AFC West: Branden Weeden

Peyton Manning recently signed a five-year deal with the Denver Broncos. Yet, at 36, Manning probably has three good years left before Denver must re-assess their future.

In an Insider piece Insider,Todd McShay writes there is a perfect developmental prospect available in this draft for the Broncos -- Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler.

The 6-foot-7 Osweiler has a big arm, but he is raw and he needs time to learn the game. He’d have time and top-notch mentoring from Manning. The Broncos are clearly in accordance with McShay on Osweiler. The team’s brass has studied him and I think he could be a target of the team in the third round if he is available.

Meanwhile, here are several of the Jon Gruden quarterback camp videos. Check out the videos of Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Osweiler and Kirk Cousins. The Chiefs and Broncos have been linked to these players.

In other AFC West news:

NFL.com reports the Ravens will be working out quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Dennis Dixon. Boller was Oakland’s backup last season and he is not expected to be back with the Raiders in 2012. Dixon visited Denver a few weeks ago. The Broncos still have some interest in Dixon.

ESPN The Magazine offers a wonderful look at Manning’s process in free agency and the special mentorship he leaned on during the trying time. It’s a worth a check.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen talks about what he is looking for from young quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
There are several interesting quarterback prospects available in the draft next week.

Had he not been taken by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the supplemental draft, Terrelle Pryor would have been one of them. After he became ineligible to play his senior season at Ohio State, Pryor was put in the supplemental pick and he was nabbed by the late Al Davis, who loved his natural ability.

As a result, the Raiders surrendered what would have been the No. 77 pick of this draft. I checked in with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. to get his view on where Pryor would have fit in this draft class of quarterbacks. Muench said he thinks Pryor would have fit right around the middle of the third round, right in the value area of the pick Oakland used to get him.

Muench said he thinks Pryor likely would have been taken a round or so lower had he not been eligible for the supplemental draft because the year missed could slow his development. Still, Muench said because of Pryor’s immense natural gifts, he’d have a place in this draft.

Muench thinks Pryor would be the eighth best quarterback prospect this April. The top-level quarterbacks are, of course, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. Muench believes Brandon Weeden, Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles and Brock Osweiler are all solid second-or-third round picks.

He’d slide Pryor in after that group. Muench sees him as a better prospect than the next group of quarterbacks that includes Russell Wilson, Kellen Moore and Ryan Lindley. Pryor has to improve in several areas, including decision making, before he can be considered a starting candidate, Muench says.

The Raiders are expected to sign a backup quarterback and keep Pryor as their third option. But there is no doubt he is still a developmental player who has plenty of value.
With Peyton Manning coming and Tim Tebow going out, the Broncos still are not settled at the quarterback position.

Who is going to be Manning's backup?

Denver could always opt to keep Tebow, but ESPN has reported the team will try to trade him. They may even release him if they don’t find a trade partner.

The matter of Manning’s backup is significant. Manning passed the Broncos’ physical and he has been cleared to play in 2012 after missing all of last season with a neck injury. But there has to be a backup plan.

There aren’t too many great options out there. The top backup options are Byron Leftwich, Matt Leinart, Charlie Batch Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Billy Volek, Josh Johnson and Dennis Dixon. Of that group, I think Volek -- who was released by the Chargers last week -- could be the best option. He is a serviceable player in a pinch.

Denver could always draft a quarterback to groom behind Manning. Manning, who turns 36 Saturday, probably has at least three solid seasons remaining in him if his neck holds up.

It might be a little early to draft a quarterback in the early rounds and I think Denver is now out of the Brandon Weeden mix. Denver has closely scouted him, but he will be 29 during the season. There is little chance Denver will take a quarterback who may not be in the position to start until he is well in his 30s.
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, the Kansas City Chiefs are likely out of the running for Peyton Manning.

Despite the team’s public announcement that it was interested in Manning, it appears nothing has developed. Where does that leave the Chiefs' quarterback situation heading into 2012?

Right where it was prior to Manning becoming a free agent: It is Matt Cassel’s job until further notice.

Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli said at the combine that the starting quarterback job wasn’t necessarily open. It is Cassel’s job, but there will be competition.

Like any team looking at Manning, the Chiefs were interested in a rare opportunity to pursue a superstar. That is no knock on Cassel. The reality is, 32 teams would prefer Manning to Cassel. That’s just the way it is.

Still, with Manning apparently out of the picture, expect the Chiefs to continue to look at quarterbacks this offseason, albeit on a lesser scale. Candidates include Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell and Chad Henne. If the Chiefs are looking for a pure backup for Cassel, Brady Quinn could be an option.

I could also see the Chiefs looking at Branden Weeden or Kirk Cousins if they are available when the Chiefs pick in the second round.

The Chiefs will add a quarterback this offseason. The only question is whether Cassel will be truly pushed or not. Of course, had the Manning pursuit worked out, Cassel might have been pushed right out of Kansas City.

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