Chicago, IL — The Denver Broncos sat back and were able to mostly let the draft come to them Thursday night. The guy they had their eye on was slipping through a somewhat bizarre first round funnel.
Then, when Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch fell to within striking distance, John Elway picked up the phone and orchestrated a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for the No. 26 pick in the first round. They gave up their 2016 third round pick (No. 94 overall) to move up from No. 31.
The Broncos got their guy. And as he received the news back at home, surrounded by his family and friends, a weeping Lynch struggled to keep his emotions intact.
“It was honestly the greatest feeling," Lynch said Thursday night. "I know the work I have put into this and all the stuff I have done going through this process and meeting all these people and talking to all these people. You just want to get picked and go to a team and get to work. This is a dream come true to me and the Denver Broncos organization is obviously one of the best in the league.”
After a nightmarish offseason at the quarterback position, the Broncos have had nothing but question marks at the most important position on the field. Peyton Manning retired. Brock Osweiler took his ball and defected to Houston.
Mark Sanchez was enlisted to serve as a veteran failsafe, and he's still the likely 2016 starter. And Trevor Siemian waited in the wings — a developmental, former seventh round pick entering just his second year.
In a conference call, Lynch talked about how he fits in with the World Champions.
“Obviously I’m very excited and I understand the role that I have coming in," Lynch said. "There have been a lot of great quarterbacks that have come through Denver and a good one obviously last year with Peyton [Manning], so I know there are a lot of shoes to fill. But I’m glad I’m on a team now and I’m ready to get up there and get to work.”
As a junior, he threw for 3,776 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just four interceptions — an impressive campaign. He has the size, athleticism and arm talent to excel in Gary Kubiak's West Coast Offense variant. Some compare him to Osweiler because of his size, but Lynch is hitting the pros as a much more polished and natural thrower of the football.
"When I watch him on film, the thing that’s really exciting is that this guy extends plays," Kubiak said Thursday night from Dove Valley. "He [Lynch] has the knack for making people miss, extending plays, and it’s really hard in this business to coach guys to keep their eyes down the field when they’re moving, and this guy does a great job of that. [He is a] big, strong kid, makes all the throws, moves around very, very well and, like I said, very motivated too. That’s one thing I really liked about him when he was here was how motivated he is to come in here and be successful. So, I just feel very fortunate.”
Here's what our Draft expert, Erick Trickel, had to say about Lynch in his 'Finding Broncos' scouting report. A must-read for any Broncos fan.
The Denver Broncos scheme really is perfect for Lynch. He has the legs to scramble for some yards. Throws on the move really well, which opens up their bootlegs from the playbook a lot more. He also has the arm to challenge defenses deep, which helps the run game and underneath throws as it opens up the field more. The coaching staff will need to put in some work with Lynch in order to get him ready, but watching his film it was obvious why there is serious interest in Lynch from Denver.
Don't expect the Broncos to hand Lynch the starting job. He'll be in a heated competition with Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian. Kubiak nipped that thought in the bud quickly and emphasized that it'll be a competition.
“Yeah, I mean they’re all going to compete," Kubiak said. "The great thing about our situation right now with Mark and Trevor and of course Paxton now—they’re all coming up together. Even though Mark is a veteran player, he’s new in our system. So the growth together will be a good situation for all three of them. But there are no givens on our team. Everybody competes, and I’m expecting him to come in here and make up some ground really quick.”
As for Lynch, now a quarterback with a first round pedigree, he's confident in his abilities, but also knows he has a lot to learn.
“I wouldn’t say I am a project," Lynch said. "Obviously every quarterback coming out of college, we have stuff that they need to work on. I don’t think any quarterback is ready so I guess you could say every quarterback is a project when they first get in. There are some good quarterbacks on the roster right now and I know there will be good competition between all of us.”
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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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