Posted: Saturday April 29, 2006 3:42PM; Updated: Saturday April 29, 2006 4:05PM
Jay Cutler faced stiff opposition week in and week out at Vanderbilt.
DENVER (AP) -- Jay Cutler has picked the brains of Brett Favre and Steve McNair, fellow quarterback clients of his agent, Bus Cook.
Cutler, whom the Broncos selected with the 11th pick in the NFL draft on Saturday, also hopes to pepper John Elway with questions when he gets to Denver.
The biggest question for Cutler, however?
Just how long is he willing to serve as an understudy to Jake Plummer?
"Well, I don't want to put a time limit on it," said Cutler, the SEC's player of the year whose stock began to soar during his spectacular senior season at Vanderbilt. "I think that it's good for a quarterback to wait coming in as a rookie, learn the system, watch someone successful in front of him do it."
"But I'm a competitor. I want to play," Cutler said. "I'm just going to go in there and compete and try to learn as quickly as possible."
Denver hadn't selected a quarterback in the first round since drafting Tommy Maddox out of UCLA in 1992, and it came as a surprise considering the Broncos' biggest needs were at the other offensive skill positions: running back, wide receiver and tight end.
Cutler's 23rd birthday celebration on Saturday turned into a surprise party when the Broncos, who hadn't spoken with him since the NFL combine in February, called him with the stunning news that he was their man.
"This wasn't part of the plan that we thought was coming," Cutler said. "But it's going to be great. I can't wait to get out there."
Cutler never figured Denver would go for a quarterback in the first round just three months after reaching the AFC championship game.
"We had no warning. I think I knew about 15 seconds before everyone else did," Cutler said. "It is a surprise and it's going to be great to get on a winning team that's been there and is a game away from the Super Bowl. I'm excited to get out there and learn from Jake Plummer and coach (Mike) Shanahan."
Plummer is coming off his best season as a pro, one in which he led the Broncos to a 14-4 record but one that will be remembered most for a loss at home to Pittsburgh in the AFC title game.
After breaking out of his mold as a gambler, Plummer reverted to his old habits against the Steelers, costing the Broncos a shot at their first trip to the Super Bowl since Elway retired after leading them to back-to-back Lombardi trophies in 1997-98.
Plummer has four seasons left on a seven-year, $40.7 million deal he signed in July 2003, and the Broncos committed to him for the long term last summer when they ponied up a $6 million roster bonus.
"Jake Plummer, I think he's got a lot of years left," Cutler said. "I think he's a great quarterback. He's been doing it in Denver the last couple of years. I'm going to go in there and compete and learn as much as I can from Jake and Coach and everyone else there. I'm going to have to wait and see what happens."
He doesn't want to wait long.
The Broncos, the most active trading team in the NFL, moved up from No. 29 to No. 15 through a series of deals before the draft. Then, on Saturday, they jumped four spots to No. 11 by sending St. Louis their first-rounder and a third-round selection (No. 68 overall).
Cutler, who had poor pass protection and faced stiff opposition week in and week out at Vandy, was the final quarterback of the "Big Three," behind Texas' Vince Young, who went third to Tennessee, and Southern Cal's Matt Leinart, who was selected 10th by Arizona.
Cutler is not as polished as Leinart and not as athletically gifted as Young, but he does have the better arm of the three plus has better legs than Leinart and more experience as a drop-back passer than Young.
Like any rookie, he has a lot of learning to do and lot of hard work ahead as he adjusts to the pro game.
"Everyone is all over my footwork and how I throw off my back foot. I think that at times that was the only option that I had playing here," Cutler said. "I think footwork is easily corrected. I've already corrected a lot of it. It's just getting into the system and getting used to the offense."
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