ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --The present and the future at quarterback seems more assured than any other position on the roster, with the reigning league MVP atop the depth chart and selections from each of the last two drafts rounding out the trio.
This doesn't mean the Broncos won't seek a quarterback at some point when the draft and the post-draft undrafted free-agent feeding frenzy arrives. But with Peyton Manning returning for a third season under center, Brock Osweiler two years into his development and 2013 seventh-round pick Zac Dysert back, whoever that young quarterback is would have a difficult task in trying to crack the 53-man roster -- or to even get practice repetitions.
Nevertheless, the premium placed on the quarterback position dictates that the Broncos will investigate the quarterbacks expected to be available in the late rounds and the undrafted pool. Even if Osweiler and/or Dysert never get the chance to start in Denver, their value can only increase the longer they linger and the more they play in the preseason.
But of the two, only Osweiler has regular-season experience. He played the entire second half of the regular-season finale against Oakland last Dec. 29.
"I was pleased to see Brock's performances in the preseason get better in each game, and then he played a pretty good second half against Oakland in this last regular season game, and I feel like he's making progress," Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp said during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII.
Osweiler's situation is particularly intriguing because of his contract. If Manning remains upright and healthy and opts to return for the 2015 season, then it would be possible for Osweiler to play out his entire rookie contract without a regular-season start. Dysert's contract expires a year later, after the 2016 season.
But the Broncos remain committed to Osweiler as their quarterback of the future -- whenever that future comes.
"He has definitely improved," Head Coach John Fox said at a season-ending press conference on Feb. 4. "He's way further ahead this year than he was a year ago. I think he's got a comfort level. Of course, the time he spends with Peyton, I think, is a great benefit. But he's smart, he's got all the athletic tools and now it's just a matter of getting opportunities to play the game."
The hope is that a protracted development and incubation in this offense will help ease some of the rough spots in an eventual transition -- and make him and Dysert ready to handle the cerebral rigors of running an intricate offense when the time comes for one or the other.
"These two young guys are in a think tank on a daily basis -- that might be the best one in the profession," Knapp said during Super Bowl week. "There's a lot of open discussion with the coaches that are in the room, along with the other QBs, that gives them a thought process that another quarterback wouldn't get as much, and this think tank, they're applying at a young age to learn and hopefully come through."
The question now involves whether the Broncos add another brain to the think tank in May.