BRONCOS

NFL Network draft analyst: Four quarterbacks have Round 1 grades

Jan 29, 2024, 3:33 PM

FRISCO, Texas — Some years are more rich in quarterbacks in the first round than others. This is one of those years.

And Oregon’s Bo Nix is among those who is a viable first-rounder, according to NFL Network/NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter.

“Bo Nix deserves to be in that conversation,” Reuter said after an East-West Shrine Bowl practice at the Ford Center. “And I think he will go higher than a lot of people think.

“I think Caleb Williams — great prospect, No. 1 prospect, no question. Jayden Daniels became a first-round pick over the course of this year. Drake Maye, good prospect, bit of a down year, we’ll see where he ends up. And Bo Nix deserves to be a first-round pick. So those are the four top picks.”

Not Michael Penix Jr., who has injury concerns. And not Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy — although Reuter believes there’s a “chance” McCarthy ends up going in Round 1.

“But he’ll have second-round grades from a lot of teams,” Reuter said.

Reuter will drop his first mock draft of the offseason just after Super Bowl LVIII. His mock drafts cover from three to seven rounds. He didn’t tip his hand as to which player he would project to the Broncos based on his analysis and intel. However …

“Bronco fans will have a lot of interest in that mock draft, because we’re going to find them a new signal-caller, making the assumption that obviously, Mr. (Russell) Wilson is no longer there,” Reuter said.

“But the quarterback carousel is going to really be spinning fast this year. And it’s going to be these rookies coming in — there’s going to be five or six rookies who are going to be looking at NFL jobs. There’s gonna be Justin Fields, Wilson — all these guys are gonna be moving. It’s going to be a very interesting March and April. There’ll be some trades going on.

“And even if the Broncos can’t trade and just have to release him, that’s still going to start this carousel, and so, it’s going to be very interesting to see who the Denver Broncos end up (with) in this draft.”

It could even be Drake Maye — and possibly Maye could be the third quarterback selected, Reuter noted, because Daniels, the Heisman Trophy winner, closed the gap on Maye over the course of his sole campaign at LSU.

“But I think Drake Maye can still be a good NFL player,” Reuter said. “If the Broncos pick him, he’s still got a chance to be a really good NFL player. But you have to be objective when you evaluate these guys. And I think that Maye has a lot of tools to be a really successful player.“

However, Maye’s 2023 season was “a bit of a down year,” as Reuter noted.

“I think you have to look at his whole body of work. But the thing is, that last year is the most important year in that evaluation for everybody,” Reuter said. “And you have to look at, ‘Well, was he facing too much pressure because of a very average offensive line? Were his receivers not what they needed to be to help him?’

“Now, Tez Walker is an excellent receiver, so, he had one real good one to work with. And he made some great throws. I’m not saying the guy should be a third-round pick. I’m just saying the difference between Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels has lessened considerably over the course of this year.“

So, it’s a 3-QB mix atop the draft. And four have legitimate first-round grades.

It’s a good year to go QB hunting.

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NFL Network draft analyst: Four quarterbacks have Round 1 grades