By now everyone knows that Peyton Manning has signed with the Denver Broncos and should be there for 3-4 years. However if you haven’t noticed all ready, The NFL is a quarterback driven league and John Elway knows it. As excited as the Executive Vice-President of Football Operations is today,
Elway knows the time to address the long-term answer for the quarterback position is now.
There’s no doubt that the Broncos are playing to win now and 95% of the 2012 NFL Draft will reflect those goals but 5% of the draft will have one eye on the future. Denver is in a perfect position to draft a guy they like and develop him over the next few seasons. Most teams who are in need of a signal caller draft one out of desperation and force him to play whether they are ready or not. While that strategy works from time to time, it puts a great deal of pressure on the young quarterbacks coming out of college.
The Broncos find themselves in a unique position; they currently have one of the best quarterbacks in history ready to take the reins for the short term, but they also know that Manning’s time in Denver is fairly limited. That allows them the freedom to select a guy, ease him into the pro game, let him learn from Manning and have him ready to assume control when Manning trades in his cleats for the Gold Jacket of the Hall of Fame.
All of those reasons are great but there is one that overrides the others; the Manning effect. There’s not a better situation for a young quarterback then to be able to sit behind Manning. That’s not to say Manning will “take a rookie under his wing” but if a quarterback is willing to learn, there is no better teacher. Manning will show any quarterback how to prepare, how to study film, how to lead and how to work. Having said all of that, the Broncos must take the right guy and I’m not talking about only talent. They must draft a guy who wants to soak in as much information as possible, is willing to work as hard as Manning and is excellent in the classroom. Manning takes 98% of the snaps in practice, so a rookie quarterback is going to have learn by taking mental rep after mental rep. Manning demands perfection from everyone he plays with and will do the same with his backups, a rookie quarterback must be able to handle that kind of pressure.
There are two names that come to mind that would be perfect fits for the Broncos. The first one is Brock Osweiler from Arizona State; the 6’7” quarterback is talented but raw. He is not ready to play in the NFL right now but could be a star in 4-5 years if he ends up in the right situation. John Elway and John Fox have worked Osweiler out and like him a lot. The Broncos could use their 2nd round pick to grab Osweiler. The other quarterback is BJ Coleman out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Coleman was recruited by the bigger schools and chose Manning’s alma mater, Tennessee. However due to some coaching changes, Coleman transferred to Chattanooga. Coleman has unlimited potential but as with Osweiler, he is raw. Coleman chose Tennessee largely due to his fondness for Manning and would undoubtedly relish the opportunity to learn from him.
There are other quarterbacks that would fit what the Broncos are looking for, but those two are the most intriguing. Manning makes the Broncos better today and allows Elway to make them better in the future as well.