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Why the Broncos should ... pick a quarterback at No. 5

To pick a quarterback at the No. 5 selection -- if one the Broncos like is available -- would be to take advantage of the draft's most accurate window to find long-term answers at the quarterback position.

Although there is a fixation on the early-round busts at the position, your chances of finding a long-term starter are by far at their best in the first five picks. Since 1990, 18 of 33 quarterbacks taken in the first five choices became Pro Bowlers, with eight eventually starting in the Super Bowl. Those percentages of 57.6 percent and 24.2 percent, respectively, are by far the highest in the draft.

For picks 6-32, comprising the rest of the first round, the Pro Bowl percentage drops to 19.4, while the Super Bowl starting rate descends to 16.7. The general trend goes downward from there.

That doesn't mean you should just pick any quarterback at No. 5, nor does it mean you should reach for one. But this year could see four quarterbacks selected in the first five picks, and all bring something in terms of elite talent to the NFL: arm strength and measurable (Wyoming's Josh Allen), accuracy, leadership and quick processing ability (Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield), arm, size, mobility and downfield accuracy (Sam Darnold) and pocket presence, poise under pressure and ability to run a pro-style offense (Josh Rosen).

In the top five, there will be a quarterback for almost every taste and style.

Another reason to consider a quarterback at No. 5 is the cluster of elite prospects at the position makes this an unusual year, one that comes along every generation or two. Next year's quarterback class lacks the same depth of top-five-caliber talent, at least based on the trajectories of potential passers in the 2019 NFL Draft.

With fewer potential top-five quarterbacks next year, it might cost you more to move up if a need arises at the position than it would to stand pat -- or move up one or three slots -- to select a quarterback that you have identified as a long-term option.

With Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly on hand, the Broncos' situation also mirrors that of the Eagles in 2016.

Two years ago, the Eagles had starter Sam Bradford emerging from a solid season, leading them to give him a two-year extension. Philadelphia followed that by signing veteran backup Chase Daniel to a three-year contract. Combined, Bradford and Daniel were scheduled to make $25 million for the 2016 season.

The Eagles, sitting with the No. 13 pick in the first round, were not initially in position to draft either of the top two quarterbacks in the 2016 class: Cal's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. But after two trades -- one with Miami to go from 13 to 8, and another with Cleveland to leap from 8 to 2 -- Philadelphia found themselves in position to take Wentz, even though quarterback was not a pressing need.

Moving up from 13 to 8 cost the Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell. The trade with Cleveland saw the Eagles give up their third- and fourth-round picks in 2016, a first-rounder in 2017 and a second-round choice in 2018.

But when Wentz developed faster than expected, the Eagles had a surplus, and they just had to wait for the right opportunity. That arrived when Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending injury in a preseason practice, allowing the Eagles a window to trade Bradford to Minnesota for first- and fourth-round choices in 2017 and a 2018 fourth-rounder.

Philadelphia's trade of Bradford illustrates a point about quarterback: If you eventually have a surplus of starting-quality passers, you can trade it, because of the premium on the position and the dire need some teams have for it. The Eagles did, and they are reaping the benefits.


  • April 12: Pick a defensive player at No. 5
  • April 14: Pick an offensive lineman at No. 5
  • April 18: Pick a running back at No. 5
  • April 20: Trade down from the No. 5 pick
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