John Elway has an eye for quarterbacks. Sadly, as his track record at April’s NFL draft indicates, his vision is myopic, which might explain why the Denver Broncos legend handed over his general manager duties during the off-season. (He’ll still be the team’s president of football operations.) Elway, however, did leave his successor, George Paton, a guide for success in the bits and pieces of his most notable signal callers not named Peyton Manning.

Photo illustration by Sean Parsons

Joe Flacco’s Right Arm
Yes, Flacco finished 2-6 as a starter in Denver. But after witnessing the “Mile High Miracle”—the 70-yard touchdown pass Flacco, then with the Baltimore Ravens, threw to help bounce Denver from the 2013 playoffs—Broncos Nation learned the importance of packing an arm cannon.

Kendall Hinton’s Speed
Elway had an affinity for tall, lumbering quarterbacks. It was this speedy practice squad receiver (and former college QB), however, who rescued the Broncos against the New Orleans Saints last season—when every Denver quarterback was ruled out because of COVID-19 protocols.

Trevor Siemian’s Brain
Siemian became a regular starter for two years following Peyton Manning’s retirement, during which time the Academic All-Big Ten honoree outfoxed opponents on his way to a winning record.

Drew Lock’s Confidence
Toward the end of the 2019 season, Drew Lock’s self-assured attitude made both fans and teammates (Von Miller said, “He’s a rock star in the making”) swoon. Even though he led the league in interceptions in 2020, Lock is still full of swag.

Tim Tebow’s Q Score
During his rookie season with the Broncos in 2010, Tebow had the best-selling jersey in the NFL. A franchise quarterback needs to boast that kind of star power—and Tebow’s toughness, spirit, and (yeah, we’ll say it) good looks wouldn’t hurt either.

This article was originally published in 5280 April 2021.
Shane Monaghan
Shane Monaghan
Shane Monaghan is the former digital editor of and teaches journalism at Regis Jesuit High School.