The Denver Broncos were set to draft Brandon Weeden
When the Denver Broncos take on the Cleveland Browns this week, they’ll get a good look at Brandon Weeden, the quarterback that nearly was their future. This is because the Broncos brain trust, John Elway and head coach, John Fox were set to take Weeden as a developmental quarterback in last year’s NFL draft.
The Broncos’ decision makers, including executive vice president of football operations John Elway and head coach John Fox, were in Stillwater, Okla., to visit with Weeden last March when they sent the plane from there to pick up another quarterback they hoped to sign.
A guy named Peyton Manning.
And Manning was on the plane when it returned to Stillwater to scoop up Elway and crew. The group returned to Denver, and the rest is helicopters-following-SUVs history.
But if Manning had not signed on the dotted line for the Broncos and changed the course of the franchise, Weeden likely would have been the Broncos’ pick as a developmental quarterback.
The Broncos liked everything about Brandon Weeden, but once Peyton decided to join Denver, it made no sense keeping a 28-year-old rookie behind Peyton for the next 4-5 years. So the Broncos decided to take a chance on a younger quarterback who could learn from Manning.
The Broncos liked Weeden’s NFL-ready game. They like his maturity; he was, after a stint in minor league baseball before he arrived at Oklahoma State, 28 years old before the draft. And they liked his ability to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
Elway particularly liked the fact Weeden already understood what it took to be a professional athlete and thought that would serve Weeden well in the inevitable struggles that come on the job.
But when Manning said yes, Weeden no longer fit their profile for a developmental prospect. He turned 29 this season, and for him to wait several years behind Manning didn’t make sense.
So, the Broncos looked at the youngest quarterback on the board after Manning signed because they also liked Brock Osweiler’s size, arm strength and swagger. He was just 21 at the time of the draft.
Even if Manning plays four years with the Broncos, the team will still have a quarterback prospect who is just 25 who has been schooled at the University of Manning for several seasons.