John Elway gets his quarterback again

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
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OsweilerMatt Kartozian/US PresswireBrock Osweiler will have the luxury of learning behind Broncos QB Peyton Manning.

Any questions about how much Broncos executive VP John Elway values classic strong-armed quarterbacks?

In a yet another statement of his anti-Tim Tebow approach to the position, Elway made his second big quarterback splash in a month by taking intriguing Arizona State prospect Brock Osweiler with the No. 57 overall pick.

Bypassing more pressing needs, Elway made this pick with the most important position on the field in mind -- beginning roughly in the 2015 season. It’s clear Elway wants to go to bed at night without having to worry about who his quarterback is going to be for the next dozen years and he clearly wants to distance himself from the option days of Tebow, which Elway tolerated only until he found a special solution.

Of course, the immediate future at quarterback is Peyton Manning. After electing to continue his career with the Broncos, Manning signed a five-year deal with Denver four days before his 36th birthday last month. By all indications, Manning is healthy and he should be able to give Denver at least three good years.

The 6-foot-7 Osweiler is now in line to be Manning’s successor. The Broncos see something special in Osweiler. They didn’t need to take a quarterback this year or next year. But they see a raw specimen in Osweiler.

The knock on him is he is a bit green. So what better team for him to end up with than the Broncos? ESPN analyst Todd McShay has said on multiple occasions that Denver is the perfect spot for Osweiler.

He can watch and learn from Manning without any pressure. Osweiler -- who said one of his closest friends is Elway’s son, Jack, a former Arizona State player -- realizes the great opportunity he is getting.

“I could not be any more excited to be going to Denver to learn from Peyton Manning,” Osweiler told reporters Friday night. “A lot of quarterbacks might be upset about having to sit behind somebody, whereas I look at it as a tremendous opportunity to learn from one of the best, if not the best, quarterback to ever play the game.”

If Osweiler can’t parlay his time with two of the greatest all-time quarterbacks into NFL success, then that’s his fault. And if Osweiler is a flop, the Broncos will know it before he needs to take over for Manning from extensive practice and preseason play. Thus, the Broncos will have the opportunity to find another replacement for Manning if necessary.

Sure, this is a luxury pick and Denver could have benefited from a receiver or a running back at the No. 57 spot. (They traded up to take San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman in the third round.) But if this is a guy the Broncos think can be special, why not take him?

[+] EnlargeJohn Elway
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireJohn Elway has completely turned over the quarterback position in Denver this offseason.
Like all 2012 quarterback prospects not named Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, Osweiler was deeply dissected and opinions varied on him. Some scouts thought he deserved to be a first-round pick, while others thought he should be taken in the fourth round.

The Broncos long have followed Osweiler. Their pursuit of him heightened after Manning signed. I think he moved up Denver’s draft board based on the combination of Osweiler being a similar type of quarterback as Manning and the fact that he can be groomed for years.

Had Manning not signed, I don’t think Osweiler would have been the pick. Had Manning gone elsewhere, I am convinced Denver would have traded up from No. 25 to take Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and make him an instant starter. Weeden went to Cleveland at No. 22 and he is expected to start.

Osweiler, like Weeden, can drop jaws with the long pass. In fact, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen wrote that many scouts think Osweiler can make every throw. While McShay and others are high on the former basketball player, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. worries about Osweiler’s accuracy and Kiper doesn’t think Osweiler plays with the command of a player his size. However, fellow ESPN analyst Jon Gruden likes Osweiler and likes the fit in Denver.

“He can cut it loose … he is a pocket passer and he moves around better than people think,” Gruden said. “It’s a good pick by Elway.”

There is no doubt that this was an Elway pick. After enduring a forced relationship with Tebow, Elway has made sure he is now equipped with his type of passers for the present and the future.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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