For Allen, it may be staring down a receiver. For each of the other top-tier quarterbacks, it’s something else. The challenge becomes figuring out who will overcome those deficiencies and become great players at the next level.
Yes and no.
The Broncos initially had strong interest in Kirk Cousins, but as the odds of signing him diminished, Denver quickly turned its focus toward securing what many feel was the second-best option on the free-agent market. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, considering the huge gamble Minnesota took by signing Cousins to an unprecedented three-year, $84 million deal.
Elway also was wise to quickly change gears: Keenum told co-host Mark Dominik and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio that “there were honestly a few teams” showing interest.
“We got with our agents and went through the options of what teams might be looking for quarterbacks,” Keenum said. “Denver was on the list and far-and-away, as we did our homework, emerged as the top one. Not only the team, organization, city, but the players, coaches, all the staff here.”
That includes one of the biggest factors in Keenum’s arrival: his former head coach, who now has Elway’s ear when it comes to building rosters.
That would match the record of six quarterbacks set in 1983, when John Elway went first overall to the Colts (and then was traded to the Broncos), Todd Blackledge went seventh to the Chiefs, Jim Kelly went 14th to the Bills, Tony Eason went 15th to the Patriots, Ken O’Brien went 24th to the Jets and Dan Marino went 27th to the Dolphins.
This year’s draft will certainly see more quarterbacks drafted at the top of the first round. It’s possible that Darnold, Allen, Rosen and Mayfield will all go within the top half dozen picks. In 1983, teams would wait for a quarterback to fall to them, but these days teams will move up to take a franchise quarterback. When it’s all said and done, six teams may get their man in the first round this year.
I occasionally did this with descending players who still had value to the team in their playing abilities and leadership skills but whose contracts needed to be adjusted. Hitting a veteran player and his agent with this option was tough, as prideful vets typically don’t want to face their teammates after taking pay cuts. Word always gets out quickly.