Posted Sun May 20th by Jon Heath
During the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft on April 27th, Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler received a call from a 303 area code. John Elway was on the other line.
Elway—the Denver Broncos‘ Vice President of Football Operations and father of Jack Elway, one of Osweiler’s closest college friends—was calling to inform Osweiler that Denver was selecting him 57th overall in the draft. Elway asked Osweiler if he would like to backup quarterback Peyton Manning as Denver’s “quarterback of the future”.
To a twenty-one year old junior coming out of college, the suggestion of learning under one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of pro football was easy to accept.
“As an athlete, especially as a quarterback, you always have to get better. What better way to get better than to be around Peyton Manning and John Elway and have such a great coach in Quarterbacks Coach Adam Gase and the other quarterbacks in the room in Caleb Hanie and Adam Weber,” Osweiler rhetorically asked during a press conference last month. ”A lot of quarterbacks might be upset about having to sit behind somebody, whereas I look at it as a tremendous opportunity to learn from one of the best, if not the best, quarterback to ever play the game.”
Rewind three years prior to the elder Elway (John) calling Brock and we see Osweiler jumping the younger Elway (Jack) on the Sun Devils’ depth chart as the third quarterback. Around the time of this happening, Jack quit football due in part to unfair expectations which evaporated his desire to play football.
“(Jack Elway) is just tired of football and wants to do something else with his life,” former ASU coach Dennis Erickson said in 2009. “He made a decision, and we all understand it. He would have played here eventually.”
With the younger Elway still attending ASU but no longer as a football player, Osweiler jumped two QBs (Elway and Chasen Stangel) as a true freshman. Later in the 2009 season, Osweiler would become the first ASU quarterback to start as a true freshman since Jake Plummer did in 1993. Playing in six games (starting in one), Osweiler went 24-of-55 for 249 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions.
The following season, Osweiler again played in six games (with one start) and improved his numbers by completing 62-of-109 passes for 797 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions. Announced the starter going into his junior season at ASU, Osweiler went on to complete 326-of-516 throws for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Osweiler’s performance helped lead the Sun Devils to a Las Vegas MAACO Bowl game appearance earlier this year.
Fast forward to May and Osweiler was working with his new teammates in Denver during the Broncos’ Rookie Mini Camp practice sessions at Dove Valley.
“[The first day of practice] was fun, to be honest. It was a lot of fun,” Osweiler said on May 11th. “When you first get that playbook, you’re seeing all these different formations and pass concepts and runs and protections. To finally get out there on the field and kind of put it all together—I thought we did a pretty good job on offense and I had a lot of fun out there today.”
Before coming to Denver for mini camp, Osweiler was back in Arizona working with teammate Gerell Robinson, who was Osweiler’s favorite target at ASU and one of the first college free agents Denver signed following the draft in April. As Sun Devil teammates, Osweiler and Robinson connected 77 times in 2011 for 1,397 yards and seven touchdowns — torching opposing defenses.
Together again in Denver, the duo of Osweiler and Robinson hope to emulate Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall or Tim Tebow-to-Demaryius Thomas-esque connections, aiming to be stars of the future. In preseason, and especially during practice, Osweiler will benefit from having a familiar target running routes.
“It’s nice, because I know what to expect from [Robinson] and he knows what to expect from me as well. We are running a different offense, but at the same time, I can read his body language. He knows how the ball comes out with me,” noted Osweiler after a rookie practice session earlier in the month.
And while Osweiler and Robinson will have heavy competition for playing time this season, the Broncos have plans for them beyond this season.
“We have high hopes for (Osweiler) in the future, to where once Peyton decides to hang them up, that he’s the guy in waiting that can keep this (going) and we don’t miss a beat,” Elway said in a press conference call on May 15th. ”And (with Osweiler ready to step in), we can continue to compete for world championships, year in and year out.”
On Saturday, Brock Osweiler was signing rookie trading cards and posing for Rookie Premiere photo shoots. Tomorrow, he’ll participate in Denver’s first day of organized team practices. One day, he’ll likely become Denver’s starting quarterback. And if Elway is right, the Broncos will be in good hands.
“It’s a perfect situation, where there’s not the pressure for him to come in and start right away,” Elway said of Osweiler. ”He’s not ready for that. But he’s also going to learn from Peyton and I think it’s a great learning experience for him to where we are set for the future. He’s our guy of the future, we believe Brock Osweiler will be the next guy (under center).”