Heisman Candidate Floated as Broncos’ Potential Russell Wilson Replacement

Russell Wilson

Getty Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is sacked during a Week 6 game against the Kansas City Chiefs,

With the Denver Broncos sitting at 1-5 through six games, the team should already be looking ahead to 2024.

The Broncos will have to decide the fate of Russell Wilson in Denver. One scouting director has the Broncos replacing Wilson by selecting a quarterback in the first round of next year’s draft.

In his October 14 mock draft, Ian Valentino of Pro Football Network had Denver drafting North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

“It’s not out of the question that some teams might prefer Drake Maye to Williams. He’s bigger, more refined in the pocket, and offers similar explosiveness as a passer. The Denver Broncos are a mess on both sides of the ball, but they simply can’t pass on Maye as Sean Payton remakes his offense on the fly.”

Per CBS Sports, Maye has the fifth-best odds of winning the Heisman Trophy.

Entering UNC’s Week 7 matchup with Miami, Maye has completed 72 percent of his passes for 1,629 yards and eight touchdowns.

Maye threw for 38 touchdowns in 2022 as he led North Carolina to the ACC Championship.

Sean Payton’s Past Comments on Caleb Williams Resurface

Despite Valentino mocking Maye to Denver, the UNC product may not be the quarterback Payton has his eye on.

Payton’s old comments on the reigning Heisman winner resurfaced after the Broncos lost in Week 6.

During a November 28, 2022 appearance on “The Herd”, Payton labeled Williams as a “generational player.”

“At some point, we’re going to move to a lottery system in the NFL because this is a player that possibly does that. Here you are in Weeks 14, 12, and clubs begin to lose to try and put themselves in that position. That’s not been a problem to date with our league as we know it.”

Under the present draft rules, NFL teams with the worst records make their selections toward the top. Holding a lottery system similar to the NBA and NHL is almost unthinkable in the present-day NFL.

Payton firmly believes Williams is “the type of player we would look back on in five years and say, ‘he’s the reason the lottery is in place now’.”

According to Tankathon, the Broncos would hold the second-overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft if the Chicago Bears lose in Week 6.

Russell Wilson Trade Ranked 3rd-Worst of the Last Decade

Wilson has dramatically improved his play under Payton relative to his 2022 campaign. Three turnovers in the last two games have overshadowed Wilson’s progress this season.

Wilson’s lack of success in Denver has led a national outlet to rank the move as one of the worst NFL trades in the last decade.

Per Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon, the trade for Wilson was ranked as the third-worst trade of the last 10 years. Gagnon says the move’s price tag has left the Broncos “financially handcuffed to him for several seasons to come.”

“Wilson’s numbers have been much better this year than they were in 2022, even if he still hasn’t looked right at all. But the Broncos put basically all of their eggs in Wilson’s basket and they really could have used top-10 picks as well as their original second-rounders in each of the last two drafts.”

The Broncos have gone 5-16 in Wilson’s 21 starts with the team.

Wilson has thrown for 12 touchdowns with just four interceptions through six games. However, half of those four interceptions came in Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs.




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