The 2017 NFL Draft was memorable because of the surprise moves made in the first round.
All that wheeling and dealing may be considered tame based upon how this year’s selection process is shaping up.
The latest development to increase the intrigue occurred early Tuesday morning when ESPN reported Denver will sign Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum when the free-agent signing period begins Wednesday.
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The devil will be in the details on this contract. If it’s a multiyear deal with a one-year escape clause for the Broncos, a la what happened between the Bears and Mike Glennon in 2017, Denver remains strongly in play to use the No. 5 overall pick on a quarterback. That’s what the Bears did when they traded up to snare Mitchell Trubisky in last year’s draft even after signing Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract.
If not, the Keenum acquisition likely reflects two things:
— The Broncos weren’t enamored enough with this year’s quarterbacks class to take the plunge. That is especially telling since Denver’s coaching staff received hands-on work with two of the top prospects, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, in late January at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
— Denver could drop out of the top 10 entirely if Buffalo comes-a-calling.
Lost amid all the free-agent hype Monday was the Bills taking a page from the Howie Roseman book of roster reconstruction. Just like when the Eagles began trading up the first round in 2016 with sights set on Carson Wentz, the Bills revealed the same intentions to grab their franchise quarterback when they swapped spots with the Bengals.
Buffalo, which included left tackle Cordy Glenn in the deal, jumped from No. 21 to No. 12. The Bills have ample picks remaining to climb even higher with the Broncos now a realistic trade partner.
The uncertainty surrounding this draft doesn’t end there.
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Cleveland’s possession of the No. 1 and 4 overall picks has created multiple scenarios that include making Penn State running back Saquon Barkley the top overall selection and then addressing quarterback three slots later — if at all.
The Giants would be an ideal fit for Barkley. If the G-Men are afraid of losing him to the Browns, one scenario would be a trade-up that still allows Cleveland to secure its sorely needed franchise QB at No. 2.
Drafting an heir apparent to Eli Manning or even selecting Notre Dame guard Quentin Nelson — especially after Jacksonville outmaneuvered New York to sign Carolina’s Andrew Norwell — are two other Giants options.
The closest thing to a “sure thing” in mock drafts is N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb heading to Indianapolis. But the mediocre 7.37-second time Chubb posted in the three-cone drill at last month’s NFL Combine could be cause for concern about whether he is truly worthy of being picked at No. 3 despite the Colts’ need for an edge-rusher. Let’s not forget, too, that Indianapolis has major offensive line needs, even though a guard hasn’t gotten selected in the top three since Leonard Davis went to Arizona at No. 2 in 2001.
More draft speculation will take root once the free-agent wheel stops spinning, especially as quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins, AJ McCarron, Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown find new homes. And no matter what silly mock drafts are published in the aftermath, trying to forecast what will unfold April 26 in Jerry World (i.e. AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas) is like proclaiming with absolutely confidence whether Keenum is the answer to Denver’s quarterbacking woes or was simply a one-year wonder in Minnesota.
We simply don’t know.
That kind of unpredictability is what has made 2018 NFL Draft chatter so much fun already.
Alex Marvez can be heard from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET Tuesday through Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.