Denver Broncos, NFL Draft

Flacco trade shakes up quarterback picture in NFL Draft

With Joe Flacco now a member of the Denver Broncos, the incoming class of rookie quarterbacks is seeing a shakeup in the draft.

The worst-kept secret at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., was the Denver Broncos being heavily interested in Drew Lock. With their acquisition of Joe Flacco, it appears unlikely the Broncos will be chasing a quarterback in the draft.

It’s also a telling remark about the quarterbacks available in the draft. The trade of Flacco now sets up the potential for a domino effect that will ripple throughout the first round of the NFL Draft and into the following years.

Most experts see Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray and Lock as probable first-round picks. While Denver general manager John Elway could wade into quarterback waters to find Flacco’s eventual replacement, that doesn’t jibe with his mindset. Elway doesn’t believe in rebuilding for the long-term. Now with a quarterback he believes in, Elway is looking for the player who can help him win now.

Looking at the landscape, the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins remain firmly entrenched in the market for a new starter under center. New York and Jacksonville are slated to pick sixth and seventh-overall, respectively, with Miami 13th and Washington 15th.

Of all the rookie quarterbacks, Haskins is viewed as the safest prospect, thus planting him as a likely top-10 pick. If Murray’s lack of height and Lock’s numbers against quality SEC opponents don’t scare teams off in the early going, we could well see a trio of quarterbacks go in the initial half of the first round, leaving one of the teams mentioned above holding the proverbial bag.

Of course, free agency will have a large say in who remains needy come April.

The relocation of Flacco looms large in that regard. It was certain that the Baltimore Ravens weren’t going to carry Flacco on the 2019 roster, but the belief was largely that he would hit free agency via release. Now, the former Super Bowl MVP is in Denver, which will thrust Case Keenum onto the market for the third time in as many years.

With Murray, Haskins and Lock out there, which teams will settle for a free-agent bet? Nick Foles is the best available, followed in arguable order by Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill and Keenum — once the latter two are cut. None have the potential to be franchise guys, but with Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert slated to enter the draft in 2020, perhaps a short-term deal is the right play for a team like New York, which can live with one more year from Eli Manning.

Smart money says quarterbacks are always overpaid and pushed to the top of draft classes based on their outsized importance. This year will be no different, even if the landscape has dramatically shifted following a shocking trade.

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