When ASU junior quarterback Brock Osweiler first declared for the NFL Draft, my first reaction was of a skeptical nature, to say the least.
Why would a player with 15 career starts — coming off five straight losses to end the season — want to forgo his final year of eligibility to get selected in the middle rounds to be a backup, when he could come back to school and improve his stock?
Despite the fact that Osweiler would be gearing up for his senior season if former offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone were somehow retained after the hiring of Todd Graham, a certain recent NFL transaction has me rethinking the quarterback’s decision to depart.
Initially, my main concern was for the situation he would land in.
Get drafted too high, and you’re expected to start right away. Get drafted too low, and you run the risk of finding a niche as a career backup.
I’m as big of an Osweiler supporter as there is. The way he handled himself through the firestorm that was the final two months of the 2011 season showed maturity well beyond a typical 21-year-old college student, but those who think he is ready to start an NFL game this fall are plain wrong.
His delivery is slow by pro standards. He ran an offense in college in which he never took a snap under center, even when on the goal line, despite my internal pleas.
That makes Osweiler more of a long-term project. It’s completely fine if he would rather learn in the NFL than in Tempe, but it’s all about where those learning seasons take place.
That leads me to my aforementioned change of heart. With the signing of Peyton Manning in Denver, I think the former Sun Devil needs to become a Bronco.
It’s the perfect scenario for Osweiler to find himself in for the beginning of his pro career.
Manning turned 36 years old on Friday and, if he stays healthy, has at most three to five years of play left in him.
The Broncos signed free agent Caleb Hanie to a two-year deal to back up their prized offseason acquisition, but the team will likely draft a quarterback to fill the No. 3 spot.
If Osweiler is lucky enough to be that selection, he won’t have to deal with any of the pressure that comes with most rookie quarterbacks. Instead, he’ll sit back, learn and be groomed for the future.
And when the time comes for Manning to hang it up, Osweiler will be ready for the spotlight.
Consider how much he developed during his sophomore season in Tempe on the sidelines when Steven Threet beat him out for the ASU starting job. Now imagine the potential growth waiting behind arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?
Denver has the No. 25 pick in the second round. Be on the lookout for a familiar face.
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