The battle lines have been drawn. If you believe Broncos general manager George Paton whiffed on drafting Justin Fields or Mac Jones, then you feel he had a failing first offseason. If you agreed with the decision to go anywhere but quarterback, you feel Paton excelled in his first go around.
Put me in the latter category. It should shock no one that I, the creator of “The Khaki Pants Theory” (TM) applauded the decision to not draft another likely first-round QB bust.
During the last 20 years, the record of quarterbacks taken in the top 10 is shockingly bad. We just went through a stretch where 23 QBs drafted between 2009-16 are no longer with the team that drafted them. So you go ahead and holler about Josh Allen. He is the outlier. For every one Josh Allen, there are five or six Josh Rosens. That’s not the kind of odds I want my GM to roll the dice on.
Not that Paton ever struck me as a roll-the-dice kind of GM anyway. Let’s try to look at this logically (tough to do with the emotional topic of drafting “can’t miss” QBs).
Paton was groomed in the Vikings front office, where they put a premium on drafting and developing. He came to the Broncos with a sterling reputation as being a tireless worker who loves to scout, break down film and evaluate. He was in demand when GM openings came open. He turned down many before deciding to accept the Broncos offer.
So it should surprise absolutely no one that a guy with a scouting background and armed with both the confidence in his scouting abilities and a six-year contract would decide to trust his work and take who he thought was the best player available. This is not someone who was going to have, say, a 9.7 (out of 10) grade on Pat Surtain and a 7.9 grade on Justin Fields and take Fields just because everyone says “you need a QB; you gotta take a chance.”
At this point, George Paton as Broncos GM isn’t interested in taking chances. That would go totally against his scout, evaluate and draft background.
I trust Paton understands how important the QB position is. I also trust that if Fields had a grade equal to or even closely behind Surtain, he would’ve taken Fields. The fact that he passed tells me he just didn’t buy into the Fields hype.
By the way, he was not alone. Go back to September and October in the college football season and the top two consensus QBs in the draft were Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Yet, by the time the draft rolled around, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance passed Fields and if not for Chicago trading up for the Ohio State quarterback, who knows how far he would’ve dropped.
Here’s how I see Paton’s thought process when it comes to the QB position. I’ll paraphrase. He’s inheriting a bad football team. He has many holes to fill. He has a six-year contract, which allows for patience. He can give Drew Lock a chance to make the leap, all the while knowing the NFL is entering a time where veteran quarterbacks could be on the move. Again, patience.
Paton can bide his time waiting to see if an Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson becomes available. If Lock fails and none of those veteran QBs can be pried loose, then he knows next spring they’ll be another crop of four to five “can’t miss” first-round QBs in the draft.
And you know what he’ll do with them? He’ll study, evaluate and determine their worth. If they don’t grade high enough? He’ll pass. Which is what I want from George Paton. He receives high grades during his first offseason.
- Clayton: Aaron Rodgers to the Broncos could resume in 2022
- Storylines to watch heading into the 2021 Broncos training camp
- Bradley Chubb still a question mark before camp
- Broncos Country should root for Drew Lock to win this QB battle
- Denver Broncos sign DB Tedric Thompson
- Training Camp 2021: Previewing the Broncos safeties