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John Elway: At QB, 'cerebral approach' and comfort in pocket matters
April 19, 2018 11:18 PM | Andrew Mason
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The draft process is always evolving -- and not just because you're evaluating a different collection of prospects every year.

How the Broncos evaluate the prospects -- from quarterbacks through every other position on the board -- is shaped by their own scrutinization of past drafts, looking back at what went right, what went wrong, and how the pre-draft evaluations compared with each player's actual pro path.

"What we try to do is try to learn from the mistakes that you make," President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said Thursday. "Obviously drafting is tough because there are so many factors that go into it, and so many hidden things that you really can't see that you hope that come out, and players, and background and character that you find that can enable these players to come and make a step to the NFL and have successful careers.

"We're always evaluating ourselves and looking at guys that we've drafted that have been successful and look at their numbers that way and go back and look at the reports from three-to-four years later to see if there's anything that we missed. We continue to try and get better at it."

And at quarterback, that means looking at some different attributes at the position.

There was a time when Elway admitted he was "a lot more" drawn to a quarterback that had a big arm. The arrival of a future Hall of Famer changed that.

"Then we had Peyton , right?" Elway said. "Peyton was more of the cerebral type. I've learned a lot since I've been doing this job as far as what certain quarterbacks have success with."

One thing he's learned: That quarterback must be able to flourish in the pocket.

"The bottom line is that I believe the one thing is that you've got to be able to win from the pocket," Elway said. "No matter what you do, I think the one thing that I've learned is as a quarterback you've got to be able to win it from the pocket. You can win games but you can't win championships unless you have the ability to win it from the pocket.

"Then if you can get out and move around and create, and do those types of things, then that's an added bonus."

Pocket proficency is one attribute shared by the four quarterbacks widely believed to be at the top of the draft: Wyoming's Josh Allen, USC's Sam Darnold, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and UCLA's Josh Rosen.

Elway added that he did not have more than four quarterbacks graded as first-rounders, and that there is not yet a consensus in the Broncos' draft room about the order in which those four passers should be ranked.

"We'll still continued to talk about that. You can go around a room and probably get four or five different opinions on how they should be stacked," Elway said. "But the bottom line is once you come to a consensus of maybe where the first and second ones are -- if you have that consensus, then you're doing pretty good."

Where Mayfield stands is a matter of debate, but Elway emphasized that height is not an issue for the 6-foot Heisman Trophy winner.

"When you look at the guys that have had success that are his height and even a little bit shorter -- I think Russell is a little bit shorter than Baker," Elway said.

"I think that what he's done -- the numbers he's put up and the success he's had the last three years at Oklahoma -- I think he's overcome the size issue."



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