The quarterback battle is underway in Denver. Trevor Siemian is the incumbent and looked decent at times last year, but they’ve also got Paxton Lynch, and he’s a former first-round pick. Lynch supposedly was coming on in the final workouts before training camp.
Lynch has the superior physical ability – a rocket launcher arm – but he’s got to show he can do it on the field. Zach Mettenberger and Bryce Petty, after all, have unusually strong arms but haven’t been able to get their careers going. Both have top-10 arm talent, but neither looks likely to be a top-40 quarterback anytime soon.
But Siemian has size and arm-strength limitations, putting a cap on how high he’ll ever go. The goal isn’t to finish 8-8 – they’re trying to win Super Bowls.
With the Broncos having a first-round pick invested in Lynch, they’ll want to see how far he can take them. They’ll need to know by the end of the season whether Lynch can realistically be counted on to be their quarterback in 2018. So if it’s close between Siemian and Lynch, I think they’ll want to get the youngster on the field.
And history tells us that when a quarterback is selected in the first round, he plays. In the 10 drafts prior to 2016, 26 quarterbacks were chosen with first-round picks. All but one of those guys (troubled Johnny Manziel) started at least 10 games in their first two years.
Lynch started only twice last year, but I expect he’ll start at least half of this season. It will be determined in part by injuries and performance, but there’s a good chance he’ll start 11-plus games, I’m figuring.
|FIRST-ROUND QUARTERBACKS (first two years)|
|2008||Joe Flacco, Balt.||32||205.8||7.4||1.16||15.8|
|2011||Cam Newton, Car.||32||247.5||45.2||1.94||26.1|
|2012||Ryan Tannehill, Mia.||32||225.2||14.0||1.22||17.9|
|2012||Andrew Luck, Ind.||32||256.1||19.8||1.72||22.5|
|2015||Jameis Winston, T.B.||32||254.1||11.7||1.78||21.7|
|2009||Mark Sanchez, NYJ||31||185.0||6.8||1.13||15.0|
|2008||Matt Ryan, Atl.||30||211.9||5.1||1.33||16.6|
|2014||Blake Bortles, Jac.||29||245.3||24.1||1.59||21.3|
|2012||Robert Griffin III, Wash.||28||228.7||46.6||1.54||22.9|
|2014||Teddy Bridgewater, Minn.||28||214.3||13.4||1.14||17.1|
|2006||Vince Young, Tenn.||28||164.7||33.0||1.07||16.6|
|2015||Marcus Mariota, Tenn.||27||231.3||22.3||1.85||21.8|
|2010||Sam Bradford, St.L.||26||218.3||3.4||.96||15.2|
|2011||Christian Ponder, Minn.||26||180.3||17.8||1.27||16.1|
|2009||Josh Freeman, T.B.||25||211.6||20.8||1.40||18.5|
|2011||Blaine Gabbert, Jac.||24||159.3||6.4||.88||12.3|
|2006||Jay Cutler, Den.||21||214.2||10.6||1.43||17.6|
|2012||Brandon Weeden, Clev.||20||245.4||7.7||1.10||17.4|
|2006||Matt Leinart, Ariz.||16||196.3||6.1||.94||14.4|
|2007||JaMarcus Russell, Oak.||16||165.4||7.9||.94||12.9|
|2016||Carson Wentz, Phil.||16||236.4||9.4||1.13||17.8|
|2010||Tim Tebow, Den.||14||164.4||58.7||1.64||22.1|
|2013||EJ Manuel, Buff.||14||200.7||17.0||1.36||17.9|
|2009||Matthew Stafford, Det.||13||215.5||9.2||1.69||19.2|
|2008||Brady Quinn, Clev.||12||154.0||9.9||.92||12.5|
|2011||Jake Locker, Tenn.||11||197.8||26.5||1.00||16.9|
|2014||Johnny Manziel, Clev.||8||173.9||25.6||.75||14.3|
|2016||Jared Goff, L.A.||7||155.6||2.3||.86||11.7|
|2016||Paxton Lynch, Den.||2||163.5||14.5||.50||11.6|
(On this chart, by the way, you're seeing the per-game numbers for each player in his first two seasons, with starts, passing average, rushing average, total touchdowns, and fantasy points -- standard scoring.)