Now that the 2012 NFL Draft is in the can, it's time to take the Shutdown 50 scouting format forward and take a closer look at some of the surprising and fascinating selections from this year's draft -- the guys we missed in the original 50, but who could be impact players now or down the road. Our latest entry: Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler, selected by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick in the second round (57th overall).
Overview: Osweiler is a close friend of Jack Elway, son of Broncos big Kahuna John Elway. In fact, Elway and Osweiler were part of a messy five-way battle for the Arizona State quarterback job before the younger Elway gave up football.
So it is not too misleading to say that Osweiler beat Elway for the starting job. And once you beat an Elway, you become an Elway. Osweiler now drives around Colorado in his adopted dad's vintage Camaro in a throwback Stanford jersey, parking in restricted areas but getting away with it because he has "Elway Immunity" from prosecution. (Editor's note: that last sentence is almost certainly not true.)
John Elway didn't draft Osweiler just to make his son feel better, of course. Osweiler is a developmental quarterback, and the Broncos are exactly the kind of team that needs a developmental quarterback. Osweiler has the arm to be an NFL starter, but his 6-foot-6 7/8 frame is more of a liability than an asset. There is such a thing as a quarterback who is too tall to start in the NFL, and Osweiler has to scrunch down to get under the limit.
Strengths: Osweiler has an excellent arm and good accuracy. He can zip the ball into tight spots in the middle of the field and has enough oomph to throw NFL out-routes. He has good timing and accuracy on out routes and slants, anticipating and releasing the ball before his receivers come out of their breaks.
Osweiler runs well for a lanky guy. Arizona State used a lot of spread-option principles, and Osweiler was not afraid to keep the ball and take a lick in the middle of the field. He is a long strider, but he occasionally showed a bit of cutting ability.
Osweiler gets high marks for his mental makeup from those who know him well, among whom we can include the Elway family.
Weaknesses: Osweiler is a long-levered quarterback, the kind that loses foot quickness and release quickness early in his career. Joe Flacco is a fine example: Flacco was fast enough to run option plays as a rookie, but he now has trouble sliding around the pocket, and when his anticipation is not precise he has a hard time getting his long arm cocked and loaded in time to throw into a tight spot.
Osweiler has several different passing deliveries. One is an odd wind-up that he used often when throwing flare passes, a staple of the Sun Devils' playbook. Osweiler coils his body and side-arms the ball, like some 1970s middle reliever. He also sometimes displays a long, looping motion when preparing to throw deep. Couple the long delivery with the already long arm, and you get a major red flag: The receiver who is open when he starts throwing may not still be open when he finishes.
Conclusion: The danger with Osweiler is that he will already have lost some mobility and twitch quickness by the time he gets to play in (ideally) 2014 or so. The Broncos could end up investing a lot of development resources in a player who simply cannot get the ball to his receivers in time.
That said, it is hard to imagine a better set of tutors than Peyton Manning and a paternal-minded John Elway. Osweiler will have a great opportunity to straighten out his mechanics and learn the finer points of his position. A step-slow catapult of a quarterback with a fine arm and Manning-Elway training is better than what most teams have at quarterback in any given year, and better than what the Broncos had last year.
NFL Comparison: Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville Jaguars
Beyond the Shutdown 50:
Bruce Irvin, OLB/DE, Seattle Seahawks