Trevor Siemian could make this quarterback battle for the Denver Broncos a three horse race. This is why he should not be overlooked…
It has been a week since the Broncos made their biggest splash of the offseason, making a trade and moving up in the first round of the NFL Draft to draft the heir apparent to Peyton Manning, Paxton Lynch. For the past week, opinions have been flying about who should start for the Broncos; should it be the youngster Lynch, who is clearly the man that John Elway pegged as the future face of the franchise, or should it be the veteran Mark Sanchez. The reviews are very mixed when it comes to Lynch; I have heard he is ready to go now, and as our very own Cameron Parker suggested, can possibly be the Rookie of the Year. I’ve also heard suggestions that Lynch needs multiple years to be ready to play in the NFL.
I would have to agree with the latter suggestion here. I have studied game after game of Lynch from his time at Memphis, and have come to the conclusion that he will need, at the very least, a year, probably two, to become the type of QB that Elway envisioned when he drafted him. Throwing him into the fire now could be a move that could bury him for the long term. The offensive set that he ran at Memphis just doesn’t translate to the NFL level, where Lynch will be asked to play far more from under center, stand in the pocket, read progressions, and throw from the pocket. Lynch currently has a
tendency to abandon the pocket extremely quickly and move to a scramble drill, and while he is very good once things break down, and he is certain to have a level of success in the NFL doing this, it is not a recipe for sustained success. Teams will game plan around this, and ultimately trap him in the pocket which will lead to a lot of sacks. Lynch’s downfield accuracy also comes into question when you dive into the tape. Lynch had a lot of stat-padding screens at Memphis, which is fine, but when you look at him actually pushing the ball down the field, the results are much more mixed.
He made some beautiful throws down the field, without a doubt, but he also made some very inaccurate throws. He cannot survive on screens in this league, and learning how to read NFL defenses and work through progressions will be something that Lynch will certainly struggle with early. Lynch does display huge upside, and if brought up correctly, he can be a superstar in this league, there is no doubt about it, but he will need some time to learn how to play quarterback in the NFL, and that just does not happen overnight. I love Paxton Lynch as a prospect, but the thought of him starting this year, trying to defend a Super Bowl title is a bit of a scary proposition if the Broncos are to have any chance to repeat.
This would seem to lead us to Mark Sanchez being the starting quarterback for the Broncos for 2016. Sanchez has really done everything he can to win over his teammates, as well as the fans. He has absolutely aced his test thus far, and has done everything possible to grasp the starting job. He has said all the right things, and displayed all the actions a team wants from his starting quarterback, including flying his receivers to Los Angeles to work out, and treating his offensive lineman to baseball games, and spending hour after hour in the film room.
But, for Sanchez, this type of behavior in April is nothing new. Sanchez has been questioned for numerous on-field mistakes, but he has always been a great teammate, the hardest worker in the locker room, and has always acted the part of franchise quarterback no matter where he’s been. The bad news for Sanchez is this is now his 8th year in the league. Historically quarterbacks who are this far in haven’t been able to change their stars the way the Broncos and Broncos fans are hoping.
What the numbers, and the film study says, is that Sanchez
is a fine backup quarterback, who can win you a few games along the way. But he is a turnover machine who will lose as many games with his arm as he will win. Unless he puts the pads on and is a truly different quarterback than who he has been for eight years, things probably aren’t going to go as well for him as people seem to think right now. For a team trying to defend a World Championship, neither of these options seem like a great option for trying to win-now. Elway has always said he wants to win from now on, which would include this year as well, and there could end up being a better option than either Sanchez or Lynch for the 2016 season.
This option would be the third, mostly unheard of option; Trevor Siemian. People forget that John Elway drafted the Northwestern kid in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, and at the time he was coming off a torn ACL in his knee. He woudn’t really seem like too likely of a candidate to start for the Broncos this year, but he has been here longer than any other QB on the roster. I decided to take a closer look at what he did last year in his limited preseason playing time, and came away highly impressed.
After going back and watching the three appearances Siemian made in the preseason multiple times, I came to the conclusion that this kid can play. Of course, the competition level he was going against was far less than he would see in the regular season, however it was undeniable what he could bring to an offense. Coming out of a pro-style system at Northwestern, he operated in the preseason terrifically from under center, and out of the shotgun. He showed great mobility on his bootleg runs, but was still able to sit in the pocket, and display good pocket presence and footwork, using his legs to slide away from rushes, step up in the pocket, and still keeping his eyes downfield. The most impressive thing Siemian displayed was his ability to
straight up sling the rock anywhere on the field. He made powerful, NFL throws, to multiple areas of the field. He wasn’t scared to push the ball down the field, but also didn’t force things, consistently hitting the check-down when necessary. He also seemed to be able to pick up on favorable matchups before the snap, something he probably learned from the master of the line of scrimmage himself, Peyton Manning. Of course, this is all a very limited same size, but he did get a full year to learn how to prepare and lead a team under Peyton, and that experience can prove to be invaluable. Watch a few clips I was able to dig up from the preseason last year.
The first video shows his ability to come from under center, display excellent footwork on his drop, and throw a great pass to Bennie Fowler, who also made a spectacular catch. You will notice on the second angle that there was a wide open tide end in the flat. Instead he didn’t have a problem pushing the ball up the sideline to Fowler who had a step, and delivered a ball in between the corner and safety that was coming over.
The second clip shows Siemian working from the shotgun, but still showing pristine footwork, staying in the pocket and firing a perfect back shoulder throw to Corbin Louks in the closing minutes of the preseason game vs. the Texans. This actually proved to be a game winning touchdown pass.
This last video again shows Siemian working out of the shotgun. This was just a phenomenal throw to Bennie Fowler in the corner of the endzone, and it is throws like this that make me believe that Siemian can play in this league.
I don’t know how much of a shake Siemian is going to get in training camp, but with Sanchez being a very well-known product in this league, and his play equating to a backup, and Lynch probably needing a year or two to develop the necessary tools to be a good NFL quarterback, could it be Siemian who is actually coming out of the tunnel on September 8th? Undoubtedly, he will make rookie-type mistakes, and he will have his fair share of turnovers, but you also get that with Sanchez as well. With the way he can sling it, and the fundamentals he displayed, if he is given a chance, he could really grab the reigns and take hold of the starting job this year. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Sanchez as the starter at the beginning of the season, with Siemian as the backup, and Lynch taking his redshirt year as the third string QB. If Sanchez falters, it could be Siemian that comes in and brings this team back to life, with Lynch sliding into the backup role.
This training camp should be one of the most exciting training camps in recent years, and I am hoping the coaches are true to their word and that there truly is an open competition at the quarterback spot. From what I have seen in a limited sample size, Siemian looks like he can really play in this league, and I’d like to see him get a fair shake to win the starting job. He could prove to be the best option for 2016, and is someone that Broncos Country should be talking about a little bit more. This shouldn’t just be a 2-horse race, lets add Siemian into this mix, and may the best man win the job, and bring the Lombardi back to Denver yet again.
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