At this point, there’s no question; the Broncos will be drafting a quarterback this offseason, and that quarterback could very likely come at pick 31 of the first round. The question, though, is who?

Carson Wentz and Jared Goff may be the big names, but unless John Elway is wiling to give up the farm, his soul and the franchise’s future, there’s no way the Broncos are moving up high enough in the draft to bring one of those elite talents home. Instead, they’ll have to make do with a project and hope they pan out sooner than later.

And that’s the important thing to note about all of these guys: They’re projects. They should not be starting come Week 1 of the 2016 season. Whether it’s Mark Sanchez or someone else, the Broncos need a buffer; they need a bridge quarterback.

With that said, depending on whom that “bridge quarterback” is, where the Broncos draft a signal caller could change dramatically. If it is Sanchez, then maybe Elway forces a pick at No. 31. Maybe he feels the need to get someone who at least has the opportunity to start at some point next season. If that quarterback is Colin Kaepernick or Ryan Fitzpatrick, though, then maybe Elway feels comfortable waiting until the third our fourth round to draft a guy that could eventually take over in the next two or three years, not unlike Brock Osweiler.

Here are five quarterbacks the Denver Broncos could be targeting and what it would take to get them:

5. Cardale Jones

EXPERIENCE: Junior     


CAREER NUMBERS: 61.7% completion; 2,322 yards passing; 15 passing TDs; 7 INTs; 617 yards rushing; 4 rushing TDs

You want to talk about upside? Then you want to talk about Cardale Jones.

You want to talk about risk? Well, then you also want to talk about Cardale Jones.

This is a guy who who has all the natural ability you could ask for. He’s also a guy who couldn’t work his way past third on the depth chart until the rest of Ohio State’s quarterbacks got injured in 2014.

This is a guy who carried the Buckeyes to a National Championship behind three of the most electrifying post-season performances we’ve seen in a long time. He’s also a guy who lost his starting job the very next season.

Cardale Jones is a walking conundrum. For every undeniable positive, there’s an overwhelming negative. If he’s going to ever become a starting quarterback in the NFL, he’s going to have to learn how to do a lot more than throw the ball hard; he’s going to have to learn how to read defense, throw a receiver open and limit mistakes. That’s no small task.

If the Broncos were to draft Jones in the mid rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft, they’d be doing so with the intention of letting him sit and study under Gary Kubiak for the next two to three seasons. If he puts his nose to the grind and matches his mental ability with his physical prowess, he could end up being the steal of the draft.

Either that or we never hear from him again. Both options are about as likely.