According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Broncos gave up a sixth-round pick for Teddy Bridgewater in a trade with the Carolina Panthers. The move gave them a reliable starter who last year compiled 3,733 passing yards and a 92.1 quarterback rating.
After inconsistent play last season by Drew Lock—who tied for the NFL lead with 15 interceptions and produced just a 75.4 rating in 13 starts—the Broncos have a safer option.
The team also will have plenty of flexibility in Thursday's first round with a variety of options for the No. 9 pick. Here are some potential targets for Denver.
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Even after trading for a quarterback, the Broncos aren't necessarily out of the market to draft another one, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The move could take pressure off Denver to trade up for a quarterback, especially considering it cost the San Francisco 49ers two first-round picks to move from No. 12 to No. 3. The Broncos can stay put and see which, if any, player falls to them.
Trey Lance has a chance to last on the board longer than the other top prospects at the position after playing just one game last season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when on the field, he competed against FCS competition in a run-heavy offense.
He will likely require a longer transition to the NFL than Mac Jones or Justin Fields, who faced elite competition during their college careers.
It works out well for the Broncos. Bridgewater can start in 2021 before Lance is ready to take over down the line.
Considering Lance is ranked the No. 3 quarterback and No. 6 overall player by Bleacher Report's NFL scouting department, Denver could get a steal in the dual-threat option.
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
This draft will be heavy on quarterbacks and pass-catchers early, which could free up the Broncos to get one of the top defensive players in the class. Bucky Brooks of NFL Network argued this strategy would make the most sense for head coach Vic Fangio and Co.:
Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks
This move frees up the @Broncos to take the BPA at No.9. That makes it likely for a defender to come off the board as Vic Fangio tries to assemble a team that is capable of winning in 2021. Bridgewater is also a better fit for a defensive-minded HC. Care taker of the ball https://t.co/J8qCBLyF2n
Micah Parsons could be an exciting addition because of his athleticism, having run the 40-yard dash in a reported 4.39 seconds.
Though he opted out of the 2020 season, Parsons showcased his skill set in 2019 with 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks. He is a versatile linebacker who can get to the quarterback on blitzes, shut down the run and drop into coverage.
Denver already has quality pass-rushers in Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed, not to mention Von Miller, but Parsons can give it another elite option.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The addition of Kyle Fuller in free agency helped the Broncos secondary, but you can never have too many good cornerbacks in a division that includes Patrick Mahomes.
Patrick Surtain II is everything teams look for in a cornerback with great size at 6'2", 208 pounds and the instincts to shut down opponents in man coverage. He started 38 straight games at Alabama dating back to his true freshman season.
As a junior in 2020, Surtain was a unanimous first-team All-American and helped the Crimson Tide win the national championship.
If he is still on the board, the Broncos would be thrilled to get a high-floor, high-ceiling player who can improve the defense right away.
Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
The Broncos have heavily invested in the offensive line with early draft picks in recent years, and they could land another blue-chip player in Rashawn Slater even with Penei Sewell possibly already gone by No. 9.
"I think I'm the best tackle in the draft," Slater told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "So I have a really high level of confidence about that, but at the same time, I'm a team player. If a team wants to play me at guard, I'm all for it. As long as that's what's best for the team, I'm happy to play whatever position they need me at."
That versatility could be especially valuable considering Garett Bolles has established himself at left tackle. Slater could be a long-term option at right tackle or guard, which would help strengthen the line.
And that would make things easier for whichever quarterback leads the team.