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Woody Paige: Paxton Lynch will be starter this year, like other top picks

June 6, 2017 Updated: June 6, 2017 at 8:55 pm
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Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch passes during warmups before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Paxton Lynch must start. Period.

Start with this:

Of the 44 college quarterbacks drafted in the top 36 from 2003-2016, 39 became full-time starters in their first or second seasons.

Four who didn't were Philip Rivers, who sat behind Drew Brees two seasons in San Diego before Brees was traded; Rex Grossman, who started only seven times in his first three years with the Bears; J.P. Losman, who didn't start until his third season in Buffalo after breaking his leg as a rookie; and Aaron Rodgers, who didn't start until his fourth season because he played behind a guy named Brett Favre.

Could Lynch be No. 5?

Not happening.

I've seen Trevor Siemian again this week, and he is no Favre.

He's a nice NFL backup. Emphasis on nice.

Of the 18 current probable 2017 starting quarterbacks who were selected in first round, only two didn't become starters in their first season - Rodgers and Rivers.

Forgive the mention, but even Tim Tebow became the starter for the last 11 games of his second, and last, season with the Broncos. Jay Cutler started the final five games of his rookie year and all 16 his next season.

Lest we forget, John Elway was the starter in his first professional game, and so was Peyton Manning.

Three quarterbacks were chosen in the first round in 2016. Carson Wentz started every game after the Eagles traded Sam Bradford, who had been the 16-game starter with the Rams in 2010 when he was drafted No. 1 overall. Jared Goff was picked first last year by the same Rams, and became the starter for the final seven games.

Lynch, as a spot starter for two games because of Siemian injuries, was 1-1.

The other starters in the AFC West are Rivers, the Chiefs' Alex Smith (once chosen No. 1 overall), who started seven games as a rookie and all 16 the following season, and Derek Carr, who was selected 35th overall by the Raiders in 2014 and started 47 consecutive games before being injured in the last regular-season game of '16.

I won't list all the other first-round QBs in this century, but you know the names, which include Newton, Winston, Flacco, Ryan, Luck, Palmer, etc. They all started from the start. It took Ben Roethlisberger three games before he got his first start with Pittsburgh in 2014, and he went 13-0.

What are you waiting for, Broncos?

This "competition'' between Siemian and Lynch is a subterfuge.

And I'm not basing that judgment on one day of OTAs at Dove Valley when Lynch had his best workout of ... maybe forever, and Siemian looked very average, to be kind. Lynch did throw two impressive touchdown passes of some distance to Demaryius Thomas, was on target for several short passes and scrambled to extend plays.

Siemian did his accustomed check-down tosses when he couldn't discover receivers, and missed on a few relatively easy passes.

We keep being told by expert observers (oxymoron) that Siemian is light years ahead of Lynch.

However, the Millennium Falcon had a hyperdrive engine that would reduce distant difference, and so will Lynch. If you were to stand on the practice field and watch the two young men in shorts, jerseys and helmets stand, then throw the football, you'd point at the taller one and say: "There's the starting quarterback.''

Siemian is an intelligent, savvy, energetic, friendly, low-key fellow who sort of reminds me of former Broncos quarterbacks Steve DeBerg and Brian Griese. A person who spends a lot of time officially in the Broncos' building told me recently he never saw Siemian without an iPad, and he always was studying. He's a Northwestern graduate who wanted to be in commercial real estate if the NFL didn't work out.

He probably could interpret the entire playbook and the Rosetta Stone, which was unearthed in Memphis, Egypt.

Lynch attended the University of Memphis (in Tennessee), which isn't Northwestern, and the football team used large posters covered in squirrels and rock star photos to signal the plays to him. Nobody told me that he walked around with an Xbox, but, as a rookie, Lynch had serious learning to do.

But Lynch is more athletic, and he's football smarter now, and he has the stronger arm, and the extremely higher upside. And like the majority of starters in the league, he was picked in the top 36 (26th). All succeed or fail, but they don't sit for long.

Siemian was Gary Kubiak's guy, because the quarterback reminded the coach of himself as an overachieving player. Vance Joseph's guy seems to be Chad Kelly, who the new coach called his favorite quarterback in the draft (even though he was drafted last). But Kelly won't play a lick or a down this season.

And guess whose guy Lynch is?

You are correct.

Lynch will be the starter.

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