Peyton Manning
A year ago, Manning arguably would have been at the top of the list. It’s hard to put him in the top five with his injuries, but Manning should still be one of the league’s best in. In 2010, he threw for 4,700 yards and 33 touchdowns. Reuters

Just a few months ago, Peyton Manning's reputation was at stake.

The veteran quarterback signed with the Denver Broncos after missing the entire 2012 NFL Season due to neck surgery. Some speculated that he would never be the same, while others said he would be able to play for another five years.

Every day there seems to be a new report on the progress Manning is making simply by the accuracy of his passes.

I think he's doing tremendous, head coach John Fox said. Physically, he looks the same to me as he's always looked.

There's no denying that Manning can throw the ball deep. He's done it throughout his career, but the test of whether he is ready to take the field is still yet to be determined.

In a game that is built around big hits, the idea of returning to the field after major neck surgery might not sound that appealing. Despite Roger Goodell's quest to protect quarterbacks, it's still a very dangerous sport.

While Manning says that he is progressing greatly, and he is working hard during his rehab session, he still has yet to play in a live game.

The newly established quarterback needs to take some hits. It's just that simple.

He cannot rest for preseason games during the summer because that will only subject the Broncos to more question marks. Denver needs to know the status of his health prior to the season, rather than during the start of the first game.

While it's clear that OTAs are necessary for Manning to get on page with his new receivers, his ability to play and overall strength as a starter is far more important than chemistry.

Assuming that doctors have been correct on their assumptions of Manning's progress, the Broncos organization can only move in one direction.

They need to build the team around Manning.

Led by John Elway, the Broncos front office has certainly made the transition for Manning that much more comfortable.

After signing their new franchise quarterback, Denver went out and picked up familiar targets for Manning, including former Colts receivers, Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokley. They also signed former Texans tight-end Joel Dreessen.

All have showed impressive outings in OTA events, along with the rest of the receiving group who are still adjusting to Manning's style of play.

It's totally different, receiver Demaryius Thomas said. Basically, it's knowing what you've got to do. If you know what you've got to do and are in the right spot, he'll get the ball to you.

As stationed by the coaches, the starting offense is regularly lining up against the starting defense to perfect their plays, and to allow each side of the ball to receive the best competition available.

We get great looks versus our defense, you get great coverage, Manning said. That's something that the more work you get, the better you're going to be. It's going to be hard to get a more challenging look than going against some of the guys in our secondary, which is only going to make us better.

The Broncos are scheduled to begin mandatory mini-camp as soon as June 12, and expect the majority of personnel and contract situations to be resolved.

I still have work to do in my rehab, and that's the good thing about these OTAs, Manning said. The tough thing right now is we're installing new plays. I think as minicamp comes up next week, we'll be able to start repeating some plays and then certainly in training camp.