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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos see how quarterbacks measure up at Senior Bowl

January 23, 2018 Updated: January 24, 2018 at 6:36 am
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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield pulls back to throw a pass during the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Is Baker Mayfield's actual height the same as the Broncos' 2017 record (5-11)?

Mayfield and Vance Joseph stood eye-to-eye, literally, for the first time on Tuesday afternoon. Darian Hagan, Charles Johnson and Joseph were the three quarterbacks, all exactly 6-footers, for Colorado in the 1990 national championship season.

The Broncos' coaches and the franchise brain trust of John Elway, Matt Russell and Gary Kubiak got their initial business inspection of the 59 players, including Mayfield (six to eight inches shorter than two of the Broncos 2017 quarterbacks), on the North roster in the Senior Bowl.

The Broncos' emphasis is, as Elway accentuated at the end of the dreadful season, improving the quarterback quandary. And they have a quartet to consider in Mobile, Ala. - Mayfield of Oklahoma, Josh Allen of Wyoming, Tanner Lee of Nebraska and Luke Falk of Washington State. At the weigh-in Tuesday morning, Allen was measured at 6-4½, Lee 6-4 and Falk 6-3½. Mayfield didn't participate in the size-weight activity, arriving later Tuesday because of his mother's health issue.

They weren't a Fab Four at practice, but immersed observers did give the workout nod to the provocative Mayfield. Mason Rudolph, another potential first-round draft choice, is in a walking boot, and candidates Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson are not at the game that attracts scouts and coaches as Mobile does mosquitoes.

It's premature in the process, but national draftniks already have produced mock NFL drafts that probably should be mocked.

I checked 32 of the prominent prognosticators, and here are their speculations for the Broncos' pick at No. 5:

Mayfield 9, Allen 8, Darnold 5, Rosen 3, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson 3, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley 2, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick 1 and N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb 1. So, more than 75 percent believe that the Broncos will cherry-pick a quarterback.

But the draft doyens have no clue, and the Broncos don't know what they're going to do. I'm sure that Kubiak, who was charged with evaluating the top quarterbacks during the season at games, prefers one or another. Although we won't get any ideas straight from The Head Horse's Mouth, Elway must have a favorite. Senior Bowl week will provide the executives and the coaching staff with direct intel. They'll interview quarterbacks this week, and more at the combine, and a few will be invited to Dove Valley before the April draft.

Yet, the Broncos did scout Kirk Cousins at the 2012 Senior Bowl, and he visited the Broncos' headquarters (and met with Elway and coaches John Fox, Mike McCoy and Adam Gase). But the Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler in the second round, and Cousins was selected by Washington coach Mike Shanahan in the third round.

The Broncos had Dak Prescott on their radar in 2016 after watching him be named the MVP of the Senior Bowl. Back in Mississippi, Prescott was arrested on a DUI charge (ultimately dismissed) and then missed a scheduled flight to Denver for his meeting with the Broncos. He did show up later, but the Broncos backed off Prescott and chose Paxton Lynch in the first round.

There is a compelling argument that the Broncos won't end up with any of these young quarterbacks.

Authoritative sources tell me the Broncos will make every effort to secure the services of Cousins the second time around. Naturally, that outcome will depend on the Washington decision, the money involved and the attempts by other franchises to recruit Cousins.

If the Broncos can do a deal with Cousins, they could draft Nelson and improve themselves at both quarterback and in the offensive line. They also may make a trade, move back in the first round and add to their draft stash.

And it should be noted that Kubiak as the Texans coach signed Case Keenum as an undrafted free agent in 2012 - and gave him eight starts a year later. He is an unrestricted free agent.

The final important fact is that Elway has four more years on his contract. The organization hasn't developed a quality young quarterback during his rule, which somewhat tarnishes his reputation as a boss, and that failure burns at him.

This year could be Elway's best opportunity to reach the heights with a quarterback, whatever his height.

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