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Broncos have quarterback at the top of their priority list

The Denver Broncos will let their quarterback process play itself out. Free agency will determine their path.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos coach Vance Joseph may not be talking publicly about Kirk Cousins at the NFL Combine this week due to league tampering rules, but he’s definitely talking about quarterbacks.

“I would say this, we have to play better at the quarterback position,” Joseph said following the umpteenth attempt to determine how serious Broncos are planning to court the NFL’s top free-agent quarterback.

“I haven’t coached Kirk Cousins, so I can’t speak to that to be honest. He’s a Washington Redskin at the moment, so I can’t speak to that,” Joseph said, acknowledging that he has certainly paid attention to Cousins’ body of work over the years (and probably has been eyeing a lot of film as of late). “He’s a good football player. He’s thrown for over 4,000 yards the last three years, and that’s tough to do in this league. He’s a good one, but I’ll leave it at that.”

And Joseph is also “leaving it” at the Broncos still have a slew of quarterbacks on the roster to deal with plus a hefty list of potential quarterback draft picks to wade through.

John Elway hasn’t given any obvious indication of how the Broncos will solve their quarterback problem other than he intends to “explore all options” and see where things go.

“That will come,” Elway said when asked if he would pursue a quarterback via free agency or the draft. “I think we’re going to explore all options in free agency and see where that goes. Obviously we’ve got the fifth pick in the draft, too. That will all play into it. We’ll continue to look at all of the options out there when it comes to quarterback.”

As a point of practicality, Joseph reminded the media that the Broncos have three quarterbacks on the roster - Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly - and he noted that the third is healthy.

But even without hints of the fate of the first two on the depth chart, Joseph and the Broncos are looking extensively outside of that QB room for the answer to next season.

“Josh [Rosen] is a very talented quarterback,” Joseph said of the UCLA product. “He looks like a pro on tape, but meeting with him and watching him throw and compete this week is going to be a help to the evaluation. He’s definitely a good football player.”

Since Joseph coached Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield at the Senior Bowl, he obviously has some greater knowledge of those two leading into the combine, but it doesn’t change his approach this week to evaluating multiple aspects of a player.

“To have a chance to actually coach those guys for a week, have a chance to watch them in install meetings and have a chance to watch them take the information in and put it back out, that’s valuable for you. In my opinion, it was worth it,” Joseph said. “We got a chance to see a lot of good players there. Moving forward, it does help you in your evaluation process.”

The coach reiterated that the entire evaluation process in the offseason leading up to free agency and the draft is a long one.

“They’re all talented guys,” he said. “As we move forward, we just want to find out more about the guys as people and as quarterbacks. This week is always a good week to sit back and watch them compete and watch them perform.”

The evaluation process for free agency differs slightly since the numbers and stats are already there for the mining.

“It’s about fit. You have to find a guy that fits your football profile. It’s not about the numbers or the names. It’s about the perfect fit,” Joseph said. “The best teams win. You have to have a guy that fits your football mindset. In Denver, we want to play great defense all the time and run the football. Who fits that formula for us? I’m not sure yet. It’s all about fit.”

One thing Joseph is sure of - finding the guy is Priority No. 1.

“It will help us all. We played three quarterbacks last year. No one wants to do that. You want one guy and one guy only,” he said, adding that a capable backup in case of injury is also a must. ”You don’t want to play three quarterbacks. I think all of involved will get better by not playing three quarterbacks.”