Sep 5, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls out in the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a long time since the Denver Broncos have had an MVP at the quarterback position, but since signing Peyton Manning in 2012, they’ve shown just how important and ‘valuable’ having a star player at that position truly is.
Denver has won three straight AFC West titles, two behind the arm of Peyton Manning. They’ve held the top seed in the AFC playoffs in each of his first two years, and figure to be yet again among the top teams in the AFC again in 2014.
But unlike his Indianapolis days, the quarterback position isn’t bare behind Manning in Denver. The Broncos have used two draft picks since 2012 on the QB position, including their hand-picked successor for Manning, former Arizona State star Brock Osweiler.
Osweiler was part of a star-studded class of 2012 quarterbacks coming out of college, but he went in the later portion of the second round due to the fact that he was one of the most raw QBs in the draft. The Broncos saw his arm strength, athletic ability, and natural talent, and decided he was worth their time developing behind Manning.
Denver also used a seventh round pick on Zac Dysert in 2013. Dysert, a strong-armed QB out of Miami (OH) was another guy the Broncos had targeted in the pre-draft process and felt was a steal when they snagged him in the last round of the draft.
All three players spent the entire year on the Broncos’ 53-man roster, which speaks volumes to what the team feels about the development of their young QBs.
There is now a fourth QB joining the race for the Broncos in former North Carolina signal caller Bryn Renner. Renner is the son of a coach and a long-time starter for the Tar Heels who was a big time recruit coming out of high school. He doesn’t have the arm strength of Dysert or Osweiler, but he puts great touch on his passes and is a workhorse in film study and game preparation. He doesn’t make a lot of bad mistakes.
Peyton Manning (15th season — Age 38)
Once again, the Broncos’ Quarterback Position is pretty well set. There are a couple things I think we should look out for as we approach this season, however.
First of all, I think as many have opined, the notion that Peyton Manning is slowing down is nonsense. He has done nothing except turning the calendar that indicates he’s getting older. Having a year off from football revitalized Manning. He’s as healthy as he’s ever been. He’s playing better now than he played in his prime with the Colts.
Manning’s numbers with the Broncos are staggering, and the talent around him is as good as it gets. If you’re asking me, I think Manning is in line for another 45 or more touchdowns this year depending how much more the Broncos emphasize the running game, and I think he’s also in line for another MVP campaign.
Manning has admitted that his arm strength isn’t back yet from his surgery, which is pretty scary considering the reigning MVP could get better than he already is.
With Manning at the helm, the Broncos are a virtual lock to win double digit games and make the playoffs, which is nothing you don’t already know.
Dec 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) warms up before the the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Denver won 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Brock Osweiler (3rd season — Age 23)
Brock is in his third year in the NFL already, and he won’t turn 24 until late-November. That’s a pretty staggering fact to a guy like Brandon Weeden, who came into the league the same year as Osweiler and will turn 31 in October.
This is a player that some Broncos fans have mixed opinions on, and for good reason. We’ve seen a lot of the upside from Osweiler, but we haven’t seen him finish a lot of drives with touchdowns in his pre-season work. Osweiler will have plenty of pre-season reps again this year and is the favorite to win the backup job, a role he embraced as a rookie. Still, three years into this thing, he’s got to be getting antsy. His contract is up after the 2015 season, so the Broncos will want to see what they have in old Oz sooner rather than later, unless they plan on letting him walk after developing in their offense for a few years.
This could also be Osweiler’s last season with coordinator Adam Gase. If Gase takes a head coaching gig after this season, which right now seems likely, the Broncos might trade Osweiler or Dysert to the team Gase goes to (unless it’s a rival AFC team) and allow him to get on the field since Manning appears in line to play out his entire contract, which exceeds Osweiler’s.
There are a lot of questions up in the air surrounding this young player, but he’s a guy that I really liked in the pre-draft process and feel like he can be a really good NFL QB someday soon.
Zac Dysert (2nd season — Age 24)
Dysert, one of the hand-picked quarterbacks by John Elway and company, showed out in last year’s pre-season action, specifically in his performance against the Arizona Cardinals.
After that game, the Broncos knew he couldn’t pass through waivers as desperate as teams are for good, young quarterbacks, so Denver kept him on the 53-man roster all year long.
Aug 29, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Zac Dysert (2) in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Cardinals won 32-24. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
That’s a bold statement to make about a young QB on a Super Bowl team. The Broncos knew Dysert wouldn’t see a down of play in his rookie year, but they were willing to forfeit another position for him.
I see no reason why that won’t continue in 2014 unless someone makes it impossible for them to let go, as Dysert did a year ago.
Bryn Renner (Rookie — Age 24)
Renner is a coaches kid and it’s evident. He was injured for much of his senior season at North Carolina and essentially became a coach himself for the team.
Like I had mentioned before, Renner isn’t the strong-armed QB that Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert are, but he puts great touch on his passes and at the end of his junior season, he looked like he was on his way to a sure-fire day two selection.
Aug 29, 2013; Columbia, SC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner (2) looks to pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
There are times when Renner can absolutely light it up, and he works great in the short-intermediate passing game which will fit Denver’s offense well, but he can also get the ball downfield having had some really strong vertical threats in his time at UNC, including 2014 first round pick Eric Ebron of the Detroit Lions.
Renner is a guy that the Broncos gave the same treatment to in the pre-draft process as they did Zac Dysert. He was identified as a player who fits their system and what their doing. His work habits could definitely earn him a spot on the practice squad, which is something he said he would love the opportunity to be part of.
It wouldn’t pair with history well, but Renner could give the Broncos a tough decision of whether or not to keep a fourth quarterback on the team in the capacity of a practice squad player.