterback, if Lynch is off the board and Cook is not the guy they want at No. 31, Denver could go in an entirely different direction with its first pick. Denver has several other areas of need after losing 14 players from last year’s squad. The Broncos still have five free agents on the market, though they did re-sign RB Ronnie Hillman and S Shileo Keo recently.
Denver needs to replenish their depth at safety and defensive end. The Broncos will likely also be looking for a tight end and offensive line help. The Broncos should be able to find a few diamonds in the rough with 10 draft picks this year.
The Denver Post has the Broncos selecting Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche in the first round and Mississippi State QB Dax Prescott in the second round.
[Photo by Darron Cummings/Associated Press]