As draft looms for Broncos, new quarterback's drive remains strong

Case Keenum excited about Denver sunshine, starting role

Arnie Stapleton
Associated Press
Posted 4/19/18

Case Keenum couldn't wait to get out of Minnesota. No, he's not bitter over the Vikings' decision to move on to Kirk Cousins. And he isn't gloating over being “the man” for the first time in his …

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As draft looms for Broncos, new quarterback's drive remains strong

Case Keenum excited about Denver sunshine, starting role

Posted

Case Keenum couldn't wait to get out of Minnesota.

No, he's not bitter over the Vikings' decision to move on to Kirk Cousins.

And he isn't gloating over being “the man” for the first time in his NFL career after signing a two-year, $36 million deal last month in Denver.

He's just glad to see some sunshine, that's all.

Before coming to Colorado for the Broncos' offseason program, Keenum made a stop in Minneapolis to accept the “Uncommon Award'' from Tony Dungy at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska on April 13.

The only downer was the blizzard that struck the nation's midsection.

“It dumped like 25 inches on us,'' Keenum said. “So, I was ready to get out of there and get to Denver and the sunshine.''

Keenum is entering the season as the starter for the first time in his six-year career after coach Vance Joseph declared him the Broncos' No. 1 QB at the free agent's introductory news conference a month ago.

Yet, Keenum's role beyond 2018 remains up in the mile-high air because general manager John Elway could still use the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft, which begins April 26, to select a quarterback.

Elway and his lieutenants have taken long, hard looks at this year's college crop of QBs, including the “Big Four” prospects. They hosted Baker Mayfield on April 16 but Keenum said he hadn't run into him.

Keenum also insists he isn't concerned that he'll soon be tutoring his successor should Elway choose a quarterback.

“I'm excited for whoever's going to come in and make us better,'' Keenum said. “That's what competition breeds within your own team. I think it makes you better. So, whoever comes in I'll be looking for them to help us be a better football team. No matter what position it is. I know they're going to draft a lot of positions. It doesn't change my mindset at all.''

Yet, non-QB blue chippers such as Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson would provide immediate help for Keenum this season and maybe even stability for his future.

Von Miller has said he'd love to have Chubb lining up next to him.

“He's Khalil Mack and Von Miller put together,'' Miller said with a laugh. “He is a great player and I would love to have him on my team. You don't come across guys like that often. We don't (normally) have the No. 5 pick in the draft. I hope we don't have a high pick like that for a while. So if we can steal a player like that, I'm all for it.''

When Keenum reported to work April 16, it marked the first time he'd been the unquestioned starting quarterback since his final days at the University of Houston, where he set NCAA passing records but still went undrafted before compiling a 20-18 record with the Vikings, Rams and Texans.

“It feels good, it does,'' Keenum said. “It's not something where I feel like I've made it. That's not ever my mentality. I'm going to stay hungry.

“Nothing's ever been handed to me. I've earned that right, and I'm going to continue to earn that right being in this building, in the weight room, meeting room, practice field and then on game day.''

The Broncos' anemic offense was a big reason for their slide to 5-11 last season, just two years after they won the Super Bowl, and Elway's makeover includes the arrival of right tackle Jared Veldheer and the recent departure of running back C.J. Anderson.

Anderson could have provided a valuable sounding board to Keenum much like he did with Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian.

“It doesn't change me and my mindset and what I'm prepared to do here and what I want to do here, what I feel like I need to do,'' Keenum said. “I know that NFL teams change constantly. So, I'm here right now, just trying to get into the building and just become familiar with everything.''

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