ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The planning for eventual life without Peyton Manning has revolved around Brock Osweiler since he was the Broncos' second-round pick in 2012. But the passage of time and a new coaching staff changes the dynamic a bit.
Manning still has one year left on his contract; if he flourishes in 2015, it's not out of the question he could be back under center in 2016 -- by which time Osweiler's contract would have expired. That could potentially lead to a decision to move on -- which would be understandable on his part, since after three seasons and counting, Osweiler wants a chance.
Is it tough on him? Yes and no, he said at the end of the regular season.
"Yes, because I love to compete and I'm very confident in my abilities, and I see other guys in my draft class playing very well, and I know I can do that same thing, so I want to go out there and compete and do that."
Of the nine quarterbacks taken in the first six rounds of the 2012 draft, Osweiler is the only one still awaiting his first NFL start. Five of the eight others have already made at least one postseason start apiece.
"At the same time, I realize that I'm in a different situation," Osweiler said. "And I realize the situation that I'm in. That's where the 'no' part comes in, because the things that I've been able to learn while sitting behind [Manning] and being a No. 2 rather than a No. 1 is something that those guys haven't learned, or will never learn.
"I think that I'm in the ultimate situation. I'm very thankful for it. And we'll just see where the future goes."
And if that future involves the Broncos picking another quarterback in the 2015 draft, here's a few names that could be on their radar:
SEAN MANNIONSchool: Oregon StateHeight: 6-foot-6Weight: 229Notes: A sizzling Pro Day could help his prospects, but at the Senior Bowl, he struggled, often taking way too long to get set in the pocket before throwing. When he gets the ball away, he's accurate -- a 65.3 percent passer the last three seasons. Turnovers have also been a problem; at Oregon State he had a career interception rate of one every 34.04 passes and also had 29 fumbles, for a turnover rate of one every 23.75 touches -- although that improved to one every 36.94 touches last year.
ANTHONY BOONESchool: DukeHeight: 6 feetWeight: 231Notes: If the evaluation is solely on measurables, he doesn't stack up: only one quarterback at the Combine was shorter (Alabama's Blake Sims), he doesn't have much speed (5.03 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and he's not athletic as far as pro prospects go. But his strengths are based around his intelligence, his ability to master a complex offense, and the timing he develops with receivers. Becoming a consistent starter might be beyond his reach, but he has the tools to be a long-term backup who can provide a steadying hand in the meeting room and for a few weeks on the field when pressed into service.
Notes:It's tough to evaluate Carden based solely on his college game tape, because ECU runs a version of the "Air Raid" offense that head coach Ruffin McNeill brought with him from Texas Tech. It's the offense that former Broncos practice squad quarterback -- and current Texas Tech head coach -- Kliff Kingsbury ran in the early 2000s. Carden's arm strength is a question, and much of his success came from having two potential draft picks at his disposal: Justin Hardy (a potential Day 2 pick) and Cam Worthy.
Notes:A product of Toronto suburb Mississauga, Ontario, Bridge said he got his nickname "Air Canada" from fans at Alcorn State, who compared him to the school's top football alumnus, the late QB Steve McNair. The former attendee of the Manning Passing Academy transferred from Alcorn to South Alabama in 2012 and didn't become the starter until his senior season. Bridge's overall athleticism and prodigious arm strength will get him a pro opportunity, but he's a project, and needs time to improve his accuracy; he completed just 52.1 percent of his passes last year. He needs two to three years of time to develop, but for a team with patience, he's worth a shot, because he has all the raw tools.
Notes:This Conference USA standout did not receive an invitation to the Combine, and it was a bit of a surprise given the numbers he racked up in guiding Old Dominion through its transition to FBS. He has small hands and doesn't have the strongest arm, but he's accurate, reads defenses well, is patient enough to let his receivers get open and has a good feel for the pass rush, often delivering the ball just before a defender arrived.
Notes:His height, weight and the system in which he posted massive numbers but did not run plays from under center raise questions about whether Cato can be an NFL quarterback. A 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day that was a modest 4.65 seconds, according to what he told the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, did not help his chances of making a position shift, which, at his size, would see him in a third-down role. Marshall listed Cato at 176 pounds -- 26 more than he weight when he arrived in 2012 -- but five pounds more than he weighed at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January.
OTHERS AT NOTE IN THE DAY 3 RANGE: Bryan Bennett, Southeast Louisiana; Cody Fajardo, Nevada; Connor Halliday, Washington State; Jerry Lovelocke, Prairie View A&M; Nick Marshall, Auburn; Blake Sims, Duke.