By WOODY PAIGE
Is John Elway the Horse Whisperer or the Quarterback Collector?
In six years at the wheel Duke has picked five quarterbacks, and just added another rookie QB as an undrafted free agent.
During the era of Red Miller (just selected, appropriately, to the Broncos Ring of Fame – only 27 years after I, as a member of the committee then, nominated him), the team drafted just one quarterback (Rick Leach, who chose baseball instead).
In his 12 seasons, Dan Reeves only drafted four quarterbacks – Mark Hermann, Gary Kubiak, Buddy Funck and Tommy Maddox. Hermann (who started one game) was included in the trade for Elway; Kubiak became Elway’s backup (and started five games; Maddox was supposed to be Elway’s successor and started four games when Elway was injured, (but helped get Reeves fired.) Funck was in a funk after not sticking on the roster.
The Broncos didn’t draft a quarterback in Wade Phillips’ two-year stint.
During Mike Shanahan’s 14-season reign, he drafted five quarterbacks — Jeff Lewis, Brian Griese, Jarious Jackson, Matt Mauck and Jay Cutler (who helped get Shanahan fired).
Josh McDaniels lasted less than two seasons, but drafted Tom Brandstater and – oh, yes – Tim Tebow.
Overall, the Broncos have drafted 46 quarterbacks.
Chad Kelly is the latest, and the most contentious, curious choice since – oh, yes – Tebow.
After the American Football League was created in 1959, two drafts were held – the first in November and another in December. Of the 54 players (that’s right) the Broncos picked, five were quarterbacks. None made the team. NFL/CFL veteran Frank Tripucka, hired as an assistant coach, became the starting quarterback.
In ’61 the Broncos drafted one quarterback – Phil Nugent. He did make the team as a safety (for one season). Another quarterback the Broncos selected in 1975, Steve Foley, made the team as a cornerback (and still holds the Broncos’ career interception record).
The first QB drafted by the Broncos who started a game at quarterback was Mickey Slaughter (seventh round, 1963).
Which four quarterbacks drafted by the Broncos started the most regular-season and playoff games? You’ll be surprised.
Here’s a clue: Three now are network football analysts.
Griese (ESPN college football) started 51 games over five seasons with the Broncos. The runnerup is Cutler, who is retired, sort of, and was hired the past week by FOX). He started 37 games in three season and won 17. Neither played in the postseason with Denver.
Third was Slaughter with 19 starts over four seasons. He won two and tied two.
Unbelievably, four on the list is – oh, yes – Tebow, who started 14 regular-season games and two in the playoffs. You may remember one. He played only two seasons with the Broncos. Tebow is a SEC Network analyst and, uh, a minor-league baseball player.
Fifth on the list is, get this, Trevor Siemian with 14 starts (8-6) last season.
Sixth is somewhat shocking, too. Brock Osweiler, the first quarterback chosen by Elway (second round, 2012) started seven games in 2015 and won five. And No. 6 is Gary Kubiak, with five starts (3-2). The rest of the top 10: Maddox (4), Alan Pastrana (3) and, get this, Paxton Lynch with two starts.
You may not believe what you read. Of the previous 45 quarterbacks the Broncos drafted, just 14 ever started games. The others were Hermann (1), Jackson (1), Craig Penrose (1) and John Hufnagel (1).
While doing the research, I thought the stat was incredulous.
Consider this: New Broncos’ quarterback coach Bill Musgrave, who spent two seasons with the Broncos as Elway’s backup after coming from the 49ers, had one start.
What this information proves is the Broncos have fared badly with most all of their drafted quarterbacks. Not one has ever won a Super Bowl. Kubiak played in Super Bowls (as a late sub when they were being drubbed).
Only One, A Solitary Soul, has started postseason games for the Broncos – and won one of two.
Oh, yes, Tebow – the last quarterback drafted B.J. (Before Elway).
With Siemian, Lynch, Kelly and free agent Kyle Solter (from Northern Colorado) – Fab Four? — Elway has assembled a a quartet of quarterbacks who are 25, 23, 23, 23. It will be the youngest group since 1984 when the Broncos had Elway (24), Kubiak (23) and Scott Stankavage (22).
Elway does love quarterbacks.
But can any of these ever get the Broncos’ Whisperer back to the Super Bowl?