The Broncos just tipped which QB they're targeting in the draft in a big way


When you have three “starting” quarterbacks, you really have no starting quarterbacks, as the Denver Broncos found out this season.

Because of that, everyone knows that the Broncos will be targeting a QB this offseason, and so much so that they aren’t even hiding their interest in certain prospects.

They have seemingly locked in on their top draft target, per an unusual request leading up to the Senior Bowl.

The Denver staff will be coaching the North Team while the Houston Texans staff leads the South Team. While no one would consider Oklahoma to be in the “north,” apparently certain exceptions can be made in order for a staff to coach a particular player:

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Vance Joseph, John Elway and company are not hiding their interest in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and would like to spend a week with the Heisman winner before the official draft process.

As of now, the request is just that: a request. Phil Savage, the Senior Bowl’s executive director, has not publicly stated whether he will honor the request of the Broncos.

With the Broncos holding the fifth pick in the 2018 draft, Mayfield should be on the board if Denver wants to go in his direction. Mayfield is considered one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the draft and has been compared to everyone from Super Bowl winners Drew Brees and Russell Wilson to career backup Colt McCoy to NFL flameout Johnny Manziel.

Mayfield’s swagger may not make him a fit in every organization, but the Broncos apparently think that’s a plus. Last week Elway talked about what he looks for in a quarterback and it seemed to fit Mayfield to a tee.

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“How are these guys gonna handle the bigness of the NFL … what gets you here is your swagger and your confidence,” he said.

It would be interesting to know if the Broncos made their request to coach Mayfield before or after news came down Wednesday that he will be able to participate in the NFL scouting combine. There was speculation that Mayfield would not be able to participate in the combine due to his arrest in February 2017 for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Mayfield’s former OU teammate, Joe Mixon, was not invited to last year’s combine due to his off-field issues.

Mayfield represents the draft route that the Broncos could travel in order to land their new franchise quarterback. In terms of free agency, the team has the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins as its top option if it is seeking a veteran at the position.

Of the trio of Broncos quarterbacks this past season, only Trevor Siemian is guaranteed to return, likely as a backup. Brock Osweiler is an unrestricted free agent, while Elway labeled Paxton Lynch’s future “a topic of discussion.”

Mayfield’s appearance in the Senior Bowl is a bit unusual for a quarterback expected to be a first-round pick. In last year’s game, the rosters featured four mid-round picks (C.J. Beathard, Nathan Peterman, Davis Webb and Joshua Dobbs) and two QBs who were undrafted.

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The only quarterback in the last five Senior Bowls to be a first-round pick was Carson Wentz in 2016. His appearance in the game had more to do with him playing at North Dakota State and wanting to compete against other future pros than his expected draft round.

The full rosters for the Senior Bowl will be announced Wednesday, with practice beginning the following Tuesday. The game will be played Jan. 27 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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