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Mile High Morning: A look at the history of trading up for a quarterback in the draft


The Lead

With the draft just a day away, speculation of how the first round will unfold is ramping up significantly. In particular, most fans — and most Broncos fans, probably, too — are interested in how the quarterbacks will come off the board in the top 10.

To some analysts, the Broncos' decision is not up for debate.’s Adam Schein wrote that Denver "MUST take a quarterback".

"Holding the No. 9 overall pick, Paton and Co. have to do what they can to find the solution on Thursday night," Schein wrote. "They can't be afraid of moving up a slot or two if Justin Fields and/or Trey Lance is available."

A move even higher to No. 4 could be possible, too. NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund says a deal with the Falcons with Denver getting the fourth-overall pick in exchange for their first- and second-round picks (Nos. 9 and 40) would be a win-win situation.

"The opportunity to select QB4 in this draft for the cost of a second-round pick — and not necessarily be forced to immediately start the rookie QB — is a luxury," Frelund wrote. "The Broncos are closer than it might seem to being postseason contenders. According to my models, Trey Lance and Mac Jones are the two top-tier quarterbacks with the highest probability of being available at No. 4."

The prospect of trading up for a quarterback is a tantalizing, but the history of that kind of move is worth close inspection considering the enormous stakes.

"Sometimes it has changed the trajectory of franchises," Bob McClellan wrote for ESPN. "Other times it has cost front-office personnel their jobs."

In McClellan’s analysis of the 29 deals in which a team trade up in the first round for a quarterback, some have delivered enormous rewards (e.g. Patrick Mahomes), while others did not. Looking at each trade and the outcome, McLellan provides a detailed analysis of how things don't always work out as expected … but when they do, they're well worth the price.

Below the Fold

While mock drafts are being finalized before the big day, everyone knows that there are going to be several surprises without fail. Some prospects will have to wait to hear their name longer than they and others assumed, and some will make earlier-than-expected appearances in the first round. reporter Tom Pelissero highlighted six candidates to be surprise first-round picks, including a pair of Georgia cornerbacks. "If there's a run, both could go in the first," an anonymous general manager told Pelissero. "I think [Tyson] Campbell has a little more upside. [Eric] Stokes is a little closer to playing (immediately)."

The Unclassifieds

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