Kiz: Watching the crowd go wild for quarterback Russell Wilson at Nuggets playoff games, we know the Broncos have already made their huge offseason splash. But general manager George Paton is such a proud draft geek, I’m intrigued to see what he does to outwit his peers and find an impact starter despite having no pick until the end of the second round. Let me throw two names at you: Colorado State tight end Trey McBride and Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen.
O’Halloran: We might as well start calling Wilson, “Mayor Russ,” because he’s all over town and could win an election in a landslide … before participating in his first on-field practice. Paton got his quarterback, but still has several holes to fill with his nine picks this week. My initial lean is that he’ll start wheeling and dealing in the third and fourth rounds (two picks apiece). If he stays at No. 64 and McBride isn’t on the board, I’d go with Andersen, who started his college career as a quarterback and running back before moving to defense (147 tackles and nine pass break-ups last year). I would make him the Week 1 starter alongside Josey Jewell.
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Kiz: My Magic 8 Ball suggests Paton’s first draft priority will be to fortify the Denver defense, which could use help at corner, inside linebacker and edge rusher. The out-of-the-box history of Andersen, combined with his size and speed, does fascinate me. I’d applaud his selection. But instead of taking the fourth-best inside linebacker in the draft, why not take the best tight end available? And he’s not hard to find, as McBride is right up the highway in Fort Collins. Let Russ cook.
O’Halloran: Paton recognized the warts defensively and signed pass rusher Randy Gregory, defensive tackle D.J. Jones and nickel back K’Waun Williams in free agency so he wouldn’t have to force a pick in round 2. That leaves him the option of drafting an offensive player. As soon as McBride ran the 40 in 4.56 seconds at his Pro Day, it signaled to me he would not be available at No. 64. In Kyle Newman’s story over the weekend, Paton and Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett had high praise for McBride. But this is where Paton’s Art of the Deal comes in. Would he trade one of his fourth-rounders to move up 6-8 spots for McBride? I would.
Kiz: Everybody knows Peddlin’ Paton’s nature is to be aggressive working the phone lines in search of a trade that makes sense. I would trade up in the second round to land McBride or a cornerback. But with his cupboard of draft picks looking bare for 2023 (only four picks), do you think it’s more likely Paton will trade back this year? My take: When you have a franchise quarterback, every move a team makes should be motivated by the ASAP quest for a Super Bowl ring.
O’Halloran: If I had to rank the scenarios, it would be 1. Trade down; 2. Stay put; 3. Trade up. The best-case trade scenario would be moving down from No. 64 and acquiring a 2023 second-round pick. If the Broncos stay put, they would speed-dial the league office if McBride is still on the board or wait and see their phone lines heat up with trade offers. But, yes, the Broncos — despite a playoff drought of six years — have entered a Championship Window with Russ in his age-33 season, but Paton also knows in this division, you need to stop teams to help Wilson succeed.