For the third straight year, the Denver Broncos are making headlines with their quarterback situation. Just when you thought it was stable (an established starter, a first round pick, and a former first round/developmental player) the Broncos go ahead and work out six of the draft's top quarterback, or have at least scheduled themselves to do so.
Two reports came out today from high ranking analysts and draft pundits Chris Steuber (Scout.com) and Tony Pauline (SI.com, Draft Insider) that the Broncos were strongly considering a quarterback in the second round, and in the case of Steuber, he said the Broncos could look to move back into the first round for a quarterback.
I was told that the Broncos maybe interested in moving back into 1st RD for Ponder, not trading down from No. 2 overall. While I was told that, I don't believe Broncos will move back into the 1st RD for a QB. They could use 1 of their 2 2nd RD picks on a QB though.
Pauline had this to say about the Broncos adding a quarterback:
SI.com picked up a story this weekend we’ve been holding for ten days. Sources have told us a while ago they expect the Denver Broncos to draft a quarterback this year and it could be early. Many familiar with the situation told us Tim Tebow is not the quarterback for John Elway- and with the future Hall of Fame passer calling many of the shots for the franchise a signal caller is a priority. Colin Kaepernick of Nevada at the top of round two makes the most sense. The team has already worked out Kaepernick and will bring him in for a visit next week.
So what gives? Is this all smoke and mirrors? This is typically the time of year when you're not supposed to really believe anything you hear, but it is telling that the Broncos are using a good percentage of their private visits and workouts on the quarterback position. I am going to do my best to break down the situation and see what conclusions we can draw from it.
1. Kyle Orton (2012 Free Agent)
John Elway and John Fox have both said repeatedly that if the season were to start tomorrow, Kyle Orton would likely be the team's starting quarterback, which is very understandable. Orton is the only real seasoned signal caller on the roster, and he's proven that with a good defense, he is capable of limiting mistakes and winning ball games, which the Broncos want to do as soon as possible.
Elway has said the team doesn't plan on being in this [draft] position for a long time, so why would the Broncos go with a young quarterback (Tebow, Quinn, Rookie) when they have a veteran guy who is due potentially around $9 million next season?
That is a tough question. However, we Bronco fans (and some of us who follow the Bears closely) know that Kyle Orton has serious limitations. When you talk about how all he did in Chicago was "win games" you have to note--Chicago had one of the best defenses in NFL history from 2005-2007, and they still have a top notch crew.
Orton has earned his stripes in the NFL, and has shown that he can certainly bring a team from behind in the league (Dallas, New England, Tennessee to name a few) but he has also shown that he is a fast starter and a slow finisher.
You always hear people say, "Well, Orton can be a great quarterback with an actual running game and a good defense!"
Um...What quarterback is NOT going to succeed with a good running game and good defense? For example, Joe Flacco has to try very hard to lose games in Baltimore. I mean, he could throw three picks, and Baltimore would still win the game 16-6 or something crazy like that. The case is not the same for the 32nd ranked defensive unit in Denver, as well as one of the worst running games in team history.
The question is--when the defense fails and the running game struggles, can Kyle Orton lead this team to the promised land? Can he lead them to the Super Bowl and put the team on his back?
That uncertainty alone would prompt me as a GM to look to Orton as a short-term solution at the QB position only, and not much more.
2. Tim Tebow (2010 1st round pick, 2015 free agent)
What can be said about Tim Tebow that has not already been said? He is the most scrutinized player in football, and is constantly under the microscope. Everyone knows his accomplishments from high school to college, from his personal life to the type of underwear he is. We have seen the documentaries, and we will undoubtedly read the books.
Tim Tebow is probably the most popular athlete in the world not named Tiger or LeBron.
Due to that fact alone, the Broncos have the most marketable young player in football, and they have a guy that people love to love, and love to hate. Can Tebow live up to the hype?
In three games, Tebow and the Broncos went 1-for-3 but he showed that he is capable of greatness. You heard and read the comments--especially around here at MHR--that Tebow had made fantastic strides as a quarterback and showed he is capable of leading an NFL offense.
However, since John Elway has come to Denver, the confidence in Tebow has seemingly dwindled. Elway has acknowledged Tebow's talent and prior accomplishments. Back in January, Elway made a comment to Sports Illustrated reporter Peter King that "Tim Tebow is not a good quarterback at this time" which prompted King to speculate the Broncos could trade Tebow to a team like Minnesota.
Elway followed up the story by King with some comments of his own:
"To clarify my thoughts on Tim Tebow ... I think he's a very good football player, and if anyone can turn themselves into a great QB, Tim can," Elway tweeted. "Myself and our entire organization think very highly of him. We are pleased with his first year as a Bronco. Any speculation that the Denver Broncos are considering moving Tim is completely false."
Those comments were made shortly after Elway was hired as an executive for the Broncos, and caused quite a bit of controversy and confusion. But does Elway even believe his own words? His reviews of Tebow have gone from "if anyone can do it, he can" to "we will explore any and every option."
Last July, Elway made a comment on the Tebow selection and the issue of his throwing mechanics:
"The thing about Tebow is they're focusing too much on his release," Elway told the Denver Post. "As long as he can get it in a timely manner, I think he has plenty of arm there. ...
"He's not going to change his release. He may get better. Obviously, by throwing you get more accurate and more accurate and you may shorten it up as time goes on but if it's long and quick, that's OK."
After Tebow's comeback against Houston, Elway went on a local radio show and said that Tebow had the "It" factor, which can make a good player great. Still, he called Tebow "raw" which is fair.
What's even more curious is that at the Scouting Combine, John Fox stated his excitement about the Broncos' quarterback situation, and was looking forward to seeing Orton, Tebow, and even Quinn at camp.
The fact remains--a majority of fans are enamored with Tebow and have already crowned him the starting quarterback for next year, and I personally believes he deserves a shot at it, and I think it would also be the smartest move for the Broncos.
However, nothing that John Elway, John Fox, or Brian Xanders has said thus far indicates they have much confidence in the second year player, but I think there's more than meets the eye here.
Bottom line for me here: Josh McDaniels was in over his head when it came to being in complete control of an NFL front office, but I think he did know one thing better than most--Quarterbacks.
While McDaniels made some questionable draft choices, I think Tebow was one of his better ones, and I think also that he is one of the top quarterback gurus in the NFL. If he believed that Tebow could succeed, then what gives? Some guys have a knack for certain positions, and for McDaniels, it was the guy under center. He had/has a good eye for talent, and he knows how to develop it. I think the selection of Tebow proves that McDaniels was not only confident in his ability to develop quarterbacks, but he realized that though raw, Tim Tebow could be a superstar in the NFL with the proper time to season.
3. Brady Quinn (2012 free agent)
Quinn is very cheap, pretty solid quality insurance. I think he is much better than people give him credit for two measly pre-season games. He showed some nice ability in Cleveland when healthy, but how consistent can he be in that role?
I think he's the best number three quarterback in the league potentially, and should be kept around for his $700,000 next season. I do not believe he poses a serious threat to be the starting quarterback next season barring injury, but I do think he could manage the game if need be, and I think he is more capable than given credit, especially in the difficult offense McDaniels employed which takes a year to get used to, sometimes more.
4. A Rookie?
The Broncos had a private workout with both Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick, and will have both players to Denver for a visit. According to Chris Steuber, the Broncos are potentially interested in moving up to the bottom half of round one to take Christian Ponder.
According to Tony Pauline, the Broncos are rumored to be very interested in taking a quarterback, and he thinks they could look at Colin Kaepernick in the second round.
Will the Broncos draft a quarterback?
Right now, it looks as though they are very strongly considering it. The Broncos sent their top contingent to the Auburn and Missouri pro days, and will have private visits/workouts with Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton. They were also rumored to be paying close attention to Andy Dalton at the Senior Bowl, as well as sending offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to Ryan Mallett's pro day.
John Elway indicated the team's interest in quarterbacks is definitely no smokescreen, and what reason do we have not to believe him?
I think it's certainly possible that the Broncos would take a quarterback in the first three rounds if the right guy falls, but there is a seriously increased demand in the quarterbacks of this draft (they are not all that good, though), and it is speculated that six could go in the first round (Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Ponder, Dalton) and teams might scramble to trade up and get "their guy."
Again, I think taking a quarterback is definitely possible if the right guy falls, but I don't see the Broncos making a move into the first round to get one with such a low amount of picks and so many defensive needs.
To me the solution is simple, and any GM coming in should have but one duty: Fix. The. Defense.
The Broncos' defense is anemic, and adding a huge logjam at quarterback isn't going to help anything at all. Not to mention, the quarterbacks in this class would probably not receive anything more than a second round value from any quarterback in this draft, including Newton and Gabbert. It's just very low quality.
I think right now, everything is happening that the Broncos want/need to happen. Cam Newton appears to be the likely choice for the top overall pick in the draft. Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, and all the other quarterbacks in this draft are gaining serious steam, and even Andy Dalton is now being talked about as a late first round pick.
If five or six quarterbacks go in the first round, it means more defensive players are being left on the board--more high quality defensive players.
I think the Broncos have other teams right where they want them--they have us all thinking they are taking a quarterback, or at least seriously considering it, and they are probably doing their evil laugh somewhere right now as we read this. Even though the Broncos have some big name QB's coming to town this week for visits, Elway elected to tell the fans only about Von Miller, Nick Fairley, and Da'Quan Bowers.
We shall see how it all unfolds in the coming weeks, but a very interesting situation in Denver right now.