WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

April 29, 2018 at 10:44 pm.

–A quarterback competition is coming — but not one that will define the Broncos’ offseason, unlike the last two years.

With Case Keenum the clear starter after the Broncos opted to not take a quarterback in the draft, 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch and 2017 seventh-round pick Chad Kelly — last year’s Mr. Irrelevant — will battle to be the No. 2 passer behind Keenum.

The Broncos considered Sam Darnold at the top of the draft, and had he fallen to the fifth pick, the USC passer could well have been the Broncos’ pick, changing the dynamic of the team and the draft. Denver also considered other quarterbacks throughout the draft.

“We were looking at the board and there were a couple of quarterbacks over there,” general manager John Elway said. “I thought that we had other players that we wanted in the direction that we wanted to go.”

Kelly was a standout at Mississippi, but nearly went undrafted last year because of ACL and wrist injuries and questions about his character that resulted from off-field incidents throughout his college career. He spent the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform list while he recovered from his injuries, but has returned to Broncos headquarters in much better shape than he was last year.

“We are not going to bring another (quarterback) in for OTAs,” Elway said.

The decision not to draft a quarterback helps Lynch’s cause, even though his first two seasons have been a struggle, defined by inconsistent play and mental lapses and a struggle to learn the playbook.

“With Paxton, we still think he is young. We are not kicking him to the curb. He can still develop,” Elway sad. “When we drafted him two years ago, as I said, we knew it was going to take some time.”

–Bradley Chubb will be a strong-side linebacker in the Broncos’ 3-4 defense, but his size and ability give him a chance to rotate inside and be moved around on sub-package downs even if he can’t quite earn the starting role from Shane Ray or Shaquil Barrett by Week 1.

“I’m going to be a sponge when I get here and just soak up everything that they have because all of them do it at a high level,” he said.

But no matter what his role, Chubb should make Von Miller’s life better. Chubb’s addition was greeted ecstatically by Miller, who whooped and hollered at the pick on a social-media video.

“I saw the video. Someone showed me during the press conference (Thursday),” Chubb said. “It was pretty cool to see it actually happen like that. I am looking forward to working with him — not only him, but Shaq and Shane as well. There are different things we all can do. You can’t have enough pass rushers. So it is about getting us all on the field and making plays.”

Miller has been at his best when he had a complementary edge rusher on the other side to deflect attention from him — whether it was Elvis Dumervil in 2011 and 2012 or DeMarcus Ware from 2014-16.

–There can be little doubt that last year’s two drafted wide receivers, Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie, are on notice.

Denver’s decision to take two wide receivers in the first four rounds — SMU’s Courtland Sutton (Round 2) and Penn State’s DaeSean Hamilton (Round 4) — puts the squeeze on Henderson and McKenzie, both of whom struggled last year. Henderson flashed early in OTAs, but struggled with route-running and learning the playbook, and was shelved after injuring his thumb in the preseason opener. He was then arrested for marijuana possession in Louisiana in January.

McKenzie struggled with fumbling issues, got into a fight at practice on Thanksgiving and saw limited offensive work, which included a mind-numbing gaffe against Washington in which he stayed in-bounds in the final seconds of the first half, allowing the clock to run out and costing the Broncos a shot at a field goal.

With third-year veteran Jordan Taylor currently tabbed as the No. 1 punt returner in front of McKenzie, he was already on the bubble. Taylor is recovering from two hip surgeries but is expected back for training camp.

Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders lead the group, and Taylor could be in the mix. Sutton and Hamilton are locks to make the 53-man roster, if healthy, and could be a future 1-2 punch at the position.

“They’re big guys that have played all three positions,” Broncos HEAD coach Vance Joseph said. “We didn’t narrow these guys down just being a slot guy. We have receivers that fit a certain skillset that we wanted. We wanted big, fast guys with great ball skills, and (Hamilton) fits in that profile.”

The new receivers could leave Henderson, McKenzie or both out if they don’t step up their game this summer.

 

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