ESPN Draft Expert Slots High-Profile QB Prospect to Broncos in Mock

Getty Should the Denver Broncos be in position to draft a quarterback in the 2022 NFL draft, one guru thinks the team needs to draft Liberty's dual-threat passer Malik Willis.

The national opinion of the Denver Broncos took a drastic down-turn among reputable publications, and mainly because of one play — or lack thereof.

When quarterback Teddy Bridgewater made a ‘business decision‘ and let Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay stroll by him en route to a momentum-swinging, back-breaking 82-yard fumble-return touchdown, it signaled the end of any positive steam for the Broncos, as they were heading into their Week 11 bye.

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Blown Opportunity

As they entered that fateful November 14 matchup, the Broncos (5-5) had a strong chance of going into their break at 6-4 and tied for first place in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4). Instead, they laid an egg against the Eagles (4-6), making Denver .500 — a mark that seems more like a losing record and has disgusted Broncos Country.
Although Bridgewater has since apologized for his transgression, following the heat he took for his tepid reasoning, immediately after the Eagles’ game, the overall optics will never leave the minds of a frustrated fan base.
Quarterback will — and should — be high on the list of positions to improve by general manager George Paton during the 2022 offseason.
And according to one NFL draft expert, there should be a high-profile quarterback prospect that should fall into the Broncos’ lap.

Give Them Liberty

According to ESPN’s Jordan Reid, he predicts that the Broncos will select 14th in the 2022 NFL draft and pick Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. The dual-threat star was the third quarterback to come off the board in Reid’s mock, after Ole Miss’ Matt Corral (No. 8 to the Washington Football Team) and Pitt’s Kenny Pickett (No. 14 to the Carolina Panthers).

Bridgewater will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, and it’s difficult to imagine the Broncos making him their long-term answer at the position, regardless if Denver is able to make the playoffs in 2021.

Reid wrote that “the term ‘boom or bust’ will be attached to Willis’s name frequently throughout the draft process, but the Broncos must address the one position that is holding its roster back from being a consistent AFC contender.”

The ESPN insider also likes Willis’s sturdy frame, calling the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder “a tank.” Reid continued, adding that Willis’s arm strength will never come into question and “oozes athletic traits that evaluators love to see at the position.”

Reid, an Auburn transfer, has completed 66.4% of his passes in 2021 for 2,159 yards, 21 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Those nine picks came when Willis threw three interceptions in three separate games, but that doesn’t deny the natural arm talent the signal caller possesses. His threat to break the pocket and further stress defenses has led Willis to 755 rushing yards on 153 carries, including 10 rushing touchdowns.

Another ESPN draft guru, Todd McShay, also values Willis, making the quarterback the 18th-overall prospect in the class. McShay simply says there’s a “wow factor” when watching tape on the Liberty product.

The Broncos, however, have selected just four quarterbacks in the first round in their history — Tommy Maddox (1992), Jay Cutler (2006), Tim Tebow (2010), and Paxton Lynch (2016) — so if they want to buck the trend of bypassing high-ranking college quarterbacks, Paton should do everything he can to go get his man.

Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8

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