3. Brock Osweiler, 2012-2015
The Denver Broncos signed Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in the 2012 offseason, one of the biggest free agent acquisitions in the history of American professional sports. Despite their investment in Manning, John Elway knew the importance of a good backup, so he used a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on former Arizona State star Brock Osweiler.
Was Osweiler the best draft selection at the time? Not really. Better prospects like Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins were still on the board at the time, but Elway became infatuated with Osweiler and took him anyway.
For the first three years of his NFL career, we would hardly see Osweiler at all. He attempted just 17 passes from 2012-14 for the Broncos and didn't really play any snaps of actual consequence. By the time the 2015 season rolled around, many in Broncos Country were nervous that the investment in Osweiler was going to turn out to be a complete lost cause because he had never played and it was getting close to the time that Peyton Manning might be passing on the torch.
Manning suffered a foot injury during that 2015 season, forcing Osweiler into his most extensive action yet. And he came through. Playing in 8 games, Osweiler helped the Broncos to a 5-2 record in the seven games he started and that included a couple of game-winning drives and some gutsy performances.
The most notable that many remember is Osweiler's work in the team's comeback win at home against New England, an overtime thriller in the snow that had massive implications on the AFC playoff standings that year.
Although Osweiler was benched in the final game of the season when Manning was healthy again, his contributions to the Super Bowl 50 team cannot be diminished. The Broncos may not get the top seed in the AFC without Osweiler's help and if they don't get the top seed, they lose home-field advantage and that was a huge factor for this particular team.
Even though Osweiler spurned the Broncos the next offseason, he deserves credit as one of the best backup QBs in franchise history for his work in 2015 alone.