Kiszla: After John Elway signed What’s His Name to play QB, Broncos need Quenton Nelson or Saquon Barkley in draft

Seeing how Broncos head honcho John Elway has trouble pronouncing the name of his new starting quarterback, here’s a hint: Case Keenum rhymes with rebuilding.

As much as I would like to tell you Keenum is worth anywhere near the $25 million the Broncos guaranteed a 30-year-old quarterback with a grand total of 20 victories in his NFL career, the best Denver can hope for is that Keenum turns into Matt Schaub 2.0. Is it just me, or does Gary Kubiak fancy himself as the Professor Henry Higgins of quarterback whisperers, teaching the footwork of a five-step drop as “The Rain in Spain” plays in the background? It’s all very old school, almost quaint and more than a little naive.

But there is good news for the Broncos. And it’s very good. With NFL teams foolishly falling in love with the most overrated and overvalued crop of quarterback prospects in recent memory, there’s almost no way Elway can mess up this draft. An impact player with Pro Bowl talent is all but guaranteed to fall in the lap of Denver at No. 5 in the first round.

The three most talented football players in this draft are …

Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson: He’s bigger, scarier and tougher to beat than the Night King. It might be too early to punch Nelson’s ticket to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I’ll save a seat for you in Canton, Ohio, for his induction speech in 2037.

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley: The dirty, little secret of the NFL is a slow but steady re-emergence of the running back as an impact player. Three of the smartest picks in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 drafts were Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. Barkley is as talented as any of them.

North Carolina State edge defender Bradley Chubb: He might well be the best combination of pass rusher/prankster the draft has seen since Elway drafted some guy named Von Miller in 2011. The lone caveat is Chubb seems better suited for a 4-3 defensive front than the 3-4 alignment favored by Denver.

I don’t have the hair to be Mel Kiper Jr., but reading tea leaves suggests that at least two and quite possibly three quarterbacks will be taken off the board before Denver goes on the clock at No. 5 in the first round. That scenario would guarantee Nelson, Barkley or Chubb would be there for Denver, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Elway could have his choice from two of these elite prospects.

So let’s make this perfectly clear: After giving Keenum $25 million in straight cash, homie, it would make very little dollars or sense for the Broncos to select a quarterback at No. 5. (Sorry to disappoint you, Baker Mayfield fans.)

It’s unlikely Keenum can do more for the Broncos than Schaub did for Kubiak back when he was coaching the Texans. With Schaub starting 26 of 32 regular-season games while throwing 37 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions, Houston won two division championships and two playoff games in 2011 and 2012. If Keenum can do the same during the next two years in Denver, Miller should be one happy Vonster.

Elway, however, is attempting the NFL’s most difficult shell game. He’s trying to rebuild a roster that has seen significant talent walk out the door since Super Bowl 50 without the Raiders, Chiefs or Chargers noticing. It might have been nice if all that money Denver saved by signing “Keesum” instead of chasing Kirk Cousins would have already been applied to a tight end or an offensive lineman to lend a hand to old What’s His Name at quarterback.

What now? The Broncos have to ace this draft. No excuses allowed. With the fifth overall pick, Denver needs an impact player from Day 1. So let others gamble on Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or another college quarterback. Elway can sit back and let a Pro Bowler fall in his lap at No. 5.