The Broncos have two big question marks at QB once the Super Bowl is over. Brock Osweiler will be a free agent and Peyton Manning could retire. With all of the uncertainty Denver will be keeping their eyes on the quarterback prospects in the 2016 draft.
Manning will be 40 years old in March and has been battling in injuries the past few years. If Denver wins the Super Bowl he could walk away on top like John Elway did. Even if they lose he could still retire and move into upper management with Denver or another NFL team. Manning is a smart guy and probably has a plan in place if he decides to call it quits this year.
If Denver wanted to put the franchise tag on Osweiler he would cost the team approximately $19.6 million. The Broncos drafted him in the second round in 2012 and he stepped up when Manning went down earlier this season and played well. Other teams in the market like the Texans or Rams may back the truck up to his back door and make him a deal that he can’t refuse. Should Osweiler re-sign with Denver and Manning retires Denver will still need another QB going into the 2016 season.
The Broncos will pick either 30th or 31st in the 2016 NFL Draft pending the outcome of the Super Bowl. They won’t be able to get Jared Goff, Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch who will likely go earlier in the first round but if Denver wants to snag a QB there will be some intriguing prospects that could flourish in the Mile High City.
Connor Cook might still be there at the end of the first round. The Michigan State quarterback declined and invitation to the Senior Bowl and it has hurt his draft stock. Right now all of the buzz is on Wentz and Goff so Cook has slid down the mock drafts for now. He has good height at 6’4 and played in a pro-style offense which many scouts love. Cook played hurt in the latter half of last season but looked terrible against Alabama’s defense in the College Football Playoffs. If Cook got to come in and learn behind Manning and had a decent offensive line he could do well in 2017 when he finally would take over.
Dak Prescott could be a guy Denver takes a shot on in the third or fourth round. Prescott is similar to Tebow and took it upon himself to put Mississippi State on his back last year. But some have compared him to Donovan McNabb because he can air it out but he is also a bruiser who can take on a linebacker and get some tough extra yards when need be. Prescott threw for 9,376 career yards, 70 touchdowns in three years as a starter for the Bulldogs. Unlike Connor Cook Prescott lit up Alabama for 300 yards passing in November. The Tide won the game but Prescott had a respectable showing. In Starkville he ran a pro-style offense so he wouldn’t be a fish out of water. If Denver winds up with Manning and Osweiler next year Prescott is a player I would take a flier on late and groom him for the future.
One of the most underrated prospects in the draft is Brandon Doughty from Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers QB blistered defenses for 5055 yards and 48 touchdowns last season. He did play against some bad defenses in Conference USA but held his own putting up 325 yards passing on LSU in October. Doughty is similar to Peyton Manning and is a student of the game. He has the size and arm to be on an NFL roster but having played at a small school is going to hurt his draft stock. Like Dak Prescott, Doughty is a guy Denver could grab late and let him sit and learn for a year. He could wind up being a steal in a few years.
There are other guys who could be options late like Cody Kessler and Jake Coker. Unlike other years there are a lot of QB prospects so Denver won’t have to reach for one. They can snag one late and groom him. But if Manning and Osweiler leave Denver their hands could be tied and they may have to reach for Connor Cook or Christian Hackenburg.