With only 19 shopping days left before the Broncos begin training camp, who is the best quarterback currently in Denver?
Cook was the MVP in the Big Ten championship game twice, won the Rose Bowl as a starter and played in the College Football playoffs.
The Broncos brought in Cook for a pre-draft meeting last year, and some balloons believed John Elway would select him in the first round. The Broncos traded up to pick Paxton Lynch, and Cook lasted until the fourth round, when he was chosen by the Raiders.
He didn't play until New Year's Day. Without quarterback Derek Carr, who had broken his fibula, the Raiders started backup Matt McGoin at Mile High stadium against the Broncos in the final regular-season game. However, McGoin was forced to depart early with a shoulder injury, and Cook made his NFL debut. The Broncos won 24-6.
But unlike Trevor Siemian, who was the winning quarterback on Jan. 1, and Lynch, who was not inserted at any point by Gary Kubiak in his Broncos farewell, Cook actually started a playoff game - vs. the Texans and ex-Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler. Cook threw three interceptions, and Brock and Houston prevailed.
When worlds collide ...
It was rather bizarre to talk to Cook briefly Thursday in Denver.
No, you didn't miss BREAKING NEWS over the holidays. Cook hasn't been dealt to the Broncos for Siemian, Lynch, Chad Kelly or Kyle Sloter.
He's in town working out with former Spartans teammate Bennie Fowler, a two-year Broncos veteran trying to earn a wide receiver spot again.
"You might have been with the Broncos," I said to Cook. "That really would have been interesting," he replied.
End of conversation.
Why is Cook the best current NFL quarterback in Denver? Because Siemian, Lynch, Chad Kelly and Kyle Sloter are not in Denver. Sloter, the undrafted free agent from Northern Colorado who likely will end up on the Broncos' practice squad, is getting ready in Greeley.
Kelly has been busy celebrating Mr. Irrelevant Week in southern California. The last pick of the draft received the "Lowman (not Heisman) Trophy" at a banquet, visited Disneyland and hung out with a surf board on the beach. The cast has been removed from his surgically repaired right wrist, and Kelly intends to begin throwing in mid-July before the rookies report on July 23.
The veterans show up on the 26th, and the first public practice session will be held the following morning.
Meanwhile, Siemian recently posted on his Instagram account a video of his golf swing at the prestigious Brandon Dunes Club in Oregon.
He has great potential ... as a golfer.
And Lynch has been making random appearances around the country and tweeting out birthday wishes to Elway. "Thankful every day for the opportunity you've given me," the young quarterback wrote to the old quarterback. A bit of kissing up?
Siemian and Lynch are supposed to gather with other Broncos outside Los Angeles later this week for a "passing camp", two players told me. It's unknown if Kelly and Sloter will join them. The summer retreat is to include QBs, wide receivers, tight ends and running backs - which could be a maximum 29 veterans and rookies, but perhaps half will participate.
Payton Manning hosted an annual rite of passage ... er ... passing for a few receivers and tight ends at Duke when he was the Broncos' quarterback for four years.
Last year Mark Sanchez organized a passing camp in SoCal, but was passed by in training camp. How did that work out? Sanchez was cut. During minicamp Emmanuel Sanders emphasized that the Broncos needed a passing camp, and, apparently, the quarterbacks got the hint and finally decided to stage an "event" that may incorporate a group hug and other activities.
But there will be no coaches, and it won't count in the Trev-Pax Duel standings.
And this is my all-time ranking of the quarterbacks who now live in the Denver area: 1. Elway ; 2. Manning; 3. Babe Parilli (now 87); 4. Jake Plummer; 5. Brian Griese; 6. Don Horn; 7. Bill Musgrave; 8. Lynch; 9. Siemian; 10. Kelly.
One will be the Broncos' quarterback in 65 days.