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Denver Broncos general manager George Paton during a press conference at UCHealth Training Center in Centennial, CO, January 19, 2021. Photo by Gabriel Christus
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Schlereth: The Vikings’ model is one worth copying

Photo by Gabriel Christus/Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos hired general manager George Paton in January after he impressed the Broncos through his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings and as a 25-year veteran of pro football personnel.

Under Paton, the Vikings made the playoffs six times, including NFC conference title game appearances in 2009 and 2017.

The team also acquired 22 Pro Bowl players at 12 different positions since 2008 and were well known for Paton’s “draft and develop” model.

With the new general manger getting comfortable in Denver and having completed his first offseason, there have been signs that Paton will be bringing a lot of Minnesota’s philosophies to the Mile High City.

Mike Evans asked co-host Mark Schlereth if that model is one worth copying, to which Schlereth said “absolutely.”

“Is the Vikings model one worth copying? Absolutely. If you believe in draft and develop, and you believe in rewarding guys with second contracts,” Schlereth said. “If you believe in the process of creating a really deep and good football team across the board, absolutely.”

Minnesota made six playoff appearances with six different starting quarterbacks during Paton’s tenure.

Currently, Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock are “battling” for the starting quarterback job in Denver — something that some Broncos fans said could have been avoided if Paton had drafted Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who was on the board at No. 9 during the draft.

Schlereth said Paton understands that going to the playoffs with multiple quarterbacks is not ideal and that eventually a team will need more than a quarterback that can only take you so far.

“At some point, you have to have somebody that can get you to the promised land,” Schlereth said. “Would you rather be competitive while you’re trying to find that guy and have some playoff runs and create some excitement, as opposed to just keep throwing darts at the dartboard?”

Evans pointed out that a lot of NFL teams haven’t been able to find an answer at the quarterback position.

Recently Evans wrote a column applauding Paton for drafting Patrick Surtain II over Fields. Evans said it should surprise “absolutely no one” that Paton chose the best player available with his scouting background and a six-year contract with the Broncos.

“A lot of franchises haven’t been able to find the answer,” Evans told Schlereth. “It’s hard to find that guy. It just is. And it’s why it’s led so many teams to reach an overdraft on quarterbacks.”

For Schlereth and Evans, Paton is making the right moves so far.