The Broncos’ draft plans are very much in the minds of other teams

Mar 26, 2024, 2:33 PM | Updated: 10:39 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. — One pick ahead of the Denver Broncos at No. 12 in the NFL Draft sits Kevin O’Connell and the Minnesota Vikings. So, in a vacuum, the Vikings could make their pick without worrying about what the Broncos might do.

But in a dynamic draft environment with trades and potential daring moves up the draft board.

So, when Sean Payton talks about a trade up the draft board being “realistic” … and the Broncos investing a day in a private session and meeting with Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, it serves as a reminder to the Vikings and other teams who might be in the quarterback business that the Broncos may not be content to sit back at No. 12 and wait to see what remains.

“Absolutely. You have to be,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said at the NFC coaches breakfast Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting.

“I’ve used this term before, but other teams sometimes have to be complicit in your plans, and you’re talking about the Denver Broncos with Sean Payton as the head coach, George Paton — I know the type of staff they have there. There’s some great evaluators of talent. So we know if we feel strongly about the type of players that we’re looking at and we’re evaluating, they probably are feeling similar, and so we’ve gotta understand that that is part of it. We’re gonna have to compete in ways to add players at all positions to our team.”

Indeed, “compete” is a key word. The Broncos are in a competition to add to the quarterback position. And it is not a competition in which the teams start on equal footing.

Minnesota picks one choice before the Broncos. The Vikings also have the No. 23 overall pick, acquired in a trade with Houston. And they are as keenly involved in the draft-QB derby as the Broncos appear to be.

Which means a team picking early in the draft that doesn’t have a pressing passing need is in a prime position. And that leads one to the Arizona Cardinals, with which general manager Monti Ossenfort holds the No. 4 overall pick.

“You know, I think it’s good to be Monti today at Arizona, right?” Payton said Monday.

Payton’s coaching colleague in Arizona agreed.

“Yeah, it is good to be Monti right now,” Cardinals head caoch Jonathan Gannon said. “He’s in season, so I leave him alone a little bit. This is his baby, so I just say, ‘He, you just do your thing, man. You just do your thing. We feel good about it.’”

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