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'It's got to be the right fit': HC Sean Payton, GM George Paton evaluate possibility of drafting first-round QB in 2024 NFL Draft

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Head Coach Sean Payton acknowledged the scenario in which the Broncos find themselves heading into the 2024 NFL Draft.

Asked in Denver's pre-draft press conference about whether the Broncos must select a quarterback in the first round of the upcoming draft, Payton recognized the team's need at the position.

"Look, do we have to draft a quarterback?" Payton said Thursday. "You'd say, 'Man, it sure looks like we have to draft a quarterback.'"

As Payton explained, though, it's not quite that simple for Denver.

"And yet, it's got to be the right fit, the right one," Payton said. "If we had the tip sheets as to who everyone else was taking, it'd be easier to answer that question. And so, that's the puzzle here."

Though Payton and General Manager George Paton have previously acknowledged the team's desire to add competition at quarterback, Paton also highlighted the importance of making the right choice.

"What you don't want to do is force it, otherwise we'll be in this position next year and the years after," Paton said. "You want to get the right player at 12. Our first pick, we've got to hit on, whether it's a quarterback, tackle, receiver, you name it. We need to get an impact player."

Paton said the Broncos "feel good with where they're at," and he added while they've received calls from teams ahead and below the 12th-overall pick, they believe in their ability to secure a talented player in their current slot.

"We have flexibility, but we do know at 12, if we stand pat, we're going to get a really good player," Paton said.

If the Broncos do choose to select a quarterback, Paton said there's a range of areas in which Denver could find that player.

"I do think it is a good quarterback class," Paton said. "There's seven, eight quarterbacks that we like that [we] think can play in the league one day. I'm not going to get into how we have them rated or [how many] in the top 10 … but it is a good quarterback class. It's been fun getting to know them, seven or eight of them. We think we can get a quarterback early, we think [it's possible in the] mid rounds — we think there's going to be quarterbacks throughout the draft that are interesting to us."

The quarterbacks of interest could be taken in the top 10, and Paton and Payton again confirmed that a move up the board is not out of play.

Payton said while the compensation needed to move up remains hypothetical and depends on the other teams involved, he emphasized it "certainly is a possibility." Payton noted the Broncos can evaluate recent top-10 trades to get a sense of the cost, and he said how far a team moves up is dependent on how palatable it finds the cost.

And despite not having first-round picks in each of the last two drafts, Paton said such a move remains possible if the player in question can change the Broncos' future.

"If it's a player you think can change the landscape of your organization moving forward, like a quarterback, then you do whatever you [can] to get him," Paton said. "If there's a consensus in the building, a love in the building, you're aggressive and you try to get him. It doesn't mean you're going to get him, but you try.

"So we're open to everything. We're wide open."

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