Peyton Manning's successor is a cool cat from Florida

Credit: Nam Y. Huh

Credit: Nam Y. Huh

Peyton Manning's successor isn't Brock Osweiler or Colin Kaepernick or Mark Sanchez, all of whom had better offseason odds than NFL novice Trevor Siemian.

When Broncos GM John Elway declined to overpay Osweiler, Manning's longtime backup bolted to Houston 48 hours after his mentor called it a career. Elway quickly acquired Sanchez from the Eagles but he really had his eyes fixed on Kaepernick, who rejected a pay cut to facilitate a trade from the 49ers to Denver.

So, Elway moved on — and he moved up in the first round of the draft, selecting Paxton Lynch of Memphis, who very well might be the franchise's future.

The present, though, belongs to Siemian, a QB who won the starting job with a mix of brains and brawn, precision and poise, steadiness and spunk.

The Carolina Panthers will certainly try to unnerve Siemian in his first NFL start Thursday night in the2016 season opener .

Thing is, nobody at Broncos headquarters has ever seen the 2015 seventh-round pick get rattled.

Not when he was Osweiler's backup for two months last season when Manning was hurt.

Not when he ran the scout team against Denver's destructive defense that brought home the Lombardi Trophy.

Not even when coach Gary Kubiak named him the starter.

"He's the same guy: cool, calm and collected," said wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. "He's not going to change. He's not going to waver. I know that he wants to show the world, 'Hey, look at this guy out here, No. 13.' I think he can make plays and make all the throws."

So, just who is Trevor Siemian?

(Let's start with a pronouncer: It's Sim-EE-in).

He was a high school star in central Florida who could have gone to any number of schools that would have loved that strong right arm that also made him an outstanding third baseman. He chose Northwestern, though, as much for its academics as its athletics.

He played in 44 games for the Wildcats but started just 14 — yet still finished as the school's fourth-leading passer.

He tore an ACL in his final college game and that scared away plenty of teams but not the Broncos, who chose him with the 250th overall pick, after which Siemian declared, "I can't think of a better scenario" than to learn from Manning and Osweiler.

By training camp last year he was healthy enough to practice and he quickly showed Elway that he wouldn't be able to slip him through waivers to get him on the practice squad. He made the 53-man roster and spent the season soaking in all he could from his coaches and colleagues.

"It was a great opportunity for me last year to learn a lot from Brock and Peyton," Siemian said as the Broncos began their offseason program last spring. "At this point, I'm kind of getting antsy to apply some of those things I picked up from those guys."

That, he did.

Siemian had a year's head start in Kubiak's West Coast offense, and he used that advantage to show Elway that his answer at quarterback had been under his nose all along.

Siemian mixed that knowledge with accurate, strong throws and poise under pressure to win his teammates' trust.

Siemian may come off as humdrum in interviews, but he's actually a cutup whose locker room leadership is apparent even on a roster full of seasoned stars with new diamond-encrusted rings.

"He's a guy that's very smart, he likes to laugh, he likes to have fun, but he also likes to work," tight end Virgil Green said. "He goes out there every day ready to fight."

"Who is Trevor Siemian?" kicker Brandon McManus pondered. "I guess a lot of people don't see it, they kind of see him as pretty straightforward, kind of his media interviews and whatnot. He's a pretty big goofball, just hearing him laugh a lot and loves to tell jokes. He and I play golf a decent amount, just shooting the breeze around the golf course. He's a super funny person. But as everyone says, he's super intelligent, he knows a lot of stuff and there's a reason that they named him the starter."

His demeanor didn't change when Kubiak named him the starter and said he won't have to dial down the playbook.

"Trevor has always been himself," left guard Max Garcia said. "He's kind of lighthearted and it's good to have a guy like that. Even when he got here as a rookie he was very poised. I can't say that I've ever seen him rattled."

McManus can't even recall Siemian ever losing his cool on the golf course. He just has that slow heartbeat that coaches and teammates love.

"I don't know where he's learned that from," McManus said. "I've never even talked to him about it before but I've seen it on the field and all the players talk about it. So, it's just kind of a unique trait that he has that helps him stay calm throughout the game and gives us a chance to win."