Could Trevor Siemian Actually Win the Denver Broncos' Starting Quarterback Job?
By this point in the offseason, it seems safe to assume that most NFL teams would like to have their quarterback situation figured out. We're inching closer to training camp, and entering that stage in progression without a clear-cut signal caller would be a cause for a bit of anxiety.
The defending-champion Denver Broncos have passed anxiety, given it the middle finger, and placed the brown stuff directly in front of the fan.
The Broncos keep putting out word that Trevor Siemian is a real factor in quarterback competition https://t.co/CrHnWmpTCK
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 11, 2016
Yes, that is 2015 seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. No, this is not the first time Siemian's name has been tossed around as a potential starter in Week 1. It's a sentiment that stretches all the way back to the middle parts of June.
Gary Kubiak on battle b/w Mark Sanchez/Trevor Siemian: "Those two guys are right there with each other. It's a very competitive situation."
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 14, 2016
Siemian played one total offensive snap in his rookie season, and now he's potentially two months away from trying to get the Broncos back to the playoffs to defend their title. Could Siemian actually start in Week 1? Let's take a look at this relative unknown to try to find out.
Sub-Par Collegiate Resume
The praise for Siemian might make a bit more sense if he had a top-tier pedigree coming out of college, but Siemian's time at Northwestern likely won't qualify as anything close to that.
When looking at Siemian's marks -- as discussed by Salvatore Stefanile of TwoQBs.com -- you can see why he fell to the seventh round. He never had a passing efficiency rating above 126.4 in a season with at least 30 attempts, and his highest adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) was 6.6. During his best season (as a junior in 2013), Siemian was ninth in the Big Ten in passing efficiency rating and eighth in AY/A.
In our investigation of which collegiate stats matter most for evaluating quarterbacks, we saw that we can glean a lot of information about a quarterback from his collegiate stats. Top-tier NFL quarterbacks typically had passing efficiency ratings near 160 their final seasons in college, and their AY/A was above 9.0. Siemian didn't come close to those marks -- finishing at 105.9 and 4.7, respectively -- his final season with the Wildcats. That year may have been most memorable for this attempted two-point conversion.
In Siemian's defense, that final season included a bunch of offensive-line issues, and he was essentially getting pummeled each time he dropped back. Still, even with that included, is there enough here to justify a potential starting job?
The best thing Siemian has going for him right now is that the alternatives are pretty slim pickings for the Broncos. It's either him, Mark Sanchez, or incoming rookie Paxton Lynch. This will be fine, right?
Sanchez has recorded at least 200 drop backs five times in his career. Based on numberFire's Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), he has only been a top-20 passer one of those seasons. That came in 2014 with the Philadelphia Eagles when he was 12th in Passing NEP per drop back while playing in place of an injured Nick Foles. Outside of that, it's a whole lot of muck.
Even that 2014 glimmer of hope was tainted a bit last year by some truly wretched metrics. Of the 46 quarterback to record at least 100 drop backs, Sanchez ranked 41st in Passing NEP per drop back, well behind 25th-place Sam Bradford, who played under the exact same conditions as Sanchez. There's not a whole lot to love there, and Siemian's inclusion in the quarterback battle is further validation of those concerns.
That's not quite the case with Lynch. Although he hasn't yet thrown a pass, Lynch's collegiate stats were impressive and compared well to first overall pick, Jared Goff. If we're going just based on their final collegiate seasons, it's pretty clear who would hold the upper hand between Lynch and Siemian.
|Quarterback||Pass. Eff. Rating||AY/A||Total QBR|
This is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison considering that defenses in the Big Ten are likely far superior to those in the American Conference, but the discrepancy there should speak volumes. Based on their collegiate resumes, there is little reason to believe that Siemian will be a better long-term quarterback than Lynch, and even the short term would appear a bit iffy.
Could Trevor Siemian start for the Denver Broncos? Absolutely. With his competition being a former first-round bust and a player with even less NFL experience than Siemian himself, that's certainly a possibility. But should he? That's a completely different story.
It's understandable if the Broncos would want to play for the upside and choose a non-Sanchez starter. We know what Sanchez is in the NFL, and that's a largely below-average asset. We don't, however, know what Siemian and Lynch can be, increasing the incentive to start one of them over the veteran while having Sanchez as a competent back-up should things go awry.
The hard part here, though, is justifying starting Siemian over Lynch. When you compare the two head to head, Lynch takes the cake in every significant category with his superior collegiate stats and high draft capital. Sure, Siemian has spent time on an NFL roster, but that included one regular-season snap. It seems hard to say that should be enough to give him the starting job.
At the end of the day, the Broncos' coaching staff is always going to have a better read on the situation than we will as they are able to see each of the three quarterbacks during practices. If they deem Siemian the best option based on what they see there, it would be hard for us to question that decision. But based on the information we have now about each of these three pieces, it would seem highly unlikely that Siemian would be equipped to start in Week 1.