QB or not QB? John Elway doesn't tip hand on quarterback plan as NFL Draft approaches

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Joe Flacco has already made clear his preference for the upcoming NFL Draft.

When the Broncos hit the clock with the 10th-overall pick, his vote would be for John Elway and Co. to select a “guy that can add value to the team with me as the understood quarterback.”

Flacco didn’t specify whether he prefers an offensive or defensive player with that selection, so long as he’s the man under center.

“I want to get this team to be the best it is with me at quarterback position,” Flacco said on April 16. “Obviously, that is not of most importance to draft a quarterback.”

Elway didn’t share Tuesday at his pre-draft press conference how he will spend the 10th-overall pick, but he doesn’t have an issue with the team’s starter making his opinion known.

“I like that,” Elway said. “I understand that. That’s what you want in your guy that’s your starting quarterback right now. You want him to have that mentality. I thought the comments were fine.”

Elway himself dealt with draft-day concerns when the team used its first-round pick on UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox in 1992.

“I was standing at the baggage claim at [Stapleton International Airport], and we needed a wideout,” Elway remembered Tuesday. “I said, ‘Oh, [University of Tennessee wide receiver Carl] Pickens must’ve been gone.’ He didn’t go until the second round.”

Pickens earned offensive rookie of the year honors that season while Maddox started four games as Elway battled a shoulder injury.

Elway, though, ended up on the right side of the situation that he said angered him at the time.

“How’d that work out?” Elway rhetorically asked Tuesday.

Two Lombardi Trophies to end Elway’s career is evidence enough of that — and Flacco would presumably be thrilled to end his career in the same fashion.

“Joe’s 34 years old,” Elway said. “I think he’s had success in this league. So we made that [trade for Flacco] because we thought that he had a chance to come in here and fit in what we’re going to do offensively and continue his career. At 34 years old, that’s young at that position. Joe’s done it. He’s proven he’s done it. He’s won a Super Bowl. He knows what it takes. He’s been at that level."

During the Broncos’ three-day minicamp last week, Flacco showed encouraging signs that he could replicate his previous success.

“Minicamp went well,” Elway said. “I thought he did a nice job in minicamp. He showed what he could do out there, what we thought he could do as far as the way he throws the ball. He can make all the throws, still has the strong arm. Joe was very good in [mini]camp.”

But neither Elway’s own experience battling a young quarterback nor Flacco’s showing in minicamp led Elway to rule out drafting a quarterback with the 10th-overall pick or in a later round. Of course, there weren’t any hints that he would draft a quarterback, either.

There was little to glean from Elway’s pre-draft media session, which he called “the most irrelevant press conference of the year.”

Asked for his thoughts on quarterback prospects Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones and Drew Lock, Elway chose to reply with a quip.

“They’re on the board,” Elway said.

Well, will the Broncos pick a quarterback at all?

“I don’t know yet.”

The answer likely depends upon how the draft unfolds and how Elway and the Broncos have stacked their draft board. The 2020 quarterback class may also play a role in their decision; Elway said Tuesday that the team is “aware of what’s out there.”

The only real clarity Elway offered is more procedural than it is news. The Broncos, he said, will bring in a fourth quarterback for training camp, which is the norm for most teams as they prepare for the season with a 90-man roster.

That player, though, could be a veteran, a younger free-agent or a draft pick.

“We’re going to look at it and see what’s available once we get through the draft and see how the draft goes,” Elway said.

But how the draft will go? Elway certainly isn’t saying.

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