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With draft days away, John Elway preaches 'patience' about adding quarterback

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway has discussed all things leading up to the NFL draft, he has consistently dropped the words "patient" or "patience" into the conversation.

And with the draft four days away, the Broncos closed out another week of business with plenty of patience. As in, while they did visit with yet another quarterback this past week -- Brian Hoyer -- they did not make a move to add another passer to the depth chart to join Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian.

Instead, the Broncos used some of the salary cap room created by their trade of tackle Ryan Clady to the New York Jets to re-sign running back Ronnie Hillman to go with safeties Shiloh Keo and Brandian Ross. So, that’s three more depth chart signings to put somewhere on the roster other than quarterback.

Even the Philadelphia Eagles’ mammoth trade up to the No. 2 spot in the first round and the St. Louis Rams’ mammoth trade up to the No. 1 spot, both likely to take quarterbacks, didn't influence Elway much, at least so far as to get out of the No. 31 spot or let those deals influence the Broncos' plan.

“It’s too far from us, it really doesn’t affect us," Elway said. “Obviously they haven’t said who they’re going for, but I think we all have a pretty good idea. We didn’t think they were in the ballgame for us anyway. You never know how it’s going to fall, especially being (at No.) 31. We love being there. It’s a good place to be (laughing). We’ll have to wait and see. There are going to be a lot of different options there, so we’ll see how it all takes shape."

It means the Broncos are still content to wait things out at quarterback. Hoyer is a potential candidate, but he may be able to get a little bigger deal elsewhere if the attraction of playing for a team with two Super Bowl trips in last three seasons, as well as nine starters returning in the league’s No. 1 defense, aren’t enough to lure him if the Broncos make him an offer with still-limited cap space.

As of Friday evening, the Broncos had $6.920 million worth of salary-cap space, according to NFL Players Association figures, after adding Hillman, Keo and Ross. So, they have enough room to make their draft picks and could quickly add just over $9 million in additional cap room by engaging a clause already in wide receiver Demaryius Thomas' contract to turn base salary into signing bonus.

The Broncos have brought quarterbacks like Paxton Lynch, Connor Cook, Dak Prescott and Jeff Driskel in for pre-draft visits and are poised to use a pick in the draft's first two days on one of the passers. The top three quarterbacks in the draft -- Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Lynch are now expected to be off the board by the time the Broncos are on the clock Thursday night. So the question then becomes whether the Broncos think enough of Cook to take him, likely over his grade from most teams, in the first round.

Beyond that, because the quarterbacks will top the board, to go with a potential run at offensive tackle, the chances of a highly-graded player falling to the Broncos would increase. So their opportunity to again get a player like Bradley Roby or Shane Ray at the bottom of the first round does exist, at least if Elway decides the patient approach is the way to go.

“When those runs start, you never know where they’re going to be," Elway said. “You just have to sit there and be patient. I think that we feel like there are going to be some good players available for us at 31. We’re excited about that. We just don’t know who it’s going to be, so we’ll have to be patient with it. There are so many things that come up before the draft and until you get to draft day, you don’t know exactly how it’s all going to fall. That’s kind of the exciting part of draft day.”