John Elway unequivocally must go boldly for Captain Kirk.
The Broncos have a problem at quarterback. Kirk Cousins is The Solution.
If the Broncos desire to become relevant in the NFL and the postseason again quickly, the prerequisite is a quantum quarterback leap.
Drafting a quarterback at No. 5 will not accomplish that feat any season soon. Even in the case of The Great Showman Elway, the Broncos didn't win a playoff game, and reach the Super Bowl, until his fourth season in the league.
Based on my research, of the 50 quarterbacks picked in the top five of the draft since the merger, 14 have started in the Super Bowl, and seven have become world champions, six multiple times.
Objectively, 18 of those 50 were busts. Among that group were Art Schlichter, Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Heath Shuler, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell and Robert Griffin III. Judgment has not been determined on a dozen young QBs, and the rest have been mediocre starters or career backups.
So, 28 percent have been very successful, 36 percent failures, and 36 percent in between.
Picking a quarterback in the first five is a crapshoot.
Thirty-two of the starting Super Bowl quarterbacks, including a couple of G.O.A.T.s, Joe Montana and Tom Brady, were selected after the first round.
K.C. was chosen by D.C. in the fourth round in 2012.
Of the eight quarterbacks drafted in the first four rounds of that draft, Cousins, who didn't start full time until 2015, would be ranked third behind Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck, but certainly ahead of Brock Osweiler and the rest. The Cousins stats, but not postseason accomplishments, are in the Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers realm.
At 29, Cousins isn't a Super Bowl certainty, but his odds are superior to other quarterbacks who potentially could be available to the Broncos.
Cousins should be Elway's Plan "A,'' but, unlike in 2012 when Peyton agreed to come to Denver, the president of Broncos football operations will have several other letters of the alphabet in his plan playbook.
Because Washington is in control.
These are the key upcoming dates:
Jan. 22-27 - Senior Bowl practice and game. The Broncos will coach the North team, and Baker Reagan Mayfield will be on their roster; Josh Allen still is to be determined. Kirk Cousins played in the 2012 game, which was coached by then Washington coach Mike Shanahan - who drafted Cousins and became his most ardent supporter.
Feb. 20 - First day teams can designate "franchise'' or "transition'' players. If Washington places the franchise tag on Cousins for the third year, he will earn $34 million. If Cousins receives the transition label and $28 mil, Washington can match offers.
Feb. 27-March 5 - NFL combine.
March 6 - Last day for franchise and transition designations.
March 12-14 - Teams can negotiate with representatives of unrestricted free agents.
March 14 - Free agents can sign with new teams. And trades are allowed.
April 26-28 - Draft.
If Washington doesn't franchise or transition Cousins, the Broncos freely can negotiate with him. If he is a transition player, they could offer a lucrative, creative contract they hope Washington wouldn't decide to duplicate. The Broncos also could make a trade with Washington.
Cousins' agent, Mike McCartney, has strong Colorado connections. He is the son of famed CU coach Bill McCartney, grew up in Boulder and was a quarterback coach who helped recruit Vance Joseph to the Buffs. McCartney also represents Trevor Siemian and Zac Dysert, both former seventh-round selections by the Broncos.
Cousins idolized Elway as a kid, then copied Manning's face mask in high school (and still wears the same style). Perhaps Elway and Joseph could persuade Manning, Shanahan, Bill McCartney, Von Miller, who highly praised Cousins after the Christmas Eve game, and William Shatner, a Broncos fan and the original Captain Kirk, to recruit Cousins.
The Broncos' defense, Colorado as a home for Cousins, his wife Julie and their baby son Cooper, the Broncos' Super Bowl traditions and a strong religious community (Cousins is the son and grandson of ministers) would be attractive enticements.
And an eight-year contract worth $150 million-$200 million with bonuses, guarantees and incentives would be very tempting, too.
Cousins is the New Year's resolution to the Broncos' quest.