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Training camp positional preview: Quarterbacks

With Russell Wilson at the helm of the most important position in football, the quarterback room in Denver feels the most stable it has since Peyton Manning.

Denver Broncos Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

There’s a new level of excitement coming out of the Denver Broncos’ facility. It’s almost at tangible levels, and the team is feeling it.

Between a massive trade for QB Russell Wilson, the hiring of HC Nathaniel Hackett and his staff, and GM George Paton bringing in another talented class of rookies, the excitement is palpable and will only build as training camp continues.

At the heart of this excitement is the new quarterback room. After years of lackluster play at the position since Peyton Manning’s retirement in 2016, Wilson looks to be the answer to the Broncos’ biggest problem of the last half-decade. Behind him is journeyman vet Josh Johnson, now on his 13th NFL team, and Brett Rypien, the quarterback in the room with the highest active winning percentage for Denver.

Russell Wilson, No. 3

Report: Wilson is coming off of a down year with the Seattle Seahawks, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the veteran this season in Denver.

Despite playing hurt, Wilson still showed traits that the Broncos are in desperate need of at the quarterback position. Wilson pairs an elite deep ball with good mobility to generate explosive plays through the air. Wilson operated the quick game well, showing great accuracy and timing in rhythm, distributing the ball to his playmakers at all levels of the field.

Seattle’s offense didn’t feature many full-field reads, given Russ’s aversion to the middle of the field, but Wilson’s processing was generally good. Wilson also didn’t take many terrible risks with the football, posting a Turnover-Worthy play % of just 2.5%, good for 7th-best in the NFL last year. Wilson struggled under pressure, taking too many bad sacks while trying to make a big play happen-something that he has to break in Denver. However, it’s clear that Russ simply operates in an entirely different stratosphere than recent quarterbacks in Denver. His arrival raises the ceiling of the Broncos tremendously.

Josh Johnson, No. 11

Report: Josh Johnson’s resume of bouncing around NFL teams won’t impress many, but his 2021 film showed why Paton was so interested in having him on the roster. Johnson displayed the tools necessary to step in if needed and operate an offense at a reasonably good level. He has the arm to fit the ball into tight windows, and like Wilson, has the mobility to extend plays and make plays with his legs if he has to.

Johnson showed a good comfort in rhythm, mainly being used like a “point guard” style of quarterback, where he quickly distributed the ball underneath to his receivers. He wasn’t asked to execute a full offense with either the Jets or the Ravens, but he rarely put the ball into harm’s way and delivered passes with good accuracy. He’s at his best when he can get into a rhythm with quick timing throws, where his arm shines.

While the Broncos obviously hope they won’t have to play Johnson at all in the regular season, he’s shown traits that demonstrate an ability to operate the offense if he is called upon.

Brett Rypien, No. 4

Report: The nephew of Mark Rypien, Brett Rypien is the only Broncos quarterback to win all of his starts. Rypien is the outlier in the Broncos’ current QB room, as he is nowhere near as mobile as Wilson nor Johnson. Rypien’s saving graces are his above-average accuracy, intelligence, and intangibles. Rypien has a quick, compact release that helps mitigate his lack of NFL-caliber arm talent. Given his mental make-up and intelligence, it is no surprise the Broncos wanted to keep him around, even if they’re praying he never has to play in a game this season.


Given the needs of the team elsewhere, it seems very likely that the Broncos only go into the season with just two quarterbacks. Obviously, Wilson is the starter with no competition for that role, but the battle for the backup role between Josh Johnson and Brett Rypien will be one to monitor. It feels like it’s Johnson’s role to lose, but Rypien is a competitor and has plenty to offer as a backup as well.