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Sean Payton and George Paton identify what traits are overrated in the Denver Broncos' quarterback search

Zac Stevens Avatar
April 15, 2024

The Denver Broncos are, once again, looking for their franchise quarterback. That’s the bad news.

But there is good news. In fact, there are two pieces of good news.

The first is it’s easier to evaluate quarterbacks now than it was in the past, according to Sean Payton.

“I think it has become a little bit easier than it was 20 years ago,” the head coach said at the NFL Annual League Meeting on Mar. 25. “Twenty years ago, regardless of what you’re looking for, it wasn’t it. You had to project how they were going to throw. You had to project how they were going to handle the pro system. Certainly what they’re giving us today is different, but you are exposed to more of what you might ask them to do today than you were 20 years ago.”

The second is Payton isn’t lacking confidence in Denver’s ability to find their next signal caller.

“I think we’ll be really good at this, and I think to some degree, we’re glad that a lot of people aren’t,” the head coach stated with confidence at the NFL Combine in February.

Because of that, and Denver going on nearly a decade since Peyton Manning retired, the Broncos “better,” in the words of Payton, find their next franchise quarterback soon.

“I saw this humorous meme the other day where there’s a Broncos fan with a shirt on with like eight quarterback’s names crossed through them and he’s drinking the quarterback ‘Kool-Aid.’ Our job is to make sure this next one doesn’t have a line through it,” Payton said at the Combine.

Despite the team not signing a quarterback in free agency, at the NFL Annual League Meeting on Mar. 25, George Paton made it clear the team will still add to the quarterback room.

“We’re still in the quarterback market,” he stated. “We like ‘Stiddy’ (Jarrett Stidham), but we’re going to add. We are not panicked. We won’t play games for a while. We feel like we will add a veteran, and we’ll see about the draft.”

Part 1 of this two part series, which can be found here, identified the traits Payton and Paton are looking for in a quarterback for the Broncos.

Part 2 of this series, identifies the traits the Broncos’ brass believes are overrated and not absolutely necessary when evaluating quarterbacks. Below are those traits.

Overrated traits


Drew Brees is the perfect example of how size isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to quarterback success. And no one knows this more than Sean Payton.

“We’ve had tall and short [successful quarterbacks],” the head coach said at the Combine.

“They’re coming in all shapes and sizes, starting with Brees and some of the other quarterbacks that have been drafted and had success,” the general manager added.

Saying this, it doesn’t mean that stature isn’t important or taken into consideration. It’s just not that important.

“Quarterbacks who are not as tall and are not the prototype—generally speaking, it may vary depending on how teams value prototype heights, but 6-2 may be a starting point,” Payton said, giving insight into what his ideal size is for a signal caller. “As a coordinator, I had Kerry Collins, who was 6-5, Quincy Carter, who was built differently, [Tony] Romo, [Drew] Bledsoe, [Vinnie] Testaverde and then Drew [Brees] for a long time. There was an evolution with Drew.”

This, more than any other trait, is the easiest to identify and evaluate.

“We shouldn’t miss on stature because we get to feel it and look at it and measure it,” Payton said at the Combine.

Arm strength

The throws that get the most national attention from a Pro Day or from a quarterback throwing at the NFL Combine are the deep shots.

Sean Payton also believes getting caught up in those long throws is a huge mistake.

“Oftentimes, I see similar mistakes made relative to how that position is evaluated. At the combine, for instance, it used to be five and a hitch and you throw the ‘go’ ball. Now it’s, let’s take for four or five and let’s just see how far [we can throw it],” Payton explained on Mar. 25.

“It’s like, ‘Gosh, I’ve seen this story before with JaMarcus Russell.’ I’ve seen it over and over again and we just jump into it,” he continued, pointing to one of the biggest NFL busts as an example in what happens when a team gets caught up in arm strength.

It’s not about how far a quarterback can throw a football on air in March.

“If you really watch our game and the completions in the framework of our game, it’s decision-making, accuracy, footwork and the ability to improvise,” Payton said, directly pointing to what is important, after mentioning what isn’t important when evaluating quarterbacks. “We don’t always get to play in a clean pocket. Those are just some of the things that we’ll look closely at and then kind of make our own decisions on them.”

Having physical tools is part of the picture of evaluating quarterbacks, but far from the entire picture in Payton’s eyes.


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