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Evaluating Recent Broncos Quarterback Busts

The Broncos franchise has featured two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, John Elway and Peyton Manning. Those are always the first names that come to mind when thinking about Broncos quarterbacks and rightfully so. There were so many highpoints with those two at the helm, but without them it’s a different story. Most other quarterbacks in the Broncos 60-year history peaked at decent and struggled to establish themselves. Many of those quarterback trials revolve around poor drafting. Elway and Manning were both drafted by the Colts, even though Elway was traded to the Broncos before his rookie year it still doesn’t count as a Broncos’ draft pick. So what starting quarterbacks have the Broncos selected and why were they not the answer?

First Rounders

Tim Tebow

The most recognizable quarterback the Broncos have drafted is without a doubt Tim Tebow, not for what he did on the Broncos but what he did everywhere else. Tebow was selected with the 25th pick in the 2010 draft and immediately divided Broncos country into believers and non-believers. His first stint in the NFL had a ton of lows and embarrassing moments and became a stain on the reputation of general manager Brian Xanders. Tebow’s throwing mechanics were terrible and he was never able to make notable improvements. Tebow did provide a good moment in the 2011 AFC Wild Card securing the Broncos’ first playoff win since 2005 but that was not enough. The very next offseason, Tebow was traded to the Jets and bounced around the league until retiring.

He went on to play baseball in the Mets minor league system and became a motivational speaker, and this off-season made a surprising return to the NFL signing a short deal as a tight end for the Jaguars. When your first round quarterback is remembered for everything but being on your team it’s usually not a good sign.

Jay Cutler

Image courtesy of Lisa Blumenfeld

Cutler is one of the most low-effort uninspired quarterbacks to ever play the game, so of course he was drafted by the Broncos. Cutler was one of the top prospects in the 2006 draft and was selected at number eleven overall. Unlike Tebow, the talent was clearly there but the discipline was lacking. Cutler struggled heavily with interceptions not just in Denver but for his entire career. The Cutler era ended really soon as he was traded to the Bears in 2009. He went on to become one of the best quarterbacks in Bears history, which isn’t saying much. He’s another case of a first round quarterback becoming better known as a member of a different team.

Paxton Lynch 

Arguably the worst player on this list, Lynch made almost no impact on the Broncos other than being a waste of a first round pick. Lynch, current a Saskatchewan Riders quarterback, was selected with the 26th pick in the 2016 draft. His lengthy NFL career lasted a whopping two years. He played in five games four of those being starts. He finished with a 1-3 record and faded into obscurity. There’s still a small bit of hope for Lynch as reports from Saskatchewan’s training camp have been very positive, but for now he’s become a nothing other than a bad memory for fans and the front office alike.

Second Rounders

Brock Osweiler

In 2012, Peyton Manning was in his twilight years and the Broncos needed a long-term solution at the quarterback position. Once again the Broncos tried to use the draft to find a quarterback and once again they failed. However, unlike most of the quarterbacks on this list Osweiler’s best career moments happened on the Broncos. In 2015, Osweiler was called on to play a critical role in the playoffs becoming a hero on the way to a Super Bowl. After that Osweiler got a massive payday from the Houston Texans but never amounted to anything.

Drew Lock

Lock’s case for now is interesting. Not classified as a miss but he’s on the path to becoming one. Coming into Denver as a second rounder Lock originally didn’t drum up much hype. He sat behind Joe Flacco most of his first year and was seen as an afterthought until he got to start a handful of games at the end of the year. He played decently but that was enough for Broncos fans to get very excited. However, the very next year he crashed and burned. After only one complete season many fans want him gone. The potential is still there but with the Broncos tendency to trade for quarterbacks who can win now Lock might want to kiss his spot goodbye.


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