Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch warms up against the Atlanta Falcons on October 9, 2016 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
The Denver Broncos seemingly addressed their need at quarterback by signing Case Keenum to a two-year contract in free agency earlier this month.
Throw in the fact that Denver has a former first-round pick as a backup in Paxton Lynch and it seems logical to rule out the team taking a quarterback with the No. 5 overall selection in this year’s draft.
That’s not necessarily the case, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said Tuesday at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla.
"I can’t say. Right now we’ve got three guys on our roster that we feel really good about," Joseph told the team’s official website, including Chad Kelly as the No. 3 quarterback. "Obviously the draft is coming up and we’ll see."
While Keenum, who signed a two-year, $36 million contract after guiding the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, is entrenched as the starter, this year’s college class features talent galore at quarterback.
Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com has Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield projected to go in the top 15 picks and has Denver taking USC’s Darnold at No. 5.
Joseph said if the Broncos opt to select a quarterback with their first selection, it should not be an indictment on the ability of Lynch, the 26th overall pick in 2016 who has started four games in his first two seasons.
"Paxton’s had four to five starts, and to deem Paxton not capable, that’s not fair," said Joseph. "I think once Paxton gets more time he’s going to get better as a quarterback. By no means is Paxton Lynch done. He’s a gifted guy. You put Paxton in the Combine, that’s what they look like. He’s 6-foot-5, he can run, he can throw. Wouldn’t he impress at the Combine?"
While Joseph has Paxton listed at No. 2 on his depth chart, he clearly has been impressed with the current draft class, including Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, whom he labeled a "special talent."
Allen, projected by Rang to go to Cleveland with the top overall pick, impressed Joseph with the strides he made from the Senior Bowl to his Pro Day.
"His Pro Day was impressive because Josh did a great job with his footwork, first of all. That cleaned up," said Joseph. "He can throw it soft, he can throw it hard and he can throw it firm but not hard pace. That’s the key. Pro Days, you’re looking for talent."
Joseph called Rosen a "gifted passer" and said the UCLA quarterback, projected to go sixth overall to the New York Jets by Rang, made improvements that were similar to Allen’s.
"When you watch his tape, it looks like an NFL quarterback," said Joseph. "That didn’t change at his Pro Day. I thought his Pro Day was a lot better than his Combine. His Combine, I thought, was a little bit off. But his Pro Day was really, really good."
Joseph also came away with glowing assessments of Mayfield, projected to go No. 15 by Rang, and Darnold.
"I went to Baker Mayfield’s Pro Day and it was really good. He was accurate. He threw the ball well. He made every throw in the book," said Joseph. "For a smaller quarterback, he can throw it long. He has a big arm. It’s an accurate arm. He was very impressive.
"I watched Sam [Darnold’s] Pro Day on TV. Obviously he is also a polished guy and a polished passer. It’s what you see on tape. He’s accurate. He can make every throw. He can play on the move. That’s important also."