A Tweak Here, a Tweak There

Brock Osweiler’s arm strength was arguably the strongest in the draft — even with a delivery that needed refinement.

Adam Gase and Brock Osweiler

Where Noel Mazzone left off, QBs coach Adam Gase will pick up in refining Brock Osweiler's mechanics.

If John Elway and John Fox had not seen progress in Brock Osweiler’s delivery when they worked him out at Arizona State on April 6, the long-term future of the Broncos’ quarterback position might belong to another draft pick — or be unsettled entirely.

But what they saw comforted them.

“You could tell that he’d worked on his delivery. It used to be a little bit lower,” Fox recalled Friday, after Osweiler and his fellow rookies had completed their first NFL practice to open the first day of the weekend rookie minicamp.

“Guys tweak stuff, whether it’s golfers with golf swings or you know players with motions and whatnot. It’s not radical. He needs to use his height advantage a little bit better with that higher delivery. He was an accurate passer. I think he became more accurate.”

When those words were relayed to Osweiler, he smiled, beginning a buoyant press conference in which he appeared not merely happy to be in Denver on a damp, cool May day, but downright ecstatic.

“If Coach Fox is happy, that’s a good sign,” Osweiler said, “but obviously I’ve got to go out there and keep improving. That’s something that we worked very hard on — when I say ‘we,’ I mean Coach (Noel) Mazzone and myself — the last couple of months to improve my delivery, improve my footwork. For Coach to notice it today, that’s a good sign.”

Mazzone, the UCLA offensive coordinator, first landed on the Broncos’ radar for his work with Tim Tebow in February. But he was also Arizona State’s offensive coordinator from 2010-11, where he helped guide Osweiler to the attention of NFL scouts.

With Mazzone helping tutor him, Osweiler figures he’s thrown 10,000 passes since the end of last season in an attempt to polish his delivery, which was strong but inefficient, with some passes often coming out sidearmed.

“The main thing would be getting my elbow raised up,” Osweiler said. A lot of times in college, my elbow would drop below my shoulder, and when you do that, you lose velocity, you lose accuracy, you’re less consistent with your throws.

“So basically made a huge point to bring that elbow up to a more traditional throwing motion and get it above my shoulder. Coach (Mazzone) did a tremendous job, but now the biggest thing is to transition those training sessions out there to the playing field.”

It might take another few thousand throws for Osweiler to get his motion where he wants it — and now it will be quarterbacks coach Adam Gase who supervises the work. During Friday’s practice, Osweiler showed progress, with his elbow so high and his delivery so tight that he only needed a mere flick to hit receivers during an early practice drill. However, he felt there was a moment or more when he lapsed into old habits.

“I heard Coach Gase a couple of times chirping behind me about, ‘Don’t do that,’ ‘Don’t do this,’ ‘Make sure you’re doing that,’ so I’m sure there was.”

But that’s to be expected for Osweiler’s first practice with his tweaked delivery.

“I felt very comfortable with it,” he said. “I felt more consistent with my accuracy. Where I was trying to put the ball, for the most part the ball ended up there. So I was very happy with it; now I’ve just got to keep building upon that.”

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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