ENGLEWOOD – The Trevor Siemian-Paxton Lynch quarterback battle divides and enthralls the residents of Colorado.
Interesting thing, though. When Siemian talks about the battle, he appears in danger of falling asleep. He is, by all appearance, unworried by the immense challenge that is Lynch.
“I don’t,” he said, “have much to lose.”
Why the nonchalance?
NFL history is one good reason. When it comes to quarterback prospects, bet on the underdog. In other words, Siemian’s reign as Bronco starter could stretch through the entire 2017 season.
He was asked to describe the differences between himself and Lynch. There are many differences to consider.
Siemian was a seventh-round pick, and a surprise choice even at that late segment of the draft. He was not, and is not, burdened by great expectation. Lynch was a first-round selection. He’s expected to lead the franchise for a decade, or more.
Siemian’s arm strength is, by NFL standards, average. Lynch’s arm resembles as cannon.
Lynch, if he lifted weights more diligently, might find a way to compete as an NFL linebacker, and if you saw him at the mall, you would instantly recognize him as a professional athlete. The slender Siemian could only play quarterback, and if you saw him at the grocery store, you might think he worked there.
“I don’t know,” Siemian said in his Florida monotone as he considered the many differences.
He finally found his answer.
“Paxton’s a little taller than me.”
That’s true. Siemian is 6-foot-3, and Lynch is 6-7. The assembled media crowd laughed at Siemian’s analysis, but the quarterback who made the highly unlikely vault to starter in 2016 never smiled.
He’s a serious type, and he has a serious chance to again surprise the doubters. You might think the odds are against Siemian.
Siemian reminds me of Kyle Orton, who started for the Broncos from 2009-11. Orton was a fourth-round pick for the Bears in 2005, an especially weak draft for quarterbacks. Only two QBs (Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers) were selected in the first two rounds.
Orton never drew comparisons to any of the QB greats of NFL history. He was seldom spectacular, but he was steady. (You could also describe him as boring.)
He started 82 games, including 33 for the Broncos, from 2005-14 and won 42 starts. He earned a nice stack of cash before departing the game, by his own choice.
JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn and Jake Locker were all highly touted first-round picks. They were all, like Lynch, expected to lead franchises.
The quartet combined for 86 starts, four more than Orton, and stumbled to a mere 28 wins, or 14 less than Orton. They were sensational college quarterbacks. They were blessed with enormous talent. Their potential seemed boundless.
They were gutted in the savage realm of the NFL.
Little in life and nothing in sport is less certain than the future of a young NFL quarterback. Finding a way to consistently move the ball against NFL defenses is the most challenging task in any sport, and a few mistakes can crush the confidence required to make instant decisions in the pocket. There’s a junkpile, and it’s a big one, of first-round QB prospects who failed.
Siemian, in so many ways, owns the advantage in his struggle with Lynch. Two years ago, virtually no one thought he ever would be in the fight for a starting job. He’s already surpassed expectations.
“You can’t play quarterback with any fear,” Siemian said. “It would be a good way to embarrass yourself.”
He wants to keep his place as ruler of the Bronco attack. The underdog has no place in his heart for dread.