Elway said he had to "sacrifice the short-term for the long-term" when he used a second-round pick last month on the Arizona State quarterback rather than drafting a player who could help Manning right away.
The boss of the Denver Broncos was joined by coach John Fox in an hour-long conference call with 6,000 season ticket holders Tuesday, and one caller from suburban Broomfield asked Elway for his reasoning in selecting Osweiler with the 57th overall pick.
The Hall of Fame quarterback, who rejoined the Broncos last year as vice president of football operations, replied: "It's always tough to pick a quarterback that you know is not going to play for you for a while. But I think we have high hopes for him in the future to where once Peyton decides to hang them up that he's the guy in waiting that can keep this (going) and we don't miss a beat ... and we can continue to compete for world championships year in and year out."
Manning signed a five-year, $96 million deal in Denver after his release from Indianapolis. His father, Archie, has said he thinks his son is "year to year" after missing all of last season because of a nerve injury that caused weakness in his throwing arm.
Manning, however, has said he intends to fulfill all five years of his contract.
That would mean a long apprenticeship for Osweiler, a 21-year-old righty from Montana who stands 6-foot-8 and is working hard to fix flaws in his throwing motion to better capitalize on his height advantage.
"It's a perfect situation where there's not the pressure for him to come in and start right away," Elway said. "He's not ready for that. But he's also going to learn from Peyton and ... I think it's a great learning experience for him to where we are set for the future.
"And he's our guy for the future," Elway said. "And sometimes we have to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term to grab the guy that you believe can be that next guy for you, and that's Brock Osweiler."
Many of the questions during the conference call, which the Broncos have been using as a way to connect with their most ardent supporters, centered on Manning and the Broncos' revamped offense.
Manning has been working out at the team's Dove Valley complex since offseason workouts began last month. OTAs start Monday, and that's the first chance for media to see firsthand how the league's only four-time MVP is throwing the football after undergoing a series of neck operations last year.
One caller told Elway he was a child when he saw him more than 25 years ago but didn't get the autograph he'd hoped for, so Elway promised he'd sign something for him now.