With OTA’s and minicamp in the books, we are entering the most boring time of the calendar year for the Broncos. Quite frankly, the only time any breaking news emerges from late June to early-mid July, it’s always for the wrong reason. So let’s all knock on wood and hope that none of the Broncos do anything to grab our attention until training camp starts.
In the meantime, now is as good a time as any to take a crack at what the Broncos’ final 53-man roster will look like. Let’s get to it.
Quarterbacks (3): Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly
No surprises here. Regardless of who wins the vaunted quarterback duel between Siemian and Lynch, they’ll both be on the roster. As for Chad Kelly, he’s the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, his nickname is Swag Kelly and he is constantly trolled by Mia Khalifa. I’d say Mr. Irrelevant is worth keeping around based on entertainment value alone.
Running Backs (4): C.J. Anderson, Jamaal Charles, Devontae Booker, De’Angelo Henderson
Nothing mind-boggling here either. If Jamaal Charles has anything left in the tank, then the potential of him scoring on the Chiefs and celebrating with the Mile High Salute is far too enticing to pass up (no tears taste better than Chef tears). And given both his and C.J.’s issues with durability, I’d say the Broncos are definitely going to need some reinforcements when those two go down. Hopefully Booker will be a better fit in the new offense than he was in Gary Kubiak’s, and I have a feeling that De’Angelo Henderson is going to be a training camp star. It may be hard for the Broncos to sneak him onto their practice squad, as some others have predicted.
Fullback (1): Andy Janovich
The man. The myth. The Manovich! There may not be a lot of room in today’s NFL for fullbacks, but Mike McCoy will find a spot in his offense for the second-year player. The legend of Janovich will continue in 2017.
Wide Receivers (6): Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Carlos Henderson, Isaiah McKenzie, Cody Latimer, Jordan Taylor
Now here is where things start to get interesting. The Broncos invested heavily at wide receiver in the draft, banking on the potential of both Carlos Henderson and McKenzie. In a perfect world, those two add explosiveness to the offense and to special teams (there’s that juice again!). In an imperfect world, or aka the one we live in, something goes wrong. Carlos pulls a hammie. McKenzie develops a case of the fumbles, a la Trindon Holliday. And the Broncos are going to need someone else to turn to.
Jordan Taylor has a habit of stealing the show in August, convincing the Broncos’ brass to keep him around the past two years. And quite honestly, Taylor is going to require an equally excellent tryout this summer if he wants to stick on the roster. Why him and not Cody Latimer, you ask? Well, despite Latimer’s shortcomings as a receiver (you know, a whopping 16 receptions in three seasons), the dude is a special teams stud. And with Kayvon Webster joining forces with Wade Phillips in Hollywood, the Broncos’ special teams are going to need all the help they can get.
Which leaves Bennie Fowler as the odd man out. Sucks for him but hey, at least he got to catch Peyton Manning’s LAST pass. That will be a great story for his grandchildren someday.
Tight Ends (3): A.J. Derby, Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt.
No Virgil Green at tight end? That may seem kind of crazy at first, but pull up a chair for a second and let’s talk about it. Is it really that far-fetched of an idea?
First off, it doesn’t take an expert analyst to know that the Broncos’ tight ends had a very minimal impact last year. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest factors that contributed to the ineptitude of the offense, as there just weren’t any playmakers in the passing game outside of DT and Emmanuel Sanders. And for all the talk of Virgil one day becoming a good receiving tight end, here we are entering his seventh season in the league and that has yet to transpire.
Now he does have a reputation as the Broncos’ best blocking tight end, but in this scenario we’re going heavy at running back and receiver, plus there are three young tight ends with more potential already on the roster. I don’t think Virgil’s blocking is going to save him this year.
Offensive Line (9): Garrett Bolles, Ty Sambrailo, Max Garcia, Matt Paradis, Connor McGovern, Ronald Leary, Michael Schofield, Menelik Watson, Donald Stephenson
Barring injuries, it would be a pretty big shock if this wasn’t the group that the Broncos counted on to produce a better offensive line. They usually carry nine and to me, the only guy truly on the bubble is Stephenson. I don’t think there’s anyone else who can bump him off the roster, which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
Defensive line (6): Derek Wolfe, Domata Peko, Adam Gotsis, DeMarcus Walker, Zach Kerr and Jared Crick
Kyle Peko’s injury this week will set him back in his quest to make the roster, but even if he were healthy I don’t like his chances. His cousin Domata and Kerr were the Broncos’ top two free agent pickups on defense, Walker was drafted to be the new Malik Jackson and while Crick was a disaster as a starter last year (he’s an atrocious run defender), he can still provide value as a rotational pass rusher. Suffice to say, Kyle is gonna have his work cut out for him during training camp.
Six may seem like a shallow number for the entire defensive line, but keep in mind that the Broncos run plenty of sets where only two linemen are on the field at a time. I think they’ll do just fine with that group.
Outside Linebackers (4): Von Miller, Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett, and Kasim Edebali
Shaq Barrett’s status come September could shake this position up a little bit, as the Broncos may not feel comfortable rolling into the season with only three healthy pass rushers. That would be great news for Vontarrius Dora, who made a lot of big plays during the preseason last year. If Shaq is good to go, then I give the edge to the veteran Edebali, even though for some reason he is listed as a defensive end on the Broncos’ website.
Inside Linebackers (4): Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis, Corey Nelson and Zaire Anderson
Yes, the Broncos will be bringing back the same group from last year. Yes, the Broncos drafted Garrett Bolles over Reuben Foster. And no, I don’t think John Lynch would just give Foster to us if John Elway threatened to take away Lynch’s spot in the Ring of Fame. But it’s worth a try! Someone get Elway on the phone, now!
Cornerback (5): Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby, Lorenzo Doss and Brendan Langley
Life is all about perspective. For example, Brendan Langley was a third-round pick this year. Even though he’s a bit raw, big things are expected from him eventually, hence the Broncos picking him up on day 2 of the draft. And yet, he is currently the fifth-best corner on the team. That is an embarrassment of riches if I’ve ever seen one, and another reason why we are fortunate to be fans of this team. Any one of our top three corners would be no. 1 on the depth chart of most other teams in the league. Perspective, everyone. Perspective.
Safety (5): T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart, Justin Simmons, Will Parks and Jamal Carter
If there is going to be an undrafted free agent who makes this team, my money is on Jamal Carter out of Miami. I’ve never seen him play and didn’t even know who he was until the Broncos picked him up, but John Elway gave him a whopping $20,000 in guarantees. That’s a lot for an undrafted rookie who may not even make the team. The Duke doesn’t throw that type of money around unless he really wants someone, so Carter must have a lot of ability. Plus he has a good name for a safety.
Special Teams (3): Brandon McManus, Riley Dixon and Casey Kreiter
I had to look up who our long snapper is. I suppose that’s a good thing, right? The only reason your long snapper usually stands out is if he’s screwing up his job, so Kreiter must be pretty darn good.
And there ya go, ladies and germs. My way too early thoughts on the final 53. Disagree with me? Let me know!