Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Kevin Roberts of Fantasy Football Overdose. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more on Denver Broncos stats, news and rumors visit Fantasy Football Overdose – your online source for anything about fantasy football.
The Denver Broncos could potentially have an interesting decision on their hands this March. Star quarterback Peyton Manning has stated numerous times over the year that he has every intention of returning for the 2014 season. However, if March testings on his surgically repaired neck don’t go as planned, it’s entirely possible a decision on retirement would be made for him.
That isn’t likely to be the case, but the mere possibility, plus the fact that Manning will be 38 in March and could get hurt or retire at any time in the next year or two should have John Elway and the Broncos looking to the future at the quarterback position.
As they do so, a very important question needs to be asked: is Brock Osweiler the answer for life after Manning, or does Denver need to chase after more passing talent in this or next year’s draft?
The good is pretty obvious. Osweiler has insane size at almost 6’8”. He’s displayed a “power arm” in practices, and has also given off strong confidence. For all intents and purposes, it appears that Osweiler does remain Denver’s franchise quarterback for the future.
Osweiler having size, confidence and a cannon arm aren’t news, though. We already knew that about him when he came out of Arizona State. While learning behind arguably the greatest regular season quarterback of all-time can only aid Osweiler in his development, the same concerns that he carried into the draft process back in 2012 have to still cause some concerns.
Coming out of Arizona State, the biggest concerns with Osweiler’s game was that he was raw, inexperienced, lacked great decision-making and seemed a little predictable at times.
It’s clear that the rawness and inexperience concerns can’t be addressed until he actually starts a game – or several of them. Until that happens, those concerns have to continue to ring true, at least to a certain extent.
Decision-making, accuracy and predictability probably has to go right along with that.
There are definitely enough reasons for Denver to scratch their heads here and rethink the quarterback position beyond Manning. However, he’s still a beast in terms of size and arm strength, and also possesses great mobility for how big he is.
More important than some flaws scouts found back in 2012, however, has been how ineffective the Broncos have been in Osweiler’s preseason appearances. Just last season, Osweiler was especially weak in a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Granted, even Seattle’s third string defense probably isn’t the easiest task, but Denver simply couldn’t sustain drives with Osweiler under center.
These are things that time can help, as well as Osweiler actually having the luxury of being on the field as the same time as the Broncos’ top passing weapons. Still, there has to be a little bit of doubt in Denver that he is for sure the guy once Manning finally hangs ’em up.
Osweiler is entrenched as Manning’s top backup and will still almost surely get the first crack at being Denver’s franchise passer once Manning goes, but seventh-round pick Zac Dysert is the only other quarterback on the roster and Denver might do themselves a favor by adding a little more talent to the pool to protect themselves.
With Osweiler’s future needing to at least be assessed before the 2014 NFL Draft, we thought we’d take a look at three guys in this year’s draft that the Broncos could take somewhere in the middle rounds:
Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
Is anyone’s draft stock rising faster than Garoppolo’s when it comes to the quarterback position? It’s hard to imagine that being the case. Thanks to great weeks at the Shrine game and Senior Bowl, the Eastern Illinois product is shooting up draft boards and having some think he could be a quality second round pick.
Scouts are said to be a little worried about Garoppolo’s hand size and level of competition he faced, and rightfully so. However, Garoppolo has the skill-set and physical ability to be a true gem in this year’s draft. Blessed with nice arm strength and a quick release, Garoppolo was insanely prolific in his final season (over 5,000 passing yards and 53 touchdowns). There is a lot to like about him, and if teams can get past the fact that he didn’t face many tough defenses, the shine on him will really start to show.
It’s not all that likely he slides enough that Denver would want to pull the trigger on him, as they have other bigger needs than a future quarterback at the moment. However, if he’s there in round four or later, he’s someone Denver will want to consider.
A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
McCarron could be one of the top passing gems in this draft, as he isn’t blessed with insane physical ability, but has the leadership and skill-set of a Tom Brady. With that said, he does have a better arm and is more of a gamer than Alabama’s most recent quarterbacks.
He’s not widely regarded as a starter at the next level, but he’s a proven winner that has the natural tools to be a successful quarterback at the next level. He’ll have to find a way to get past his physical limitations, but coming in and learning behind Manning could go a long way in helping to make that happen. Physically he wouldn’t be an exciting get in this year’s draft, but if he fell to the fourth round or later, the Broncos would have to consider him an upgrade over Dysert and a candidate to push Osweiler down the road.
Aaron Murray (Georgia)
Murray does not have ideal size (six feet) for the next level and is even coming off of a torn ACL, but he has a good arm and has displayed solid accuracy at Georgia. He’s also shown up big in some huge games and has done well in some explosive shootouts. His height and knee injury are legit red flags, though, so he can be expected to slide past the third round fairly easily. If the Broncos aren’t turned off by his lack of size, they could consider him later in the draft. If he fell to round five or later, he’d be an absolute steal.