ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kevin Hogan is an intuitive sort, as is typical of veteran backup quarterbacks.
He knew even when he re-signed his one-year, $1.29 million with the Broncos on March 21 that his team would draft a quarterback during the following month’s draft.
Hogan knew this because there wasn’t a young quarterback in the Broncos’ quarterback room. There was Joe Flacco as the 34-year-old starter, Hogan as a 26-year-old backup and Garrett Grayson as a 28-year-old No. 3 QB.
NFL teams simply don’t carry on without bringing along a young, developmental quarterback.
Sure enough, the Broncos not only drafted one quarterback by trading up in the second round to nab Drew Lock but signed undrafted rookie Brett Rypien with an unusually large guarantee.
Grayson was cut to make room. Hogan was kept in case it was decided Lock needed a season of training.
“I didn’t know too much about him,’’ Hogan said of Lock during an interview with 9News in June just before the team broke for summer vacation. “But since then, I’ve gotten to know he’s an awesome kid. Very talented. He and Brett are great additions to the QB room. They’re going to be great quarterbacks for years to come.
“I’m happy they’re in the room with us. For me, it’s not worrying about what other people are doing. It’s just worry about myself. Control what I can control and move on from there.’’
In the final five weeks of the Broncos’ offseason program, Hogan was the No. 2 QB behind Flacco and Lock was No. 3. That order is expected to rollover unchanged when the Broncos open for the first day of training camp July 17, or 10 days from now.
And then it will be on. The No. 2 competition for backup QB between Hogan and Lock will be one of the most watched roster battles in camp.
“You’re always competing,’’ Hogan said. “You wouldn’t want it any other way. Competition brings out the best in people and it pushes you, yourself, further than you could have pushed yourself alone. It’s healthy competition and it’s something that will make our team better.’’
Hogan had a brilliant four-year career at Stanford, leading the Cardinal to three bowl wins. Proving to NFL coaches and executives he can play on Sundays, though, has required patience. He wasn’t selected until the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, who cut him as they set their season-opening roster his rookie year.
He then bounced between the Cleveland Browns, where he played sparingly, and Washington, where he had an impressive enough preseason to be claimed off waivers by the Broncos last year to replace former first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch.
Hogan began last season as Denver’s No. 3 QB, then was promoted to Case Keenum’s backup after Chad Kelly was unceremoniously released following his bizarre, wayward excursion from Von Miller’s Halloween party to a stranger’s living room.
Hogan dressed but never played in the Broncos’ final nine games as the durable Keenum took every snap. The team period of practice is closed during the regular season so the local media watched Hogan perform during 11-on-11 drills for the first time this spring.
He looked good some days, not as good in others -- but he was still more consistent than the rookies.
“I am trying to take it to the next level both mechanically, mentally,’’ Hogan said. “I’m taking the coaching very critically and harshly and I want to apply it each day. Whether it’s something with my feet or something with how the ball’s coming out, where my reads are, I’m trying to apply it and I feel like I have gotten better and I feel way more comfortable than I did my first few years in the league.’’
Like the other three quarterbacks, Hogan is learning a new offensive system from new coordinator Rich Scangarello. It’s not too much different from Bill Musgrave’s West Coast offense that was used last year. But a new coordinator always brings his own style, concepts and terminology.
“I love this offense,’’ Hogan said. “I think coach Scangarello has done a great job installing it, making it very quarterback friendly. A lot of things look the same to the defense so it makes for getting the tight ends and receivers open. And we’ve been making a lot plays this spring. We all feel pretty comfortable and excited to continue that into training camp.’’
There is competing with the kids for the No. 2 spot. And there is working alongside Flacco, who was acquired before Hogan re-upped to be the Broncos’ unquestioned starter.
“He’s one of the most talented quarterbacks I’ve ever seen,’’ Hogan said. “He makes some throws each day where you’re just in awe. He’s a great leader, the guys respond well to him. So it’s definitely someone I can look at and try to emulate my game after.’’
Providing new head coach Vic Fangio follows the recent trend, Hogan figures to be the first Broncos’ quarterback used in the Hall of Fame Game on August 1 against the Atlanta Falcons in Canton, Ohio. First stringers don’t typically play in the Hall of Fame Game.
Meaning no disrespect to Hogan but many Broncos fans and NFL fans from around the country will be waiting for him to hurry up and finish up so they can check out the rookies Lock and Rypien in their professional debuts.
Hogan doesn’t mind playing the role of the “other guy.”
“Not at all,’’ he said. “I have so much to worry about with myself and getting better. I’m trying to learn this offense and take the coaching and apply it each day. I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing.
“So I’m not worried about that other stuff. I know they’re worried about their game as well and we’re all trying to help each other. We’re all Broncos quarterbacks and we want the team to do well so we’re all rooting for each other.”
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