Broncos’ 3 best players to target with 2024 NFL Draft first-round pick

If not a quarterback, then the Broncos should target this one player in the 2024 NFL Draft.

It remains to be seen what exactly head coach Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos will do in the 2024 NFL Draft, but it’s evident they have a glaring need.

Sean Payton, Broncos, 2024 NFL Draft

The relationship was apparently so tumultuous between the Broncos—mainly Payton—and Russell Wilson, they decided to cut the veteran quarterback and pay him the rest of his obscene contract rather than have him suit up for them in 2024. How that plays out for the Broncos next season will be telling, but it’s clear that quarterback is a definite need. The question is, can that need be settled in this year’s draft?

Currently holding the No. 12 pick, the Broncos are obviously not in a top spot to select one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels are likely to be well gone by the time the Broncos make their selection.

There are plenty of rumors swirling that Denver could be one of the few teams to make a trade with the likes of the New England Patriots, switching first-round picks. That way, Payton can potentially grab one of those three aforementioned quarterbacks at No. 3, beginning a new era in Broncos football. But even if they don’t trade up, there’s still a possibility that some worthy quarterbacks are available with the 12th selection. Of course, the Broncos could choose to avoid a quarterback altogether.

Here are three players the Broncos should target in the 2024 NFL Draft.

JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

JJ McCarthy, Michigan
JJ McCarthy, Michigan
© Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
As it stands right now, the starting quarterback for the Broncos would likely be Jarrett Stidham, with his backup being Ben DiNucci. That is capable of driving Payton and Broncos fans crazy. While this definitely won’t be the season the Broncos are ready to compete, not going after one of the multiple quarterbacks available in the first round seems like the wrong move for them. Unlike most other positions, quarterback is one that is worth the risk in the first round, even if it may not be the one you want.

With his strong NFL Combine, JJ McCarthy has seemingly been making his way up draft boards. McCarthy seems like the type of quarterback that Payton would love. He’s very coachable, has a strong arm, and is fine handing the ball off instead of throwing every down. Most would look at McCarthy’s numbers and snarl at them, but a coach like Payton likely smiles ear to ear, knowing that he can coach him in the way he feels is best without getting a ton of flack from the rookie.

The biggest worry for the Broncos may be who is drafting ahead of them, that being the Minnesota Vikings, who also need a quarterback.

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Michael Penix Jr., Washington
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
If the Vikings don’t trade up or decide to draft McCarthy with the No. 11 pick, then there’s still a chance that Michael Penix Jr. is available. No one quite knows where to put Penix in their mock drafts or what he will do. He could easily be a first-rounder or go well beyond that in the later rounds. But as good with quarterbacks as Payton has proven to be, drafting Penix seems like it would be a wise choice for the Broncos.

Penix is one of if not the best deep-ball passer in the entire 2024 NFL Draft. It’s possible some teams are thrown off by his mechanics, being a lefty, or fear his past with injuries. But if Penix is available at No. 12 and they don’t get McCarthy, Penix would be a nice second choice with their first-round pick.

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU
If it comes down to either all the noteworthy quarterbacks are off the board or none of the ones available at No. 12 strike the fancy of Payton, then the Broncos could look to fill other needs. One of those needs being wide receiver.

The Broncos’ wide receiver room currently holds Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims, Tim Patrick, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, David Sills, and Phillip Dorsett. Sutton was last year’s leading receiver with 772 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jerry Jeudy is now with the Cleveland Browns, last year’s second-leading receiver. That means there needs to be a WR2, who may end up being the eventual WR1.

It’s likely that Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze are all gone by the time the Broncos pick at No. 12, but Thomas is still a very good receiver that will likely go in the first round to somebody if not Denver. Perhaps if not for Nabers, he would have had even better numbers than what he had, which were 68 receptions, 1,177 yards, and 17 touchdowns (three better than Nabers).

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