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Woody Paige: Who's No. 3? Broncos could pick another Tennessee QB

April 16, 2017 Updated: April 17, 2017 at 10:04 am
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Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) looks for a receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Word association.

Quarterback. Orange. University of Tennessee. Denver Broncos.

And you immediately think:

Peyton Manning.

Think again:

Joshua Dobbs.

The Broncos need and want a third quarterback this season.

Most of the free agent quarterbacks already have signed with other teams, and the Broncos are not bringing back Jay Cutler under any circumstances (John Elway never liked him a whit). They won't consider Colin Kaepernick (after he turned down Elway a year ago at this time, and he's now a baggage handler), and RG3 and Johnny out-of-Football never will play in Denver.

The Broncos might contemplate Christian Ponder, who is 29, but it seems like light years since he was the Vikings' starter. This line, though, would be slick: "Christian Ponder hands the ball to Christian McCaffrey, and they are both very religious Christians."

It's highly probable that the Broncos will choose another young quarterback. Elway, as might be suspected, is passionate about quarterbacks. He has picked four in the past five drafts - Brock Osweiler, Zac Dysert, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. All still are in the league (if you count Brock).

Coach Vance Joseph said at the league meetings that adding a veteran as the No. 3 quarterback "makes no sense." He then said: "I wouldn't discount drafting a quarterback ... That's possible."

However, the Broncos have given no indication who it will be, and when. They did interview one - Pat Mahomes of Texas Tech - but he'll go in the first round. They have watched quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, the NFL combine and Pro Days, and they possess dossiers on the top 21. They could try to uncover another in the last round, as they did with Siemian (who was injured late in his senior season) and Dysert (a third-stringer on six teams in four seasons).

Or they could choose a QB in the fourth round, where Dak Prescott was selected last season. Prescott, as I wrote before the draft in 2016, was my preference.

This year before the draft, my preference is Dobbs. He would be an exceptional pick and pick-up. The 22-year-old, 6-foot-3, 210-pound graduate in space aerospace engineering is among only four quarterbacks in SEC history to throw for 50 touchdowns and run for 30. The others were, uh, Tim Tebow and, ugh, Johnny Manziel and, oh, Prescott.

Dobbs was mentored, over the phone and in person, for the past four years, by Manning His Own Self.

"The best advice, easily, I've gotten from Peyton Manning is the importance of preparation," Dobbs told profootballtalk.com.

"He just talks about his preparation each and every week, his pre-snap process and his communication at the quarterback position. And then to go on the field with him and see the importance of each and every rep ... that's definitely made me a better quarterback."

Dobbs was the most impressive quarterback at the Senior Bowl and was in the top three quarterbacks in all the measurables at the combine. He is the most intelligent quarterback in the draft. The consistent criticism is his accuracy, despite Dobbs completing 63 percent of his passes as a senior.

One NFL scout said Dobbs' Pro Day was the best of all the college quarterbacks, and Jon Gruden said after grilling Dobbs during his taped QB Camp: "He's going to be a steal for somebody in the draft."

Why not the Broncos?

Full disclosure: Tennessee is my alma mater, and I'm obviously biased. But I once told Dan Reeves after I covered a Stanford game in 1982: "I've just seen a kid who will become the greatest quarterback in the NFL." And Reeves replied: "We'll never get Elway, so forget about it."

And the Broncos did OK drafting Vols Al Wilson and Malik Jackson, and signing a guy named Manning off the street.

Speaking of, if the Broncos want to improve Siemian, Lynch and, possibly, Dobbs, Elway (who worked with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy) would be wise to ask Manning to drive down the street several days, or perhaps for two weeks, during OTAs and training camp and talk to, and coach up, the quarterbacks.

The Broncos also should draft Alvin Kamara, the Tennessee running back they've interviewed, in the second round. He could be the best of the bunch.

Orange is the ideal color for Alvin and Joshua.

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