Peyton Manning: Broncos ‘Very Interested’ in Polarizing QB in 2024 Draft

Peyton Manning, Greg Penner, Denver Broncos

Getty NFL Hall of Fame member Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos Owner and CEO Greg Penner.

Despite the Denver Broncos adding former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson via trade with the New York Jets, they remain in the market for a quarterback in the 2024 draft.

Wilson is heading into the final guaranteed year of his rookie contract with an expensive fifth-year option looming. He also hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft hype, hence why he was available to Denver.

As for their draft plans, former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning shed some key light.

“All I know is kind of what [Head Coach Sean Payton] and [General Manager George Paton] are saying, right? I think a lot of it is sort of what happens early on. I think they’re gonna be spectators just like all of us,” Manning said “Stokley and Josh” on April 23. “It’s a good quarterback class. I actually had a conversation with J.J. McCarthy the other day.

“Impressive to talk to. I know Denver is very interested in him, and it sounded like a place he’d love to come to. But it’s a little bit out of his control.”

Manning said he didn’t have any insight into the Broncos’ plans for the draft.

The Broncos have shown a consistent interest in McCarthy throughout this process as much as any of the other prospects. McCarthy has also drawn comparisons to former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to link him to the Broncos.

J.J. McCarthy a Polarizing Prospect for Broncos to Consider in 2024 Draft

J.J. McCarthy, Denver Broncos

GettyJ.J. McCarthy #9 of the Michigan Wolverines.

Recent mock drafts project McCarthy anywhere from No. 2 overall to just inside the top 10 selections. But he is expected to be long gone by the time the Broncos go on the clock with the No. 12 overall pick.

He comes with mixed reviews, leaving Michigan with a 27-1 record and a National Championship victory in hand.

But he had just 713 passing attempts in college.

McCarthy logged five games with fewer than 20 attempts this past season. He had one with just eight attempts. This is one cause of the wide-ranging projections for the former Wolverine during the pre-draft process.

Manning did say he didn’t believe Wilson’s arrival would preclude the Broncos from moving up in the draft, perhaps for McCarthy. He was also bullish on Wilson’s addition after the failures around him in New York.

Zach Wilson in for ‘Re-Boot’ With Broncos

Zach Wilson, Denver Broncos

GettyZach Wilson of the Denver Broncos.

“The change of scenario for Zach Wilson, I think, is gonna be a good one. I don’t know how many coordinators he had in the time he was there. But I want to say it was at least two. It might have been three,” Manning said. “The best way to, I think, screw a young quarterback up is to change coordinators every single year. And it drives me crazy.

“I think it’s a great Chapter 2 for Zach. He will get coached hard here by Sean Payton and their staff which is important for young quarterbacks to be coached hard. He’s obviously very talented. He wouldn’t be drafted as high as he would.”

Manning went on to describe what type of transition he expects for Wilson.

“I think it probably is a re-boot,” Manning said. “Sean Payton has a unique system. Not necessarily much carryover from any of the systems that Zach has been in.”

That could give Jarrett Stidham an initial leg up. Payton once touted Stidham as a potential starter but has since tempered expectations for the fifth-year passer. Manning said it’s setting up for “some good competition” in camp.