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Woody Paige: Do the Broncos draft a quarterback with fifth overall draft pick?

Posted at 3:51 PM, Jan 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-08 18:01:57-05

If the Broncos select a quarterback with the draft’s fifth pick, it won’t be the first time the team will possess someone at that position (quarterback) who was chosen in that position (fifth overall).

Two other quarterbacks who were No. 5 in the NFL draft have been with the Broncos.

Now, there’s a trivia question. Clues: One started two Super Bowls, and the other was the starter at quarterback in two conference championship games.

Craig Morton and Mark Sanchez.

Morton, from the University of California, was chosen fifth in the 1965 draft by the Cowboys and started Super Bowl V. He would be displaced in Dallas by Roger Staubach and eventually sent to the Giants. In 1977 the Broncos exchanged quarterback Steve Ramsey for Morton, and he was the Broncos’ starter in Super Bowl XII against his former Cowboys mates, including Staubach.

And 44 drafts later, Sanchez, out of the University of Southern California, was grabbed fifth by the Jets. He led the franchise to back-to-back AFC title games (one after upsetting the Patriots) before, like Morton, being jettisoned and ending up with the Eagles. And in 2016, Sanchez was traded to the Broncos (for a conditional draft pick). Unlike Morton, Sanchez never started a regular-season game for the Broncos. Although expected to be the starter, he was released after mediocre efforts, and interceptions and fumbles, in practices and exhibitions.

The Broncos have never drafted a quarterback fifth overall, or higher.

The Broncos’ highest-picked quarterback, officially, was Jay Cutler, at 11th, in 2006. But it should be noted that Colorado’s own Bobby Anderson was selected 11th in 1970 – as a running back. However, he also played quarterback during his career with the CU Buffaloes.

The three others chosen in the first round, in the same territory, were Tommy Maddox (25th) in 1992, Tim Tebow (25th) in 2010 and Paxton Lynch (26th) in 2016. How did that, and they, work out?

Not any of the Broncos’ chosen QBs has turned out to be a franchise player – although Lynch still, conceivably, has time. But John Elway is claiming that the Broncos’ most significant priority is at quarterback, which doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of Lynch. He’ll probably be in Denver next season because no other team is eager to trade for Lynch, and his release would cost the Broncos a $4 million-plus salary cap hit – almost double his salary – because of spread-out bonus money.

Can No. 5 be the ticket this year?

It is well to remember that the Broncos have won Super Bowl championships with two No. 1 quarterback picks overall – and had another two No. 1s on their roster . . . briefly.  Three of the four came from the Colts, ironically.

And the Broncos would give anything (literally) to get another former No. 1 overall quarterback pick from the Colts. Despite strained relations between Andrew Luck and owner Jim Irsay, it’s highly doubtful, though, that the Colts would give the Broncos another Super Bowl-type QB.

Lost in history is that the Broncos had George Shaw as a backup quarterback in 1962. He started one game – a 44-7 victory over the Raiders – because starter Frank Tripucka was hurt. Despite the impressive performance, Shaw returned to the bench, and was gone at season’s end.

Shaw was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL’s 1955 draft by the Colts, but a major injury his rookie season preceded a slide to obscurity – because of the emergence of a guy named Johnny Unitas.

Jim Irsay’s father, Bob, traded Elway to the Broncos when the No. 1 pick refused to play in Baltimore, and Jim his own self released Peyton Manning (a No. 1 overall pick) because of four neck surgeries and advancing age and in order to pick Luck. Manning joined the Broncos.

(The Broncos also had another No. 1 overall pick in camp in 1977, but released Steve Spurrier after naming Morton the starter. Spurrier went on to some success.)

It would be historic if the Broncos ever drafted a quarterback in the first round, second, third, fourth, sixth or seventh rounds who would develop into a franchise quarterback.

Didn’t happen for Tebow or the other first-rounders: Brock Osweiler (second), Brian Griese (third), Mark Herrmann (fourth), Rick Leach (fifth), Tom Brandstater (sixth) or Trevor Siemian (seventh). Or Shawn Moore (11th). Or a horde of other quarterbacks the Broncos have drafted.

Can the Broncos get it right this year? Or do they even draft a quarterback at No. 5?