TEMPE, Ariz. – Brock Osweiler knew the question was coming as he walked off the Cardinals practice field at Kurt Warner’s charity event on Saturday, back in the city where he built his reputation.
What if he had stayed at Arizona State for his senior season to quarterback what proved to be a surprising season under first-year coach Todd Graham? What if he had tasted a bowl victory instead of a bitter Las Vegas Bowl defeat?
What if he had waited to join a quarterback-poor 2013 draft class instead of throwing his name into a heavy hat of talented 2012 prospects? What if he had been a first-round pick — maybe even the first overall pick — instead of a second-round pick?
“You can look at all that and wonder, but shoot, who knows? Maybe I would have broken my neck in Week 1,” Osweiler said.
All right then.
“That’s why I say I have no regrets,” said Osweiler, laughing at the severity of his initial response. “I don’t look in the mirror at all. I’m happy for ASU. (Sun Devils quarterback) Taylor (Kelly) killed it. The offense really suits him well. I think he’s going to do some great things the rest of his career.”
As for Osweiler’s future, the jury is still out. That’s generally the case when you play understudy to a first-ballot Hall of Famer, like Osweiler did last season in Denver behind Peyton Manning.
“It’s an honor and it’s an experience,” Osweiler said. “The thing about Peyton is he’s truly taught me how to be a professional just by watching him. When I look back to my ASU career, it makes me feel like a kid sometimes with the way I was doing things.
“Peyton’s a tremendous man, athlete, role model and leader.”
Osweiler admits it was also a bit intimidating playing behind an NFL icon, but the presence of two ASU teammates on Denver’s training camp roster – cornerback Omar Bolden and receiver Gerell Robinson – at least smoothed the off-the-field adjustment.
“Gerell was my roommate during training camp,” Osweiler said. “To not be rooming with some random guy you’ve never met before, that was pretty cool. It made the transition so easy to go into a locker room and know a bunch of guys that you’re already comfortable with.”
The adjustment period to the NFL game wasn’t as simple.
“The verbiage is different, there’s a lot more to study, the game plan is more complex, there’s more film study,” he said, noting how much simpler the college game seems now when he watches it. “I was just with (offensive coordinator Noel) Mazzone over at UCLA and I was watching some of their games from last year. Right away when you’re watching defenses, you can read it and say, ‘Oh, this is going to be Cover 3, this is going to be Cover 4.’
“You get to this league and the way D-coordinators put in game plans with disguises and all the different looks and coverages and mixed coverages — it’s a completely different ball game. But your comfort level grows day by day. I would say from Day 1 of training camp to the playoff loss, I grew exponentially.”
Watching Osweiler throw at Warner’s Ultimate Football Experience on Saturday in Tempe, it was hard not to imagine what could have happened had the Cardinals had a second-round pick last season (they traded it in the Kevin Kolb deal). They had Osweiler in for a pre-draft visit with eventual first-round pick Michael Floyd last season.
“I had a great interview with the Cardinals, and I thought something might happen there, I really did,” said Osweiler, who plans to spend his offseasons in the Valley. “But I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to go to Denver. It was a great first season, it’s a great organization and a great city, and we had a tremendous season.
“I couldn’t be more fortunate with the way things have turned out.”