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Mile High Morning: The Athletic's steps to success for the Broncos under George Paton


The Lead

After five straight seasons without a playoff appearance, the Broncos are trusting General Manager George Paton to return them to their winning ways.

The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider has laid out 10 steps that he believes will help lead Denver back to the postseason that perhaps hold several kernels of truth. Here, we'll focus on just a couple of them.

Some are pretty straight-forward, like managing to avoid season-altering injuries like those to Von Miller, Courtland Sutton and other key players, but others are far more challenging and, potentially, important.

"Pull a leap out of [Drew] Lock" may be the most intriguing of the bunch, considering all the chatter about the future of the quarterback position in Denver and the rumors about other potential targets, but Kosmider notes that the young quarterback could still have a bright future.

"Lock is a quarterback on a rookie contract who has shown promise the past two seasons, and that makes him an intriguing option given where the Broncos are in their timeline," Kosmider writes. "… [T]here also won't be heavy pressure, at least internally, for the new GM to create a championship contender overnight. He can exercise patience, at least for this season, if a can't-miss option doesn't materialize on the QB market."

Kosmider also writes that the Broncos should do what it takes to fully unleash Jerry Jeudy, who flashed tantalizing talent amid some struggles with drops throughout his rookie season.

"If he can limit the drops that haunted him as a rookie, perhaps even just splitting the difference between his 10 and teammate Tim Patrick's zero, there is reason to believe Jeudy can have a big sophomore season," Kosmider writes. "If that is paired with a returning-from-injury Courtland Sutton repeating his Pro Bowl production of 2019, it won't be hard to envision the Broncos removing themselves from the bottom rung of NFL offenses, a place they have occupied since 2015."

Given the offense's turnover woes and struggles to provide explosiveness through the air, these two factors may be among the most important in how they could provide ripple effects across the team in 2021.

Below the Fold

Over at, Cynthia Frelund has created a new mock draft with a focus on analytics. With a goal of identifying the player that would most help each team in 2021. For the Broncos, she selected former Ohio State QB Justin Fields. "Fields' ability to make use of Denver's pass-catchers gives the Broncos about 0.8 more wins than they would add by selecting the best CB prospect and slotting either incumbent Drew Lock or any of the available free agents in at QB," she wrote.

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