A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: Brock Osweiler
Height: 6'8 Weight: 240
Age: 24 Experience: 4
College: Arizona State
It was April of 2012 and the winds of change were brewing with fury at Denver Broncos headquarters in Dove Valley. There was no doubt that an identity shift was on the horizon for the franchise. Even with the mystifying and roller coaster ride of season that surpassed the expectations of many across the league, the team opted out of the Tim Tebow experiment in hopes of something greater.
John Elway knew that Tebow would never be the type of NFL quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory and he along with the rest of the Broncos Brass decided to formulate a plan to do whatever was necessary to find a signal caller to lead their franchise back to greatness. That paramount goal was reached with the prized acquisition of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning on a five year contract worth $96 million dollars. The revolving door of quarterbacks in Denver had came to an end. The team had finally found what they were searching for all those long years after #7 decided to hang up his cleats.
The Broncos free agency spending spree didn't end there. Joe Mays, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Wesley Woodyard, Andre Caldwell, Tracy Porter and Mike Adams were all brought into the fold at positions of need to shore up the teams hopes of celebrating a Super Bowl victory. Forty million dollars were spent and all systems were set to go as the NFL Draft loomed near.
Despite signing Peyton Manning to one of the most lucrative free agent contracts in history, the Broncos doubled down by obtaining Sun Devil signal caller Brock Osweiler in the second round of the NFL Draft. He was John Elway's hand picked man. The chosen one. A potential heir to the throne in the event Manning did not revert back to his former All-Pro due to his season ending neck injury the year prior. It was a contingency plan that had a solid basis, but the decision then and even now is still one that is highly debated by Broncos fans across the world.
Osweiler was considered an ambiguous project that offered as much risk as he did upside. In essence, his selection was the ultimate gamble. He lacked the accolades, experience and prestige of other quarterbacks in his class, yet offered a fiery demeanor and unparalleled physical skill set compared to his peers. His tape showed a young player with enormous upside and a moxie that reminded many Broncos fans of a certain, young quarterback who had a field general mentality when commanding an offense on the field. Perhaps in a sense, Elway saw a little bit of himself in Osweiler.
But it wasn't on those merits alone that earned Osweiler a shot with the Broncos. Elway sought the advice of Dennis Erickson, a close friend and confidant to his father Jack, who had coached Brock at Arizona State. Though he only had 15 career collegiate starts, Erickson was confident that Osweiler had all the tools necessary to be a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. The reassurance given by Erickson to Elway and the Broncos staff helped sway the direction they would go in the second round of the NFL, but it was by no means a consensus among the scouts and player personnel representatives who had spent months collecting information and scouting reports on a myriad of players.
It was a large gamble, but Elway had always been a gambling man. In hindsight, Denver passed on a handful of players such as All-Pro linebacker Lavonte David, whom many in the scouting community felt would be a perfect fit and a prospect who could perform immediately and make an impact for the Broncos. The most vocal critic within the Broncos organization in regard tot he Osweiler selection was former General Manager Brian Xanders, who banged the table hard for the team to select the aforementioned David. Little doubt exists in my mind that this instance of differential draft strategy is one of the reasons he and the Broncos decided to part ways shortly after the NFL Draft.
Now here we are four years later with many of the same questions surrounding Osweiler that existed when he was drafted all those years ago, with the greatest question of all being: "Is Brock the quarterback of the future for the Denver Broncos?"
The good: Imposing player with a gargantuan physique and impressive athleticism. Possess elite arm strength and has the ability to make all the throws. High release point is a positive in combating against batted down passes at the line of scrimmage. Moreover, has made demonstrable improvement in his release speed and point through maturation in the pros.
Poised in the pocket and steps forward even in the face of pressure and is willing to absorb the big hit. Deceptive running ability and has the ability to extend plays and rush for first downs. Has leadership traits and a field commander attitude that earn him the respect of his peers.
The bad: Known penchant for locking on to his first receiver. Struggles to progress through his reads and often gets flustered and makes bad decisions when his go to read is covered. Erratic footwork that inhibits his accuracy and ability to become an accurate rhythm passer. Still needs more in-game reps to be able to discern the speed of the NFL game.
Ability to make pre-snap reads, proper adjustments and mental awareness in respect to both offense and defense at the professional level is still a work in progress. Through his time college and in the NFL, has predominately operated solely out of the shotgun. Alas, has transitioned fairly well in a short amount of time in a new system under the tutelage of Head Coach Gary Kubiak.
Quotable: "I'd be lying to you if I said it hasn't been tough to not play over the last three years, but the one thing I do know is that I'm going to work on a daily basis with one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and I guess I really just want to make the most of that situation." — Osweiler on his situation in Denver
Status: Osweiler's status as the Broncos back-up quarterback remains unchanged, but as mentioned earlier, the greatest question is whether or not he will be the man to lead the Broncos after the Peyton Manning Era comes to a close in Denver. ESPN Insider John Clayton recently spoke with Cecil Lammey on his radio show and gave his thoughts on the matter, stating he did not believe the Broncos will extend him beyond his rookie contract.
With that said, Osweiler has two more preseason games to show Elway, Kubiak and company that he is deserving of an extension and can be the man to lead the Broncos in the future. It is unlikely he will see any significant playing time this season, barring an unfortunate injury to Manning. So for now, the prospect of Osweiler as the teams quarterback of the future still remains a great mystery, but one we will have an answer to soon.
I will leave you readers with this final quote, which is appropriate for the situation at hand.
"You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it's time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives." ― José Saramago, Blindness