Virginia Tech Miami Football Farley

Virginia Tech defensive back Caleb Farley (3) lines up during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Broncos have a top 10 pick in the NFL draft for only the fourth time in the past 20 years, but not everyone is convinced they should use it come April 29.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said in a media teleconference Monday he believes it would be in Denver’s best interest to move back in the draft, especially if the Broncos don’t plan on taking a rookie quarterback. In his latest mock draft, he has Denver trading the ninth pick to New England in return for a second-round pick and a 2022 first-round pick.

“The moving down is because a rookie quarterback wouldn’t make sense when you already have Drew Lock,” Kiper said. “If you wanted to go out and get (Matthew) Stafford, that would’ve been a move to make. If you want to go out and get Deshaun Watson, that would’ve been a move to make. Getting a proven entity, a proven quarterback, a star quarterback in Watson, is somebody you want to go and get. I don’t think a rookie quarterback is the way to go.”

The Broncos have already missed out on Stafford, who is now with the Los Angeles Rams, and Watson appears to be a daunting task, with several teams vying for his services and the Texans refusing to trade him. But the Broncos are the leading candidate to land the star quarterback, according to several oddsmakers.

If the Broncos don’t trade for Watson or a different quarterback, Kiper’s mock draft makes sense for the team. At pick No. 15, Kiper has the Broncos landing Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, one of the most highly touted corners in this year’s class. Cornerback is certainly a position of need this offseason after releasing A.J. Bouye and losing several corners to injury over the course of the season.

Farley has been linked to the Broncos by several draft experts who cite his 6-foot-2, 207-pound size and elite playmaking ability. He opted out of the 2020 season, but totaled 12 pass breakups and four interceptions in 2019.

“He had a really good year at corner in 2019. Tackling was an issue, though, and that’s where I would’ve liked to see him play this year and improve on that. He didn’t play, though, he opted out,” Kiper said “He’s one of those opt-outs that it’s going to be very difficult to try to figure out how high he’ll go. Had he played this year, he would’ve been a guaranteed top-10 pick. … I think he could go in that 10-16 area, as opposed to the top 10.”

If the Broncos can pick up a top player such as Farley — or a different top defender — at 15, plus two more picks from New England, that would be quite the haul.

“They would be able to get either a linebacker possibly at 15, somebody like Micah Parsons from Penn State or a Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from Notre Dame,” Kiper said. “Or get the corner Caleb Farley, or you get a cornerback like Jaycee Horn from South Carolina and the other corner certainly, (Alabama’s) Patrick Surtain II. Two of those three corners will probably still be there at 15, one of those two linebackers will probably still be there.”

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