For some time now, NFL Draft experts have projected that the Broncos will be active in the trade market for the upcoming draft — but all of it had been trading down to add capital.
Based on Paton's own comments from his introductory press conference in January, that outcome would be an unsurprising one.
"I think our philosophy in Minnesota [was] try to acquire as many draft picks as you can," Paton said, discussing the strategy utilized in his previous NFL home. "The more draft picks you have, the more flexibility you have. In the offseason you can make a trade for a player, draft day you can kind of work your way up and down the draft — if you want to go get a player, you go get them. So, we always thought it was important. The more picks, the more darts and the better chance of you hitting the bullseye. I would like to think that would continue here."
That just happened to work out neatly before free agency, as the Broncos were expected to be in desperate need of a top cornerback. Based on those analysts' mock drafts, Denver was able to trade back and still land one of the top-tier players at that position of need.
After free agency's first wave and the signings of Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, Denver no longer has such a burning, immediate need at a singular position.
Perhaps they could still trade back — as Mel Kiper projected in his most-recent mock draft — but it's becoming more common to see some draftniks penciling in a Broncos trade with them moving up near the top of the draft.
In recent days, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer and The Athletic's staff of beat writers have Denver moving up to No. 3 to take one of the top quarterback prospects.
For Breer, the Broncos' target was former Buckeye Justin Fields after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson came off the board with the first two picks.
"Denver GM George Paton has been on the ground at the quarterback pro days, and I'm not ruling out a big first statement from the new guy in charge," Breer wrote.
The Athletic's Nick Kosmider, meanwhile, has Denver going after the North Dakota State gunslinger who thew just one interception in 19 career games, Trey Lance.
Given the quarterback talent available in this draft, Kosmider wrote that the opportunity may be too much to pass up for Paton, who "might not get another shot like this to select a franchise quarterback anytime soon."
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If the Broncos still aim to add other competition at quarterback with veteran players, 104.3 The Fan's John Clayton says that two players make a lot of sense for Denver: Alex Smith and Gardner Minshew. "Minshew would be an intriguing option for Paton to bring to Denver and battle with Lock," Clayton writes.