NFL Nation: 2011 draft

What does the report the Denver Broncos will work out Washington quarterback Jake Locker mean?

The NFL Network reported that Locker will have a private work out with the Broncos, Vikings and Titans. The Titans’ and Vikings’ workouts make sense. They are looking for a quarterback. The Broncos, who have Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, were not expected to look at quarterback prospects.

The fact that Denver will spend time with Locker means they are, at least, curious about him. Locker is expected to be a first-round pick. Denver has the No. 2 overall pick.

It is highly doubtful that Denver would take Locker at No. 2. And it’s unlikely that Locker will be available to the Broncos in the second round. Denver could always trade down and take Locker.

But the Broncos have much more pressing needs on defense. Denver is almost certainly expected to take a defensive player first and until now it has been focusing its pre-draft evaluation time (at least when it comes to the top prospects) on that side of the ball. The team worked out Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller last week. That made total sense because Miller fills a need for Denver and he is a legitimate candidate to be taken No. 2.

What does the Locker look say about Tebow? Both Denver vice president John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders have denied reports that the team is less than thrilled with Tebow. New coach John Fox has said, as of now, Orton is the starter, but Tebow will get a chance to compete with him. The general consensus is that Orton will be traded and Tebow will be the starter.

If Denver drafts Locker, I highly doubt Tebow will be in the picture. Orton could be around for this season if Locker is drafted. But it’s highly unlikely that a team would have quarterbacks who were taken in the first round in back-to-back years. It doesn’t make any sense.

Denver could always trade Tebow, but there is little chance the Broncos would recoup enough value. He was the No. 25 overall pick last year. I don’t see a team trading a first-round pick for Tebow. The only way Tebow or Orton is traded before or during the draft is if the lockout ends.

The Locker workout could be a smokescreen in an attempt to get teams off the scent of what the Broncos really want to do. But I don’t buy that. Carolina is the only team picking ahead of Denver. So, the Broncos don’t have to play the espionage game. If this was a game of misdirection, wouldn’t you think Denver would do it with Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert? It’s believable that those two quarterbacks could be taken at No. 2.

Maybe this is a simple case of Denver liking Locker. Maybe Elway, who knows a thing or eight about quarterbacks, sees something in Locker. Who knows what the reason is. But this development has given Denver’s pre-draft preparation a tasty twist.

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