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'We'll watch Russell Wilson highlights': Broncos' addition of franchise QB outweighs trade cost

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — General Manager George Paton isn't quite ready to adopt Les Snead's model.

While the Rams general manager has embraced the "Eff them picks" mentality, Paton joked Friday that the Broncos still hold their selections in high regard.

"Unlike the Rams, we like picks a lot," Paton said Friday at the team's predraft press conference.

But even Paton is OK with the Broncos' dearth of picks in the early moments of the draft. He and the Broncos aren't currently slated to pick until the final selection of the second round, but they've found the quarterback the team has sought since Super Bowl 50.

"It's a blessing," Paton said of the team's lack of picks. "We love having first-round picks, we love having the early second, but we also love having a franchise quarterback that sets the tone every day in the building. I come in here, he's here working. There's a reason he's great. It's because the work he puts into it, and all the players, the entire organization are watching. There's no pain in that.

"That first day, we'll watch Russell Wilson highlights."

The Broncos, who traded No. 9 and No. 40 and their first- and second-round picks in 2023, still have nine picks with which to add key contributors. And as Paton prepares to make those selections, he's gathered the opinions of the team's new franchise quarterback.

"I talk to Russ daily and kind of tell him our plan and what we're looking for and our needs," Paton said. "… He's a football junkie and he'll want to know maybe what players we're looking at, and I'll tell him and he'll watch them and give me his opinion. He's a great resource. It's just good having him around."

Despite trading for Wilson, Paton said he doesn't view the Broncos as being in a limited championship window and won't force his picks to find immediate contributors.

"Russ is young — 33," Paton said. "He wants to play until he's 40. We want to take the best player. Now, if he's not quite ready Week 1, that's fine. We want a guy to be here long term and be the best player. We're not going to just take a player because he's ready in Week 1. We want a player who's going to be here four or five years, and Russ will probably outlast them all."

That sentiment — that Wilson will remain in place to guide the Broncos forward — will help ease the wait on Thursday and Friday night.

"It's tough to wait that long," Paton said. "And there's going to be players falling and I know I'm going to get jumpy and the group will get jumpy.

"But then when I walk over here to this presser and I see the quarterback throwing to all those receivers, I feel pretty good about it. And I know I'm going to feel good Week 1, because we have a franchise quarterback who brings it every day."

For a general manager who loves his picks, that's an effective antidote.

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