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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos shouldn't draft a quarterback, even if it means a trade

April 24, 2018 Updated: April 26, 2018 at 8:45 am
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John Elway, general manager of the Denver Broncos, talks with reporters during a news conference about the team's priorities in the NFL Draft Thursday, April 19, 2018, in the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Despite the overwhelming advocacy in BroncosRealm, the franchise must not draft a quarterback. If the Broncos do, Case Keenum and the rest of us immediately will be suffering from Lame Duck Syndrome.

Since the beginning of the combined NFL-AFL draft 51 years ago, the Broncos have possessed a pick-six four previous times, and this No. 5 is No. 5.

Running back Floyd Little was selected sixth overall in 1967, tight end Riley Odoms fifth in 1972, guard Chris Hinton fourth in 1983, linebacker Mike Croel fourth in 1991 and linebacker Von Miller second in 2011.

Related: The Gazette's Paul Klee would like to see a certain Oklahoma Sooner in Broncos Orange

Related: San Diego State's Rashaad Penny looks good in Round 2

With apologies to Little, a Hall of Famer, and Miller, a future Hall of Famer, and Odoms, who was a four-time Pro Bowler and should be a Ring of Famer, and Croel (who spent four seasons with the Broncos without fame), the best of the bunch was Chris Hinton, who didn't play a game with Denver.

He was the main ingredient in the Broncos' trade with the Colts for John Elway.

At approximately 6:50 Thursday night, the Broncos' player choice will be announced.

Or will it?

These are the prominent pick possibilities for the Broncos: quarterbacks Baker "World Famous'' Mayfield, Sam Darnold and the two Joshes - Allen and Rosen; running back Saquon Barkley; defensive end/outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, and guard Quenton Nelson.

There is another option: The Broncos don't plead the fifth and trade down for multiple draft choices.

Will No. 5 be a Miller or a Croel, a Hinton or an Elway, a starter for 12 years, a bust in Canton or just a bust in Denver?

"The Decision" is among the most critical ever for the team and John The Bronco.

Despite claims of dunces supposedly familiar with what the Broncos are thinking, the Braintrust at Dove Valley won't reach a final-final verdict until 45-50 minutes into the draft. Nobody knows what players will be chosen, or if a trade occurs, before the Broncos' turn.

My guess after covering 44 previous NFL drafts: The Browns will choose Darnold or Allen first overall; the Giants will pick Barkley; the Jets, who traded up to No. 3 to pick a quarterback, will select Mayfield or Darnold, and the Browns will prefer Chubb at four.

The Broncos then could take Rosen, Nelson or someone who has not been discussed, but not safety-corner-linebacker Minkah Fitzpatrick - because Elway has never drafted a player from Alabama in seven previous years.

Or they could deal with the Bills for Nos. 12 and 22 and another later choice. The Bills inquired, and Elway has said he'd listen to offers. Buffalo could make the same proposal to Cleveland for No. 4.

All front four teams could select QBs, leaving the Broncos with a pearl within an oyster. Barkley, Chubb and Nelson are the top three players in the draft.

If Barkley still is around, the Broncos should swoop in, although "experts" assert that running backs generally have brief, burnout careers. Terrell Davis was instrumental in two Super Bowl championships.

If Barkley isn't available, Chubb is the solution. Bookend edge rushers Miller and Chubb will give the Broncos a No-Go Zone. Chubb idolizes Miller and Khalil Mack, and is considered a hybrid of the two.

Nelson is an All-Pro in-waiting, but my sources "familiar with thought" say the Broncos are not infatuated.

So, the Broncos might be forced to decide between a quarterback and a trade.

Elway was a nonpareil quarterback in a draft. Does he really want the leftover quarterback?

After a trade with the Bills, the Broncos could draft two instant impact individuals - nose tackle Vita Vea and guard Will Hernandez. And if they choose wisely in the second through fifth rounds (unlike last season), the Broncos could have seven rookie contributors. Wide receiver D.J. Chark is a special, speedy second-rounder; running backs Ronald Jones II and Rashaad Penny are worthy, and Martinas Rankin of Ole Miss would be a steal to soon start at tackle.

A quarterback wouldn't play until his third season.

What about Keenum (and the Broncos signing him for $36 million to be "the new starting quarterback"), Paxton Lynch (whom Elway hasn't given up on) and Chad Kelly (Vance Joseph's favorite quarterback in last year's draft)?

Do the right thing at 6:50 Thursday, Broncos. Or else.

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