ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—In his three years in Denver, Brock Osweiler has exemplified patience. Selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, John Elway and the Denver Broncos brought him to the Mile High City as the heir-apparent to Peyton Manning.
Manning had just signed a five-year deal with the Broncos two months before Osweiler was drafted. Coming off of four neck surgeries and dealing with nerve regeneration issues in his throwing arm, the Broncos were confident enough in Manning’s health to pay him, but until he was faced with live bullets and took that first hit, Elway needed a viable failsafe.
That failsafe was Brock Osweiler. Now in his fourth year and final year with the club, he has played a grand total of 121 snaps. Last season, we got to see the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Osweiler seemingly turn the corner in his development.
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In the preseason, he looked in command. Whether he was stiff-arming would be sack artists, throwing over the middle, scrambling to move the chains, or going over the top of the defense for a touchdown, Osweiler showed Broncos fans that perhaps Elway was right in expending a second round pick on him.
The issue at hand for the Broncos is that Manning is back for another showdown but Osweiler is in the final year of his contract. If Osweiler were a first round pick, the Broncos could option a fifth year on his rookie contract, but he’s not. In looking at extending him, how do you evaluate a player who has less than 200 NFL snaps under his belt? Elway spoke to that yesterday from Dove Valley.
“We’ll evaluate him through training camp and evaluate him through preseason,” Elway said. “I think that he got a lot of reps this offseason and we saw what he could do in practice, so we’ll do the best we can to try to evaluate him. We’ll cross that road when we get there.”
With Osweiler’s cannon arm and mobility, he fits nicely into what Gary Kubiak wants to do in his zone scheme—an offensive system that relies heavily on the running game and by extension, the play-action and bootleg. The Broncos are in a good situation at quarterback, but they have a tough decision to make, if they want to keep Osweiler in Denver, and prevent him from hitting the open market next spring.
“The one thing—I do feel good about Brock,” Elway continued. “I feel good about his progress and we’re fortunate in the fact that Peyton’s been able to play this long. To that respect, it’s been a positive. Obviously to Brock, it’s not been a positive because Brock hasn’t got the playing time, but Brock’s done a tremendous job handling the situation and continued to put his nose to the grindstone. He’s continued to work and that’s all he’s done, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that. We will get something worked out with that later.”
Elway is talking about an extension. Reading between the lines, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that the Broncos hope Osweiler blows them all away in camp and preseason action, so they can offer him an extension in-season.
As for the man coaching him, Gary Kubiak, he has been impressed by Osweiler’s work ethic and leadership. As a former backup to a Hall of Fame quarterback, Kubiak understands the frustrations Osweiler has in waiting for his opportunity behind Peyton Manning.
“I think working with quarterbacks my whole career as a coach and doing it for a while, I have a feeling what it’s like to be that guy,” Kubiak said. “There are a lot of things that I can relate to him. I have been very impressed with him. Work is not a problem, he loves to play and he wants to lead. That’s all you can ask of a player. We gave him ample opportunities in the offseason when we did rest Peyton to take more control of the football team and be put more in that situation. I think he’s grown from that standpoint, but now it’s time to grow even more.”
With the plan to rest Manning's 39-year-old body more often in 2015, as we saw in OTAs, Osweiler is going to get more reps in camp and he'll likely see more snaps in the regular season than he ever has.
Training camp kicks off at 10 a.m. this morning. We’ll get to see exactly how far Osweiler has come from his impressive 2014 preseason and how well he’s assimilated Kubiak’s new system. But for those in Broncos Country pining for Brock, you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer.
Relax. John Elway’s got this.
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WATCH: What Can We Expect From Brock Osweiler In 2015?