ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **Up, or down? Stand pat, or start working the phones? John Elway is prepared for anything, but what the Broncos' executive vice president and general manager understands is that his team's No. 31 pick has value that is potentially well beyond its slot.
That's because of the fifth-year team option that teams have with first-round picks, and the potential availability of multiple quarterbacks when the Broncos select. If a team that picks early in the second round sees Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo or even Teddy Bridgewater on the board as the first round concludes, then they could be willing to pay a premium price in trade to a team selecting late in the first round.
If you're a team that needs a franchise quarterback, a CBA structure that allows you to pay approximately $7 million for the fifth year of that quarterback's career has massive value. Considering that going rate of franchise quarterbacks once they get beyond their first contract starts at $15 million a season, this is a discount that cannot be understated.
"I think it adds to it, there's no question," Elway said. "Especially with the quarterback position if it's somebody that they want. I think it makes the end of the first round more inviting than waiting and taking it in the second round, because it is a benefit for you to have that extra year."
But while trading down seems to be the most obvious possibility, moving up in the round is, too. Understandably coy about showing his cards, Elway gave equal weight to the possibility of moving up or down. This is not just due to the desire to not tip his hand, but because all of these possibilities are legitimate.
"I think the bottom line is you don't really know until you get there," Elway said. "You have to try to cover all the scenarios you can, especially this week, prepping every possible scenario and really being prepared because once the draft starts, the 10 minutes in that first round is not a lot of time, especially when things are going on."
And the trade possibilities don't crystallize until the draft gets under way.
"Therefore, we cover all the pieces ahead of the draft," he said, "so we can make the right decision and if you come up with a few different scenarios, there's usually a good chance you're prepared for the right one."
One scenario the Broncos did not foresee last year was the availability of defensive tackle Sylvester Williams with the No. 28 selection. In all of the mock drafts they conducted, Williams never fell that far. But because they had properly studied every player on the board, they were prepared to react and make the pick.
"There are teams with more good football players, and teams have more options. Therefore with more options, it is harder to really predict what they may do," Elway said. "You get through the mocks – last year, like I said, Sly (Sylvester Williams) -- he never got to us in any of our mocks last year. So, we were ready with it and were able to get him last year. We will continue to do that."
So, if you think you know what the Broncos are going to do with the 31st pick, you don't. Because they don't. While many, myself included, will take their best guesses, there are too many variables in front of them to accurately project what will happen sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. MDT Thursday.
In the meantime, Elway and his staff will continue to mock the draft, analyze as many potential possibilities, trust their draft board -- and let the night come to them.
"We're ready for anything," Elway said. "That's the fun thing about this draft: that you really never know."