DENVER — If the Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay Packers marriage ends with irreconcilable differences, good luck finding a better landing spot than right here in God’s Country.
Soon as the Broncos find a quarterback, it’s bombs away. Discount Double Check this firepower on offense: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, KJ Hamler, Melvin Gordon — and the newest fun toy, North Carolina running back Javonte “Pookie” Williams, whom they drafted in the second round Friday. Add lineman Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner, and that’s a grand total of seven offensive players drafted in the first or second round — all aged 28 or under.
That's not just fun. That’s a freakin’ blast.
When they find a quarterback.
“We are just going to focus on the draft right now,” general manager George Paton said when asked if the Broncos had contacted the Packers about a trade for the disgruntled Rodgers.
It’s easy to say the Broncos are an Aaron Rodgers away from Super Bowl contention. Any team with 21 other living souls is an Aaron Rodgers away from Super Bowl contention.
But the Broncos are uniquely situated to go from doormat to damn good — if they ever sign a quarterback who scares a defense more than he scares the Broncos fans watching from home.
You won’t find a better situation for a 37-year-old Hall of Famer right now than Dove Valley.
Here’s what tickled the most about the Broncos passing on Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (a superior option to Ohio State’s Justin Fields) with the No. 9 overall pick in the first round: the offensive talent here is young talent, and wouldn’t it be cool to watch Sutton, Jeudy and Fant grow old with a QB who commands excellence? Ask Demaryius Thomas what the arrival of Peyton Manning did for his career.
If Fields or Jones develops into a Super Bowl-style QB, Paton will never live it down in Denver.
But let's talk about Pookie. Please, let’s talk about Pookie. Won’t be long before his Broncos jersey dots the stands at Mile High. Small-town North Carolina kid. High school valedictorian. Five-foot-ten, 212 pounds, runs like he’s late for dinner, treats safeties like highway squirrels.
“If I see somebody in front of me I feel like I’ve got to go through them,” Williams said Friday.
What’s not to love about the Broncos offense?*
(*When they find a quarterback.)
The Broncos traded up to the No. 35 pick to draft Williams ahead of the Dolphins. Pookie is a real upgrade over Phillip Lindsay, who still holds a grudge and acknowledged Denver taking a running back with a couple of laughing faces on Twitter. Petty, but plays to the home crowd.
The Broncos haven’t drafted a running back that high since Knowshon Moreno in 2009.
The Broncos wanted Pookie bad.
“I definitely feel like I was the best running back in the draft,” he said.
The breathless reports of Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay quieted to a whisper one day later. But those reports came from reputable media figures, and the seismic rift between Rodgers and the Packers sounds severe enough that it won’t be solved by a phone call and an apology.
The Broncos once drafted a quarterback, Tommy Maddox, right before John Elway made six of the next seven Pro Bowls. The Packers drafted a quarterback, Jordan Love, right before Rodgers was named NFL MVP. Maybe the two can bond over their disgruntled memories. Who knows?
The eight quarterbacks drafted are the most through the first three rounds since 1967. Everyone outside Kansas City, Tampa and a handful of other lucky spots wants one. The Broncos need one, because what a crying shame it would be to watch this much talent wasted.
Not long after the Broncos hired Paton to usher in a new Broncos era, Vic Fangio was asked if the new general manager had the good fortune to taste test Fangio’s famous Italian meatballs.
“He hasn’t been here long enough to get the meatballs,” Fangio joked.
The Broncos offense has the meatballs, all right, the spices, the sauce, all that. What they desperately need before it all turns is a chef.