It’s a question Broncos boss John Elway is still getting a year later: Why, when you already had Peyton Manning, did you spend a 2012 second-round draft pick on quarterback Brock Osweiler?
Elway’s answer: Because Osweiler is a future starter in Denver, and you don’t pass on a chance to draft a guy like that.
“I know I said after we signed Peyton that we didn’t have a plan B, but there was a plan B in Brock,” Elway told the Denver Post. “No. 1, we didn’t have a backup and No. 2, it wasn’t exactly a sure thing with Peyton coming back. My thought was, we wanted a guy for the future, No. 1. No. 2, if it didn’t work out with Peyton, we could load up with a guy that we liked and who could be the guy for the next 10, 12 years. And No. 3, if Peyton did come back and play like he did, then Brock could get a great education of how things were supposed to be done as a quarterback, what you had to go through, to see one of the best of all time do it. To me it was a perfect scenario. With the importance of that position, you never waste one. Plus, we liked him a lot. And having been with him a year, we like him even more.”
If Osweiler eventually becomes Manning’s successor and is a Pro Bowler in his own right, then Elway made a great choice. But that’s a big “if.” And the reality is that the Broncos were thisclose to winning a playoff game against the Ravens, the team that eventually won the Super Bowl, which makes it easy for Broncos fans to wonder if they could have gotten one more solid starter in the second round of the draft, and if one more solid starter might have put them over the top.
Consider, for instance, that the player drafted immediately after Osweiler, Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David, had an outstanding rookie season and was NFC Rookie of the Month in November. Or that the player drafted three spots after Osweiler, Baltimore guard Kelechi Osemele, ended up starting every game for the Ravens. Or that the player drafted five spots after Osweiler, Green Bay cornerback Casey Hayward, had a good rookie season for the Packers, with six interceptions. Maybe if the Broncos’ second-round pick had been a player like that — not a player who spent the playoff loss to the Ravens on the sideline with a clipboard in his hands — Denver would have won the Super Bowl.
It’s impossible to know. But Elway isn’t going to second-guess himself now.