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Broncos Roundtable: What moves should John Elway make in the quarterback room?

Zac Stevens Avatar
March 16, 2020

Drew Lock is going to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2020.

But if other options do present themselves, who is the best option out there? If Lock is, in fact, the Broncos’ guy next year, what backup should they land?

The DNVR Broncos Crew breaks down all of the quarterback questions.

IF YOU HAD TO PICK AN AVAILABLE BACKUP QUARTERBACK FOR DENVER, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Ryan

Brett Rypien — Look, the Broncos aren’t good enough to survive on the back of a backup quarterback anyway, so, to me, investing in the position is a waste. If Drew Lock goes down for any extended period of time—touch wood—there’s nobody out there at a reasonable price who could keep this ship afloat.

But Ryan, what about the idea of an extra coach? Well, that’s Rypien’s best attribute. One source told me this offseason that Rypien is “The Drew Lock Whisperer,” with the idea being that whenever Lock isn’t getting something the way the coaches explain it, Rypien finds a way to help him learn it through a different scope.

The Broncos have plenty of other needs, Rypien can hold things down in the QB room.

Zac

Trevor Siemian — Bring Trev back! The Broncos should have never traded their former starting quarterback in the first place. But now that they did, it’s time to bring him back as the ideal backup quarterback, mentor, and friend to Drew Lock for the next decade.

Not only would Siemian be perfect in helping Drew maneuver being a quarterback in Denver, but he’s also the ideal profile of what a team wants as a backup.

Siemian has the football I.Q. to help coach Lock in the film room, he would never be a distraction, and he has proven that he can step in and be a winner if need be. In fact, he has a winning record as a starting quarterback in the NFL and has more career touchdowns than interceptions.

Additionally, Siemian won’t break the bank, he would connect well with Lock, and he could be to Drew Lock what Gary Kubiak was to John Elway for the next decade.

Mase

Chase Daniel — When your starter is young, what you want from your backup is someone who 1) is competitive, but won’t complain about being the reserve, 2) capable of leading the team for a month and keeping it afloat and 3) a quasi-coach who can serve as another sounding board and can selflessly provide help to the quarterback who is learning on the job.

Daniel, whose contract with the Bears is expiring, checks all the boxes.

There is nothing spectacular about Daniel. He’s thrown 218 passes in his 10-season career, completing 68.3 percent of them. His touchdown-to-interception ratio of 7-to-5 won’t wow anyone. His career passer rating of 87.5 is average.

But that’s what you need. Like Lock, he’s a Missouri alumnus, providing a shared point of reference that can help the bonding process in the QB meeting room. He demonstrated in the last two seasons with the Bears that he could run the offense with no drop-off from starter Mitchell Trubisky, and at times he was more efficient than the No. 2 overall pick in 2017.

Daniel will know his role, provide support, and be ready and unfazed if needed. He’s the perfect veteran complement to Lock.

WHAT QUARTERBACK IN THE DRAFT WOULD YOU WANT DENVER TO TAKE TO JOIN THE CURRENT GROUP?

Ryan

Jalen Hurts — The Broncos need to get more dangerous on offense. Period.

If Hurts falls into the later rounds, he is a guy you can add to your roster that makes you more multiple on offense. On top of being a potential backup, he’s a short-yardage back and a red-zone weapon.

Think Taysom Hill.

Zac

Tua Tagovailoa — I typically don’t like the idea of two top young quarterbacks being on the same team because I want a franchise to invest all of their resources in allowing one guy to succeed.

But if Tua were to somehow magically fall to No. 15, Elway should jump all over it. Especially because it wouldn’t go against my philosophy.

Immediately after drafting Tua, Elway would announce he’ll be placed on IR for his entire rookie season, making 2020 entirely about seeing if Drew Lock can be the guy.

If you find out Lock actually doesn’t have what it takes, then you have a healthy Tua, that was supposed to go No. 1 overall before he got injured, ready to play.

If Lock does show he’s the guy, then let teams overbid for he and Tua. Take the best deal available after deciding which quarterback you want to stick with for the future. Teams will overpay for both.

Win-win.

Mase

Kevin Davidson — If you’re not a fan of Ivy League football, the name might elicit a quick “Who?”

But Davidson hopped onto the radar with a solid week at the East-West Shrine Game. He was the most consistent passer on display in St. Petersburg that week, and showed a smoothness going through his progressions that other quarterbacks there often lacked.

The negative on Davidson? The hands. According to nflcombineresults.com, Davidson’s hand size of 8 1/4 inches was the smallest for any quarterback measured at the NFL Combine in 18 years, since Vanderbilt’s Greg Zolman. That said, both of the Detmer brothers — Heisman Trophy winner Ty and ex-CU QB Koy — had smaller hands than Davidson. Both were long-term backups for most of their careers, but they also had lengthy NFL stays — 15 seasons for Ty and 14 seasons for Koy.

Whether you have a Hall of Famer or a journeyman as your QB1, you should add a young quarterback to the room every year. It’s the old Ron Wolf philosophy from his Packers days of the 1990s, when the future Hall of Fame GM brought in Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer, Matt Hasselbeck and Kurt Warner, even with Brett Favre atop the depth chart. All four of those quarterbacks went on to lead other teams to the playoffs, with Hasselbeck and Warner guiding their teams to the Super Bowl.

The Broncos should add a back-of-the-draft or priority free-agent quarterback like Davidson or Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, and then even if Lock proves to be “The Guy” for the long haul, they should keep churning the room, because if you have too many good young quarterbacks, you can always trade the surplus for more than the initial investment. If Brett Rypien takes some steps forward and a young rookie fares better than expected, then the Broncos have a good problem: too many young passers with promise.

IF THE BRONCOS SIGN A STARTING VETERAN FREE AGENT QUARTERBACK, WHO WILL IT BE?

Ryan

No one, no way, no how — Sorry, I’m not playing along with this one. The Broncos aren’t getting a starting veteran quarterback. The have a blossoming star on their hand, and despite his coy attitude, John Elway knows that.

Maybe if Tom Brady was banging down the door to come to Denver for some reason, it would be a conversation worth having, but he wants to be wanted, and the Broncos aren’t going down that road.

Zac

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. — This is easy, and yes, that’s Brady’s full name. If John Elway wants to table Drew Lock—which he shouldn’t—one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time should sign the greatest quarterback of all time.

Has TB12 declined? Sure. Is he also a six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback? Yep. Is he a four-time Super Bowl MVP? Absolutely. Is he a three-time MVP? Mmhmm. Has he been to four of the past five Super Bowls? Yes! Is he currently the reigning Super Bowl champ? He is! Is he currently coming off a 12-4 season? You know it!

This would be the ultimate win-now move, and we all know how John loves win-now moves. Additionally, John admitted at the NFL Combine he would give Tom a call if he hits the open market.

Additionally, in Elway’s eyes, this would be the perfect plan for continuing the development of Lock because Brady would only be in town for one or two years at the most. And John’s original plan for Lock was having him sit for many years before being the guy. Signing a starting veteran quarterback would be the big-time play. Get the one with the highest ceiling.

Not only would it be an Elway move, in John’s eyes, it makes sense. Don’t truly sleep on it.

Mase

Jameis Winston — Crazy, huh?

He has been a starter his entire career, but he wouldn’t necessarily be one in Denver. And that’s okay. A year to practice, study and hit the reset button would be healthy for Winston, who spent the 2019 season digging himself deep with dreadful decisions and making spectacular throws as he attempted to escape from the holes he created.

John Elway wanted to give Brock Osweiler some “football rehab” in 2017. It didn’t work out, but it doesn’t mean the Broncos can’t try again. Winston could be the next ex-Bucs quarterback to find success after leaving Tampa Bay; if he does, he would join Doug Williams, Steve Young, Steve DeBerg, Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer in the legacy of Bucs passers whose best days came with the Gulf Coast in their rear-view mirrors.

This could be a roll of the dice worth taking.

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