The Denver Broncos will reconvene for organized team activities on Wednesday. The NFL Draft is in the books—it provided the Broncos with nine rookies. The team also signed a slew of undrafted college free agents to come compete and strengthen the bottom of the roster.
The Broncos also added some new contributors via the NFL free agent pool, with the most notable signings coming in the form of tight end Owen Daniels, safety Darian Stewart, and defensive linemen Vance Walker and Antonio Smith. The signing of Smith was exciting, but his future with the Broncos is on hold, as he weathers a child abuse investigation in Texas.
At this time, it’s uncertain whether he’ll participate in OTAs this week. Although it’s clear that Smith knew about the allegations when he signed his one-year, $2M deal with the Broncos, the team clearly did not and they’re taking the opportunity to gather as much information about the situation as possible, before deciding how to proceed with him.
As we get closer to training camp, Mile High Huddle will break down each position group and evaluate the depth chart. We’ll spotlight the player, their role with the team and future prospects. Today, we start with the most crucial of positons—quarterback.
QB1. Peyton Manning
Yes, it’s true. Manning returned to the Broncos for his 18th season. Some see 2015 as Manning’s last rodeo. I do not. Although he struggled down the stretch in 2014, statistically Manning still finished the season as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. A quad injury derailed him late, but he’s back, he’s healthy and he’s ready to learn a new offensive system and compete.
As the Broncos move toward Gary Kubiak’s run-heavy offensive scheme, it’s given rise to the belief that Manning won’t be as prolific in the stat department. While it’s true that he’ll likely see a drop off in passing attempts, I still fully expect him to eclipse the 4,000-yard passing mark, with the over/under on his touchdowns being 35.
At 39 years old, Manning is on the back nine of his career, but he still has plenty of football left in the tank. Kubiak wants to protect Manning by running the ball with authority and stacking the offensive line with fits for the zone blocking scheme. The team drafted two offensive linemen in tackle Ty Sambrailo and guard/center Max Garcia and they return two former All-Pros in Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez.
Manning likely won’t be expected to carry the Broncos, as he has over the last three years. But he’s still the catalyst for all the team’s Super Bowl hopes. Under Kubiak, we can expect to see the Sheriff hit the bench when the Broncos are blowing teams out. Rest will be crucial for Manning down the stretch, if the opportunity presents itself.
QB2. Brock Osweiler
Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Osweiler is now in the fourth and final year of his contract with the Broncos. He was drafted as safety net, should Manning’s return from four neck surgeries go sideways, and to provide the Broncos with a future potential franchise quarterback.
Unfortunately for Osweiler, Manning found a way to cheat Father Time, resulting in the former Sun Devil seeing no meaningful snaps as a pro. But being in a contract year, the Broncos will take every opportunity to give Osweiler some reps with live bullets, which ties into the notion of resting Manning whenever possible.
Osweiler will be the Broncos No. 2 QB. He’s a great fit for Kubiak’s zone scheme, which accentuates the skill-set of signal callers who have a penchant for mobility, like Osweiler. Although he’s 6-foot-8, he is surprisingly fleet of foot, and with his rocket arm, he could be a phenomenal weapon in the play-action and bootleg game.
Many in the fanbase are itching to see what Brock Osweiler can do, especially in Kubiak’s system. Jake Plummer, also a former Sun Devil, had career highs statistically (2002-05) under Kubiak. It’s plausible that Osweiler could follow suit. If “Oz” has a strong training camp, don’t be surprised to see the Broncos offer to extend him early and tie him down for three years, which would keep him in Denver through the duration of Manning’s contract and give him some time as the starter afterwards.
QB3. Zac Dysert
The Broncos selected Dysert in the seventh round back in 2013. As a rookie, he impressed the coaching staff enough to make the final roster. Some even felt like he outplayed Osweiler in the preseason. The Broncos were impressed, but they carried him on the roster primarily out of fear of losing him on the waiver wire.
Dysert wasn’t as fortunate in 2014. He spent the year on the Broncos practice squad and now faces the prospect of having to compete for the No. 3 QB with a guy the Broncos just drafted in the seventh round. More on him shortly.
In the limited opportunities I’ve had to study Dysert as a Bronco, I’ve come away impressed with his abilities to make plays. Some guys, when the lights go on, simply find a way to get it done on the grid-iron, even if they don’t impress in practice. Dysert is one of them.
His technique is raw and his accuracy is questionable but he has mobility and the knack for making plays. However, this year, he’ll have to fight off another John Elway draft pick, to even hope for a spot on the practice squad, let alone the final 53-man roster.
QB4. Trevor Siemian
The Broncos used one of their seventh round compensatory picks on the Northwestern QB. With CSU-Pueblo’s Chris Bonner still on the board, it was somewhat of a shocker to see the Broncos take Siemian, especially considering that he’s rehabbing from a torn ACL.
Elway talked about Siemian as a guy whose technique the Broncos liked, along with his toughness. Honestly, in the tape I’ve studied on him, I don’t particularly see anything compelling about Siemian. But the Broncos drafted him and if he can get healthy enough to compete in training camp, which he believes he will, we’ll get to see what’s what soon enough.
More Broncos Stories
I can’t see any scenario wherein Siemian makes the final 53-man roster as a rookie. And I’m very dubious that he can outplay Dysert, who has two years with the team under his belt. I hate to say it, but Siemian could be a guy out of the NFL by this time next year.
The only upside for Siemian is that the Broncos are making an effort to stack the roster with young developmental quarterbacks to prepare for the eventuality of life without Manning. He’ll get the opportunity to ply his wares, but I don’t see it working out for Trevor Siemian.
In the video below, Brandon Perna answers a mailbag question about Brock Osweiler getting more playing time in 2015.