The Denver Broncos pulled off a masterstroke in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Sitting at the last pick in the first round, the Broncos knew they would have to move up if Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch fell within their range. As teams like the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets continued to pass over Lynch it appeared he would be within striking distance for the Broncos.
General manager John Elway was able to send the team’s first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks to move up to the 26th-overall pick.
With the trade done, it was no surprise the Broncos selected Lynch at that spot. The team won Super Bowl 50, but last year’s starting quarterback Peyton Manning decided to call it a career. Last year’s backup (and seven-game starter) Brock Osweiler then chose to sign with the Houston Texans in free agency.
The Broncos were backed into a corner at the position, but Elway went back to doing what he does best—making big plays under pressure.
Instead of panicking and making wild transactions just to fill the need, Elway stayed patient in his pursuit of a quarterback. When the time was right, Elway had the team strike and made a move in the draft that had Broncos fans pumping their fists with anticipation.
Elway thinks his young quarterback can be the kind of passer known as a franchise quarterback. Let’s browse through some of the key comments Elway made about Lynch after the draft.
Kubiak Support System
Elway’s long-time friend, Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, has a distinct offense that we didn’t get to see last year with Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler running the show.
The Broncos have proved to be one of the best drafting teams in the NFL under the guidance of Elway. One of the reasons why the team has had such success during the selection process is that Elway wants input from his trusted colleagues around him. He’ll take the time to listen to road scouts, the medical staff, strength coaches and the positional coaches when it comes to finding the right talent for the Broncos.
He certainly gives a lot of weight to Kubiak's opinion when it comes to the construct of the team. Elway and Kubiak have made their goal to win now and win from now on with the Broncos.
Kubiak is over the moon about the pick of Lynch.
“I tell you honestly for me I am just excited for the kid. I’m just very happy for him, I think this kid, John and I talked about him last night, we love his energy, he has a passion for the game, he is young coming out and I think this growth is going to take place quickly and I can’t wait to get started next week.”
The head coach revealed that Lynch will compete for the starting job in training camp later this year.
“Yeah, I mean they’re all going to compete. Everybody competes, and I’m expecting him to come in here and make up some ground really quick. But I think it’s a great group to go to work with. I know [quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Greg Knapp] and [offensive coordinator Rick Dennison] are very excited about him, so we’ve got to make up as much ground as we can.”
Done Flirting with QBs
This offseason, the Broncos have been linked to several different quarterbacks. Everyone from Brian Hoyer to Sam Bradford to Josh McCown had been linked to the team with their need at quarterback. There seemed to be plenty of traction with a potential trade for San Francisco 49ers veteran Colin Kaepernick. After the Lynch pick, any move for Kaepernick was eliminated.
John Elway told 9news this ends Broncos pursuit of Colin Kaepernick #9news— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) April 29, 2016
Elway admits it’s all about getting Lynch enough reps this summer.
“We never say never on anything [adding another quarterback]. We are continuing to look, but we aren’t going to do anything right now. We talked about it today, the key thing is to make sure everybody is going to get a lot of reps.”
Elway clarified, “We don’t want to be in a situation where everyone isn’t getting the reps that they need. That’s not to say we aren’t going to do anything, we just aren’t going to do anything at this point in time.“
The Long-Term Solution
NFL teams know this is not a quarterback-needy league, but a quarterback-desperate one. If you don’t have a good starter, then most of your time and energy will go into finding the right quarterback. Teams shouldn’t look for an answer at the position, as any ol' quarterback can be considered the answer. Instead, the best teams find a solution at quarterback—and that’s something the Broncos have likely done with the addition of Lynch.
Elway believes the young passer can shine with the team for a long time. “We’re really excited that he can come in, compete for the job and is going to be here and have a great career with the Denver Broncos for a long, long time.”
With Elway in place as the executive leader, the Broncos have shown plenty of patience as an organization. With Kubiak in place as head coach—and especially after winning a championship—he knows he has the time to build things the right way.
There is urgency for this team to win another championship, even with the memory of Super Bowl 50 fresh in everyone’s mind. With that urgency also comes comfort that the scouts, coaches and players know how to get it done at the highest level. While other teams may not work well under duress, the Broncos have taken on Elway's personality and thrive in pressure situations.
In only five years as an executive, Elway has led this team to a championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see another Lombardi Trophy out at Dove Valley within the next five years—especially if Lynch can be the long-term solution the team believes he can be.
Welcome to the Family
The Broncos have a long and loving relationship with their fanbase. “Broncos Country” is known as one of the best fanbases in the league, and there are passionate Broncos fans all across this great nation.
Lynch understands the connection with his teammates, the organization and the fans.
“Now I have a team, I have a family to be a part of. I’m ready to get to work.” Lynch explained, “It feels great. Like I said, it’s a big family when it comes to the coaches and players and fans as well.”
The Memphis quarterback has a new home in the Mile High City.
“When I walked in, I felt good. I felt like I was wanted here. Like I said, I’m excited to spend a lot of time here and be around this coaching staff and all these players.”
Broncos fans can’t wait to give him a Mile High welcome when training camp begins later this year.
All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided by the Broncos' media department unless otherwise noted.