In the fourth quarter of an eventual Week 3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback Jeff Driskel – starting in place of injured starter Drew Lock – was benched as head coach Vic Fangio tapped Brett Rypien to complete a miserable offensive showing.
Rypien made his first career start a week later against the New York Jets, becoming the Broncos’ third different starting quarterback in three weeks and the 12th different starting quarterback since John Elway took over football operations in 2011, the second-most in the NFL over that time; the Cleveland Browns had 16 different starting quarterbacks the last 10 years. (Running back Phillip Lindsay later became the Broncos’ 13th different starter, opening Week 12 as a wildcat quarterback, though he was replaced by practice square receiver Kendall Hinton.)
Without a firm commitment by Elway or new general manager George Paton to Lock or any other quarterback after a five-win season in which the offense failed to score more than 21 points in 11 of 16 games, it seemed probable a 13th different quarterback could start a game for the Broncos since 2011.
“I don’t know about Week 1, but we’re really high on Drew,” Paton said last week when asked about Lock as the potential Week 1 starter. “I like seeing Drew here every morning when I come in. He’s working hard and trending in the right direction. As you know, he has a lot of talent. I think he’s becoming a better pro, but we’re still going to look at the quarterback position. I’ve said since I’ve gotten here that we want to bring in competition. That’s the goal, and we plan on doing that.”
For weeks, many NFL pundits believed the Broncos would do that through the NFL Draft, either selecting a quarterback at No. 9 or trading up for Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones. And for weeks, NFL Draft odds mirrored that belief; as of Wednesday morning, quarterbacks had -110 odds as the position selected by the Broncos with their first pick. The Broncos were also +275 to draft Lance and +325 to draft Fields.
Minutes after Tom Pelissero reported the Bridgewater trade, those odds dramatically shifted, as did odds for the Panthers:
|Broncos’ First Pick: QB||-110||+140|
|Broncos Draft Lance||+275||+450|
|Broncos Draft Fields||+325||+500|
|Panthers’ First Pick: QB||+375||+275|
|Panthers Draft Lance||+1100||+350|
|Panthers Draft Fields||+400||+275|
Offensive lineman now sits atop the Broncos’ odds (+140), followed by linebacker (+240), quarterback, and cornerback (+500). For the Panthers, offensive lineman remains at the top (-115), followed by quarterback, and cornerback (+650).
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