ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos weren’t even 48 hours into their offseason when John Elway quickly and efficiently outlined the team’s top priority to address after a 5-11 finish.
The Broncos need a solution at quarterback and have to decide whether to address it though the draft, free agency or both.
“I think there is no doubt we have to get better at that position," Elway said. “For us to have a chance to get better, we have to get better at that position."
The Broncos happen to have the No. 5 pick in a draft that features a talented collection of quarterbacks the likes of which league evaluators haven’t seen in some time.
This is the sixth (and final) of a one-a-day look at how the top quarterbacks could fit with the Broncos.
Today: Best of the rest.
In a nutshell: Beyond the QBs at the top of the board -- Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield -- there are two players whom the Broncos will give an extended look in Washington State’s Luke Falk and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph; both will be at the Senior Bowl next week when the Broncos coaches direct the North team. Both face similar challenges, having to prove they can transition to the NFL game from chuck-it-around college offenses.
Why he fits: Some in the league believe Falk could be a second-day pick this year. He might have been a first-rounder last year had he entered the 2017 draft after his junior season with the Cougars. His footwork and setup in the pocket are better than most quarterbacks who have played almost exclusively out of the shotgun.
Rudolph played with quality receivers in the defensively challenged Big 12 and his numbers reflect that -- he threw for 4,904 yards in 2017, including 423 yards and five touchdowns in a half against Pitt this past season. But he certainly made the most of his return as a senior. He showed a quick release, far better decision-making then even in his junior season, and pocket awareness and worked through his progressions.
The work to be done: Falk is going to have to answer questions about his arm strength. He throws with better anticipation than many of his college peers at the position, but the windows get smaller in the NFL and he will be working into tighter spaces. Mike Leach’s version of the Air Raid offense piles up the points and yardage, but its quarterbacks have had difficulty transitioning quickly to the NFL.
Teams will want to see Rudolph’s overall athleticism in his pre-draft work and if he can hold his accuracy when he’s forced to move.
The plan for him would be: Both players would be more developmental considerations for the Broncos, but Rudolph is likely more suited to the NFL at this moment than Falk. Their Senior Bowl work could have an enormous impact as both will be asked to work in the framework of an NFL playbook and make the kinds of throws, both from under center or in the shotgun, they would be asked to make in the games to come.
Will it happen? Both players are the kinds of prospects the Broncos would consider developing behind a veteran quarterback if they sign one in free agency -- either as a bridge player or a multiyear starter. Elway has vowed to remake the depth chart at the position so even if the team doesn’t use the No. 5 pick on a quarterback because it has other plans, Falk and Rudolph would get heavy consideration for their picks that follow -- perhaps even a second-rounder for Rudolph.