How NFL draft's top four quarterbacks fit -- and don't fit -- in Broncos' plans

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Baker Mayfield may have spoken for all of the top quarterbacks in this year's NFL draft class, when he offered his opinion on how ready, willing and able he is to step behind center and be the kind of player the league's quarterback-starved teams, such as the Denver Broncos, will want him to be.

"[The] biggest thing is showing I'm ready to be a franchise guy," Mayfield said at the NFL combine. "I'm ready to help anybody out, just want to play the game. To get a chance, that's all I've ever asked for."

The Broncos have made no secret of this. They want a long-term solution at quarterback, whether that is a high-end deal to sign the likes of Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum in free agency or to reel in one of the marquee quarterbacks in this year's draft or both.

And with Mayfield, who won the Heisman Trophy this past season at Oklahoma, as one of the headliners in a potentially rare quarterback class at the top of the draft board, it is a good time to see how the Big 4 may fit for the Broncos.

Baker Mayfield

Fit: He has shown both at the Senior Bowl as well as the combine why many in the league consider him the most ready to play right now. He has the most experience among the top four prospects, throws with anticipation, has shown he can improve his footwork over his career and understands life in the spotlight through both good and bad experiences. He also just might be the most accurate quarterback in this draft, both in the pocket and on the move.

Not a fit: Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway has repeatedly shown his favor for the taller-the-better philosophy at quarterback with picks such as Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch -- both in the 6-foot-7 club. Chad Kelly, taken with the final pick of the 2017 draft, measured in at 6-1 3/4 at the scouting combine last year and is the shortest of the five quarterbacks Elway has selected in this draft in his tenure -- Trevor Siemian and Zac Dysert each measured in at 6-2 7/8 in their pre-draft workouts. Mayfield measured in a sliver over 6-feet tall in Indianapolis.

Josh Allen

Fit: Now, if you sculpted a quarterback to look like what many in the league, including the Broncos' decision-makers, would want him to look like then Allen is the guy. A quality athlete with a power arm. Allen's fastball is simply a throw few have on their personal résumé. It opens up a variety of possibilities to offensive coordinators and even the most grizzled personnel executive would have a hard time thinking of too many players in recent years who are more physically gifted than Allen.

Not a fit: A big arm is great, but success over the long haul in the NFL is rooted in accuracy and historically speaking completion percentage is difficult to improve significantly in the jump to the NFL. He finished his collegiate career with a 56.2 completion rate. In fact, he had just nine starts in his career when he completed at least 60 percent of his passes -- and almost as many starts when he completed 50 percent or fewer of his passes (eight).

Josh Rosen

Fit: An early entry into the draft who was not at the Senior Bowl, Rosen flashed a full allotment of NFL-worthy throws at the combine. He has quality downfield touch and his setup and delivery are exactly what many in the league want behind center.

Not a fit: Fair or not -- and there is plenty that isn't all that fair in the pre-draft festival of negativity -- Rosen has to convince teams that not only is he a highly intelligent player (he is), but that he is a highly intelligent player who is still willing to be coached hard and is consistently accountable for his own mistakes. And despite many of his teammates' testimonials at the combine, there is a perception in the league that he was difficult to be around at times.

Sam Darnold

Fit: Often the draft is about potential over production, and among the top prospects at quarterback in this draft it's Darnold who may offer the most potential to grow from what he is now to what he can be in the NFL. He won't turn 21 until just before his first training camp opens. He has the physical makeup for the job and has shown he's calm in big moments of the biggest games. He's grounded, works hard and has the put-it-on-my-shoulders demeanor teammates gravitate toward.

Not fit: Bottom line, you can't turn the ball over as much he has in his time at USC -- he lost nine fumbles alone this past season, including three in the team's bowl game loss to Ohio State. And saying you'll take better care of the ball and actually doing it are two vastly different things. Some of the repair is technical in nature in how he simply carries the ball under duress, but it will be the biggest part of his learning curve given turnovers for a young NFL quarterback are the biggest reasons for the erosion of the player's confidence.