How the Patriots and Broncos could shake up the first round of the draft 

NFL Combine - Portraits
NFL Combine - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

Denver is desperate for a quarterback—so desperate that they’re paying Russell Wilson $39 million to play somewhere else! And it seems both the Bears and Commanders will use their picks to draft quarterbacks.

So, the Patriots could be the first team to consider trading back in the draft. And they could get a haul of picks from them for that third overall pick! The Broncos have the 12th overall pick; by then, the big three quarterbacks will be long gone.

As many as five quarterbacks could be drafted before they even have the chance to pick one. 

Technically, this shouldn’t be an issue for renowned quarterback whisperer Sean Payton. And if I were him, I’d go full Kyle Shanahan and take a quarterback in the seventh round so that I could steal focus when I inevitably win the Super Bowl.  

But if Payton couldn’t construct an offense he liked with a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, it’s pretty unlikely he could do it with a quarterback from Western Kentucky.

Incidentally, the Broncos’ passing offense wasn’t bad last year. They were only ranked 24th for passing yards but 27th for passing attempts! And their 28 passing touchdowns ranked 8th in the league. The eight rushing touchdowns Denver scored in 2023 ranked them 28th in the league. The defense was 28th for the number of passing touchdowns it conceded and 30th for rushing yards allowed.

Just between you and me, I don’t think Russell Wilson was their biggest problem. 

But they’ve moved on anyway and only have XFL graduate Ben DiNucci and Jarrett Stidham on the roster. And they’re being linked to JJ McCarthy by everyone and their wives.  

Mel Kiper believes McCarthy is a great fit for the Broncos. The bookmakers have him as the second favorite to be drafted by the Broncos. But Colin Cowherd, who has a pretty good track record for quarterbacks, believes McCarthy will be a top-10 pick. Even Kiper has said McCarthy is trending up so rapidly he could overtake Drake Maye.

That’s a major problem for the Broncos, as it means McCarthy could be the third quarterback off the board. 

You don’t have to look too far back in history to see how much a team will give up to trade up in a draft if they think their franchise QB is available. It happened just last year when the Panthers sold the farm to secure Bryce Young. But the Broncos will have learned from that catastrophic error of judgment.  

Young may still prove himself in the NFL, but not with the supporting cast he’s got in Carolina. There’s no way the Broncos give up two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and their best receiver. Young might have had half a chance if DJ Moore had been in Carolina. But the Broncos' 12th overall pick and one more pick should be on the table. The Patriots should receive a first or second-rounder next year because the Broncos don’t have a second-round pick this year. 

But if the Patriots are already fielding trade offers (and there was a report they had talked to the Vikings at the senior bowl) then they have the sort of leverage needed to get two first-round picks and a player they need.

But honestly, the Broncos don’t have many players who would interest them. And if McCarthy is attracting the interest of as many teams as we’ve been led to believe, those teams might have to trade up to two or three to take him.

Expect even more rumors and maybe even some absolute chaos in the next six weeks. 

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