The Denver Broncos are picking ninth in the NFL draft later this month, and as of this moment, they might be sitting in the best position in the league.
In short: The Broncos may be able to stand pat and still have North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance — or maybe even Ohio State’s Justin Fields — fall into their laps as a potential replacement for Drew Lock. Many a mock draft has this scenario playing out, with the top three picks going QB-QB-QB, with Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Zach Wilson to the New York Jets, and Mac Jones headed to the San Francisco 49ers.
From there, things get interesting, as the Atlanta Falcons can conceivably take Lance or Fields as an eventual replacement for Matt Ryan, or take University of Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, or trade the pick. After that, the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins aren’t taking a quarterback, and then the Detroit Lions pick — they could potentially take a quarterback, but it appears they’re going to roll with Jared Goff — and then the Carolina Panthers just traded for Sam Darnold.
And then the Broncos pick, and as outlined above, it’s not inconceivable Fields or Lance will fall right to them.
But if the Broncos braintrust read the tea leaves and don’t see the above scenario playing out, what then?
The Broncos props
The biggest question right now for the Broncos revolves around the quarterback situation, and if you think the Broncos are hell bent on grabbing Lance or Fields, then the only way to assure that is to trade up, probably with the Falcons. And on FOX Bet, the Broncos are +190 to trade their first pick, and -275 to not do so.
Demonstrating the relative uncertainty with the Broncos pick, FOX has them at -110 to pick an offensive player with their first pick — and -120 to pick someone on the defensive side.
As to the “Who?” Well, that’s where it gets very interesting. The betting favorite right now is University of Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II at +300. Fields is next at +400, followed by offensive lineman Rashawn Slater of Northwestern and Lance, both at +500. Mac Jones is next at +550, and Kwity Paye, a defensive lineman from Michigan, is at +650.
One longer shot that is worth monitoring is LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase, who has been rumored everywhere from the fourth pick all the way down to out of the top 10. It will be hard for any team to pass up on his upside, and if there’s a flurry of trade activity to get Lance and Fields off the board by the Broncos’ turn, Chase, at +1800, could be still waiting to hear his name called at the ninth pick. It’s unlikely, but not impossible.
A more reasonable wide receiver pick at No. 9 would be Devonta Smith of the University of Alabama.
With the draft a little more than two weeks away, the only thing for certain is there are no certainties. (Well, at least outside of the first two picks. Those seem pretty certain.)
For the Broncos and their fanbase, keeping a close eye on the Falcons seems to be the best barometer of what the fate of Lance and Fields will be. Being able to grab one of them without having to trade up might result in one of the NFL’s all-time draft coups.