The Denver Broncos rookie class of 2016 arrived at Dove Valley on Sunday and have spent the entire week getting a head start on their veteran teammates. The veterans report for Training Camp sometime today, and camp officially begins on Thursday.
One of the rookies reporting early is Broncos first-round pick, quarterback Paxton Lynch.
Lynch met with the media on Tuesday and told reporters that it just feels good to be back inside the Broncos facility with his teammates and is ready to start camp.
"I feel good. It feels good to be back in the building with all of the rookies, getting these two days before the vets get in and getting your wheels turning again and everything fired back up. I know I’m excited for the vets to get back in and to start camp."
Now Lynch faces his first NFL Training Camp and has a great opportunity to win the starting quarterback job on the defending Super Bowl Champs, but first, he will need to progress as a player.
Lynch says the biggest area of growth is "how far I've come mentally." Said he had some trouble calling plays in the huddle when he started.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 26, 2016
Lynch told reporters that when he first arrived back in May he was having trouble calling plays in the huddle, his footwork wasn't where he wanted it and was just behind mentally.
Well, a good three months has passed since he took the field for the first time and Lynch feels much more comfortable with everything than he did earlier this year.
"Just how far that I’ve come mentally. When I first got here, it was kind of thrown at me and I was having trouble calling plays in the huddle. Now, I’m doing a lot better with that. Going out there, my footwork is where it needs to be. I still have a while to go with that, but from when I first got here until now, I’m very pleased with my progress."
Lynch was asked specifically about how he feels about being in the huddle. The offense at Memphis was mostly no-huddle/fast paced college stuff, so the transition from that to what Gary Kubiak wants his quarterbacks to do has been daunting for Lynch.
Broncos rookies eager to earn their role in 2016
•Mile High ReportAfter months of waiting, the Broncos 2016 Draft Class has arrived at Dove Valley and a handful of them are ready to show their coaches and teammates they are ready to perform this season.
Despite some early struggles and admittedly still not 100% comfortable in it, Lynch feels like all this huddle stuff is coming to him and he is improving week to week.
"It’s getting there to where I’m comfortable in the huddle, but I’m not to that point just yet because all of my college career was mostly no-huddle stuff. Being in the huddle is somewhat new to me so when you only get a couple of weeks of it or a month of being in the huddle, you’re not going to have it down like the back of your hand. It’s definitely coming to me and I feel that I’m improving on it week to week."
While Lynch believes he is improving and more comfortable than he was three months ago, can he push Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian for the Broncos starting quarterback job?
Well, Lynch believes he has an opportunity "play right away" for the Broncos.
"I definitely think I have an opportunity to better myself and put myself up in the position to play right away or sooner than I had thought."
If Lynch's progress and comfort with the playbook and everything else show up on the practice field in the coming days and weeks, he may very well play right away for the Broncos.
Another thing on Lynch's side is recent history.
"There have been 42 quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 2000. On average, it has taken them 14.1 games to make their first career start. That's a late-Season 1 debut. Since the Matt Ryan-Joe Flacco class of 2008, though, first-round passers have been making their debut after only four games on average. Over the last five seasons, that figure is down to 2.7 games, and that's despite the entire 2014 first-round class (Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater) making delayed debuts.
From 2000 through 2007, only one of 21 quarterbacks drafted in the first round made his first career start in the first game of his first NFL season. Since 2008, 13 of 21 have done so. Since 2011, it's eight of 11."
Will this trend continue with Lynch? That remains unknown at this time but first Lynch will need to pass Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian on the depth chart, and he knows this.
Paxton Lynch: "I definitely think I have an opportunity to better myself or play right away." Said he knew Siemian/Sanchez would be ahead.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 26, 2016
Lynch already knows that Mark Sanchez's experience in the league and Trevor Siemian's experience in this offense will put them ahead of him once camp opens up.
"I knew Mark and Trevor were going to be ahead of me because of their experience—Trevor with his experience in the offense and Mark with his experience in the league—and me being a rookie. This is the first time that I’ve seen a playbook like that, so I knew it was going to be tough and I knew I was going to be behind."
Despite knowing he isn't as experienced as Mark Sanchez, or currently doesn't know the offense as well as Trevor Siemian, Lynch plans to push his competitors however he can.
"The biggest thing for me is just staying confident in myself, keep my head up, keep pushing through and keep grinding. It’ll come to you eventually. From a competition standpoint, you’re not just going to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll take the back seat.’ It’s my job as a rookie to push those guys that are ahead of me however I can."
Now we're only less than 24 hours away from the start of Training Camp and the quarterback competition between these three guys is about to begin.
The Broncos open the regular season on September 8th at home against the Carolina Panthers. Who will be under center for the Broncos that night?
We are getting closer to find out the answer to the million dollar question.