By Paul Wanecski
As Peyton Manning’s career continues to wind down, all eyes are beyond the present and are focused on the future. The NFL draft is only a few days away. Will the Broncos look to draft the future now, next year, or is the future the former 2nd round selection Brock Osweiler? Talk in Denver suggests that they will look hard at quarterback options in this year’s draft, suggesting that Osweiler may be available.
To sum up Osweiler briefly, the former Arizona State Sun Devil stands 6’8” according to NFL.com, weighs in at 240 pounds and is only 24 years old. He is also entering the final year of his contract. Denver would be wise to know exactly what his value is by listening to trade offers they will surely receive on draft day. He puts the team in a compromising position since they need to judge if he is the future of the franchise based on his 3 previous off seasons and his 30 professional pass attempts. If he is the future, he would most likely command a contract close to what Mark Sanchez recently signed for as a starting block; 3 years with a total value of about $9 million (Sanchez received $5.5 million in guaranteed money which would not be the same for Osweiler, who would be offered much less). Not a bad payday for Osweiler and his career 159 passing yards.
Coming into the NFL, Osweiler appeared to have the types of intangibles that make a quarterback a 2nd round selection. He has a very compact release, showed both velocity and the ability to throw touch passes and has NFL-caliber arm strength. Most executives saw him as a player who would be in need of time to develop, as he was seen as a bit careless taking chances and depending on his natural ability. He has the type of make-up that makes front office staff drool, which is precisely the problem. With entering his contract year, the organization has invested 3 seasons into grooming him and they will look to get that in return. When teams start making offers, it won’t be comparable to the 57th selection with which he was taken in 2012. We highlighted their plight in our “32 teams in 32 days” article here posted 3/5/2015.
A major concern coming out of college was his mechanics, not unusual for a college quarterback. Osweiler, even though he is 6’8” doesn’t play as tall. His throwing motion has gone through a bit of a change. Even though his release is quick, his arm angle and shot-put type motion meant that balls came out of the pocket with a low trajectory and run the risk of being batted down. Taking a look at where his game has come, you can see that, even in these highlights, the velocity is what you would expect and his motion appears to be improving. These throws are both lasers and split coverage pretty well.
The return that Denver should be looking for is at best a 4th round selection. Since he is only controllable this season and would then enter free agency, a low 4th round selection would really be maximum value on the open market. If he does hit free agency, he would be a sought after commodity. He hasn’t proven that he could be an NFL quarterback, but he hasn’t proven yet that he isn’t. One concern that you will hear float around is that the 2014 season was the first in which he was actually expected to have full grasp of the offensive playbook and he struggled with that. Osweiler is a very intelligent player but this is Peyton Manning’s offense. He should be able to, at this point, pick up any system.
So why does he make sense for the Buffalo Bills? If you are looking at taking a developmental QB in the 5th round, why not take one that has all the skills you won’t find that late and simply take a chance. Trading for Osweiler and then signing him to an extension at average starting quarterback money would be more affordable than holding on to Matt Cassel for another season and would certainly not come close to the 5thyear option on EJ Manuel. You stay young at the position and get a player who was in the same room with one of the most cerebral players who ever played quarterback in Manning. The Bills selecting a quarterback in this draft would be a surprise to no one. With that, Osweiler is available if the Bills want him and if all it costs you is your 5thround selection, what harm could it really do?