DENVER - Jay Cutler insists that Matt Leinart and Vince Young have nothing on him — other than the fatter paychecks they have forthcoming.
Cutler was the last of the “Big Three” quarterbacks chosen in the first round of the NFL draft, going to Denver at No. 11, one slot after Southern Cal’s Leinart went to Arizona. Young, who led Texas to the national championship, went third to Tennessee.
“I think I’m in the same category as those guys,” Cutler said Sunday upon his first visit to Broncos headquarters. “I think I can play with them any day of the week.”
Cutler is the only one of the three quarterbacks who is headed to a winner. But chances are he’ll spend his rookie year on the sideline backing up Jake Plummer, who led the Broncos to the AFC championship game in January.
Cutler isn’t as polished as Leinart and not as athletically gifted as Young, but he has the better arm of the three plus has better legs than Leinart and more experience as a drop-back passer than Young.
Cutler said he feels fortunate to go to a Super Bowl contender even if his time won’t come right away.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t trade spots with them,” Cutler said of Leinart and Young. “I mean, they’re going to get a little bit more money. That’s fine. They can have it. Staying here and getting in a situation like this I think down the road is going to pay off.”
While Arizona and Tennessee drafted high because they finished toward the bottom of the league last year, the Broncos moved all the way from the 29th pick to the 11th through a series of trades.
“I think going into this situation is good,” Cutler said. “They know how to win. I’m going to fit in. I think going to Vanderbilt where we had to change the mentality, that was a little hard. Going to an organization and a program like this, they know how to win. You are going to catch on. Winning is contagious.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“Being in the SEC, being at Florida (as an assistant in the early 1980s) and understanding the quality of play in that conference, for him to be a player of the year speaks for itself,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “Very few times can a quarterback at a school be the MVP where they don’t have the same type of athletes that some of the schools have in the conference.”
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