The latest saga in John Elway’s quest for a franchise quarterback played out in dramatic fashion at this year’s NFL draft, as University of Missouri quarterback Drew Lock slipped to the second round and the Broncos snatched him up with the 42nd pick.

The Broncos traded out of their first round slot at 10 and moved back to 20 in exchange for an additional second round pick from the Steelers. With their 20th pick in round one they selected tight end Noah Fant from the University of Iowa. At that point, it seemed likely that the quest for a franchise quarterback would drag on for at least another season.

As owners of picks 41 and 42 in the second round as a result of trading down, the Broncos had to be delighted and surprised to see Lock still available after 40 selections were in the books. Elway promptly picked University of Kansas offensive lineman Dalton Risner at 41, followed by Lock at 42.

Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’mont Jones (71), edge rusher Justin Hollins (156), and University of Colorado wide receiver Juwann Winfree (184) completed the Broncos picks in rounds three, five and six, respectively.

According to some draft analysts, the Broncos have graded out exceptionally high for the second consecutive season. According to others, this draft class rates as acceptable, or average. I am inclined to believe that this year’s draft rates out as above average for several reasons.

For starters, Fant is likely an impact player whoose acquisition will likely yield immediate dividends on a receiving core that desperately needs more depth. That is especially true at the tight end position, where the Broncos have had relatively little production in recent seasons. Whether it is Joe Flacco or Lock under center, Fant is a game-changer and an ideal security blanket for either.

Secondly, for there to be any hope at all that the long-term answer at quarterback might actually be on the roster is a step in the right direction. If Lock doesn’t work out, then it would be a much easier pill to swallow as a second round pick than as a first round pick taken with the 10th overall selection. If Lock misses, oh well, it was only a second round gamble. If he hits, Elway looks like a genius – again.

Finally, the additional picks were all taken at positions of need. Edge rushing, offensive line play and the interior defensive line are all places where more depth was in order.

In summary, this looks to me like another exceptional draft class. Only time will tell if it will be considered as fruitful as the rookie class of 2018, but if it is even comparable, then hats off to Elway and the rest of the brain trust at Dove Valley.

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