Denver Broncos NFL Season Preview: Will the new faces equal more wins?

The Denver Broncos have spent the offseason upgrading multiple positions across the roster. Especially at the skill positions. Will the new faces equal more wins?

The talk of the offseason about the Denver Broncos was as usual, centered around the quarterback. You had pundits like Colin Cowherd touting him as the next Sophomore-MVP following in the footsteps of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. Other’s like USA Today are more tepid with a predicted record of 9-7 with a Wild-Card birth. I stand more with USA Today than Colin:

All the optimism stems from Drew Lock and company finishing the 2019 season on a 4-1 hot streak. Where Drew lock found 4 different different ways to wing games both on the road and home. The defense began to gel and show that Fangio genius of creating turnover opportunities with pure scheme. The sole loss Drew Lock has on his record came from the future Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the middle of a snow storm, in Arrowhead. 

This optimism has me happy to take this bonus offer from FanDuel (Sign-up link here) for all Colorado bettors, believing not only will I get the free $5 dollars per win, I believe the Futures bet is fairly safe. As I do expect the Broncos to make the playoffs with the expanded playoffs:

This article will not contain my week-by-week predictions (that will come later). This is more about taking a 5,000 ft. view of the roster and who I believe will make the final cuts come September 5, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. EST. This is a bittersweet day in the NFL as some will realize a dream they had since they were as young as 5 and took the field for the first time. While others will have their entire world crushed. 

So lets dive into it, who will be those achievers? And who will be the crushed? Here we start with the most important position in all of sports. There is no “Official Depth Chart” in the offseason, so all of these rankings are solely of my own beliefs of how things will shake out:

OFFENSE:

Current Roster Count: 76

Quarterback:

Depth Chart:
  1. Drew Lock
  2. Jeff Driskel*
  3. Brett Rypien

There is no competition here outside of Brett possibly having an outside chance of replacing  Jeff as the backup after spending a year on the practice squad last season. But when you add in the fact there was no pre-season this year, and no team has gotten a look at Rypien to see how he has improved, he is a prime candidate for the practice squad again so the Broncos can keep all 3 with the uncertainty COVID-19 has caused. Drew Lock is your unquestioned starter. Rypien will be cut. Driskell will be the back up.

Cuts: Brett Rypien(PS)

New Roster Count: 75

Running Back:

Depth Chart:
  1. Melvin Gordon III*
  2. Phillip Lindsay
  3. Royce Freeman
  4. Lavante Bellamy***
  5. Jeremy Cox

The Denver Broncos made a surprise late move in free-agency and signed Melvin Gordon to an $8 million per-year deal after Elway sent smoke signals about a Lindsay pay bump. I do have Melvin above him simply because of the pay disparity, Phillip is on a undrafted free-agent minimum deal of $750,000 for 2020 according to Spotrac. But I will never count the Tazmanian Devil out, a nickname he affectionately earned in college at the University of Colorado where he never missed a game in 51 tries.

He has already beat out much more highly touted recruits (Michael Adkins II), and Super Bowl winning NFL incumbents (C.J. Anderson). Never count the kid out. The incumbents all get to stay this time though as Bellamy and Cox look primed for the practice squad due to the same no pre-season games, and coaches raving about the way Freeman has looked in came. Mix in he is a 3rd-round pick while the other 2 are undrafted. And yes, draft pedigree always matters

Cuts:

  1. Levante Bellamy(PS)
  2. Jeremy Cox(PS)

New Roster Count: 73

Fullback:

Depth Chart:

None.

The Denver Broncos traded the fan-favorite and sole fullback on the roster, Andy Janovich, to the Cleveland Browns for a 6th-rounder shortly after Pat Shurmur was hired as the new Offensive-Coordinator. Andrew Beck is on the roster as a tight-end that doubles as an h-back. Something he did most of last season when Andy Janovich was hurt at a decent level. Shurmur rarely uses a 2-back set, so it would have been a wasted roster spot and save the almost $1.3 million owed to Andy. He will be sorely missed by Broncos Country though.

Cuts: N/A

New Roster Count: 73

Wide Receiver: 

Depth Chart:
  1. Courtland Sutton
  2. Jerry Jeudy**
  3. Tim Patrick
  4. DaeSean Hamilton
  5. KJ Hamler(Injured)**
  6. Tyrie Cleveland**
  7. Fred Brown
  8. Juwan Winfree
  9. Trinity Benson
  10. Diontae Spencer
  11. Kendall Hinton***
  12. Cody White

The Broncos carried Diontae Spencer as a return specialist after signing him off the waiver wire from Pittsburgh at roster-cuts last year. With how much the Broncos invested into this position via the draft(3 total selections). Leads me to believe they will require a lot more than being a one-trick pony to make the roster when there is only room for roughly half the players currently on the roster. 

With Shurmur rarely using 2-TE sets and no true FB on the roster, they could squeeze out a 7th roster spot for a WR. As Shurmur loves his 3 and 4-WR sets. I believe they do just that. Juwan Winfree flashes promise when he’s on the field, he was the talk of camp in 2019. Problem is, getting him to game day healthy. Spencer is no longer needed as Tyrie Cleveland and his draft pedigree with a good size/speed combo mixed with return ability will make him obsolete. There have even been reports that have Cleveland working with the 1st team at times over the last week. The Broncos are very high on the 7th-round pick. 

Cuts: 

  1. Trinity Benson(PS)
  2. Kendall Hinton(PS)
  3. Juwan Winfree
  4. Diontae Spencer
  5. Cody White(PS)

New Roster Count: 68

Tight-Ends:

Depth Chart:
  1. Noah Fant
  2. Nick Vannett*
  3. Albert Okwuegbunum**
  4. Jake Butt
  5. Andrew Beck
  6. Troy Fumagalli

Noah Fant is the unquestioned starter after a 40 catch 562 yd. 3 TD rookie season. All 3 lead all rookie TE’s and set Broncos rookie TE records in all but TD’s. Vannett is the new FA addition with the highest contract. And Albert Okwuegbunum is the 4th-round athletic freak. Albert ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 at the Scouting Combine at 6’5″/258 lbs.. It also doesn’t hurt that he was personally endorsed by his former Tiger and current Broncos teammate Drew Lock before he was drafted.

Jake Butt is getting praise at camp, but after 2 straight yrs. landing on the IR and the versatility of Andrew Beck will end his comeback attempt in Denver. A lot of people assume the Broncos will only keep 3-TE’s, and while in the traditional sense they are correct, Andrew Beck will log more time as a H-back and on special teams than at TE.

Cuts:

  1. Jake Butt
  2. Troy Fumagalli(PS)

New Roster Count: 66

Left-Tackle:

Depth Chart:
  1. Garret Bolles
  2. Jake Rodgers
  3. Hunter Watts***
  4. Quinn Bailey

The Denver Broncos training camp was supposed to include a battle for the LT spot between Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson. But then Ja’Wuan James opted out of the 2020 season for COVID-19 related reasons. That made Elijah move back over the the RT spot as the starter there to replace James. This removed any and all competition here. Bolles will start, Jake will back him up as he can kick inside to guard in a pinch, and Watts will go to the practice squad for further Munchak tutelage. 

Cuts:

  1. Hunter Watts(PS)
  2. Quinn Bailey

New Roster Count: 64

Left Guard:

Depth Chart:
  1. Dalton Risner
  2. Austin Schlottman

The ability for both these men, RG Graham Glasgow, and the aforementioned Wilkinson to play at least 3 positions on the offensive line make the need for depth here minimal. Schlottman is a pet project of O-Line Coach Mike Munchak. And Dalton Risner has a fitting last name as he is a star on the rise. Both make the 53-man roster.

Cuts:

None.

New Roster Count: 64

Center:

Depth Chart:
  1. Lloyd Cushenberry III**
  2. Patrick Morris

Both players here as well can play all 3 interior o-line positions. Cushenberry was a steal in the 3rd-round as I and many more were stumping for him to be chosen where the Denver Broncos took KJ Hamler at the top of the 2nd-round. He’s going nowhere. Patrick Morris is another Mike Munchak disciple spending time off-and-on the practice squad the last couple years. This is where the expanded game day rosters from 46-48 first comes into play. One of those 2 extra players has to be a O-lineman. Morris and his versatility is what makes him that extra player.

Cuts:

None.

New Roster Count: 64

Right Guard:

Depth Chart:
  1. Graham Glasgow*
  2. Natane Muti**

Graham Glasgow was the Broncos biggest FA expenditure with a 4-yr. $44 million deal. That pretty much guarantees a starting spot, not just a roster spot. Muti was another steal in the 6th-round in the ilk of Cushenberry. His drop is due to injury though. Netane suffered multiple lower body injuries in college, including to end his senior yr. He will be another practice-squad or even possibly IR w/designation to return as a way to save from putting him on waiver-wires and risk losing the immense talent that is there if he can only get and stay healthy. It’s a cliche for a reason, “Your best ability, is availability.” And the versatility of all those mentioned before 

Cuts:

  1. Netane Muti(PS/IR)

New Roster Count: 63

Right Tackle:

Depth Chart:
  1. Elijah Wilkinson
  2. Demar Dotson*
  3. Calvin Anderson

As mention before, Elijah was supposed to compete for the LT position with Bolles. Ja’Wuan James opting-out scrapped that plan and now has created a competition at RT between Wilkinson and Dotson. Demar was a late signing due to said James opt-out. He was a cap casualty and will more than likely take over the starting role before game 1 against Tennessee. That leaves Calvin Anderson as the odd-man out.

Cuts:

  1. Calvin Anderson

New Roster Count: 62

Key:

  1. *-2020 Free-Agent
  2. **-2020 Draft Pick
  3. ***-2020 Undrafted Free-Agent
  • Now we that we have what we believe to be the regular season roster offensively for the Denver Broncos. Lets take a look at some Futures from FanDuel. Make sure to get your up-to $500 risk free bet for all new customers now:

  • The line for the aforementioned Denver Broncos Drought Bonus from FanDuel with the line for “Yes” that has been boosted to +210 from +180:
  • If you want to take the long shot FanDuel has the Denver Broncos at +6000 to win it all:
  • Now if you want to follow the Colin Cowherd camp, FanDuel has Drew Lock at +5500 for MVP:
  • Looking for a Denver Broncos-centric AP Offensive Player of the Year pick? Currently Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton are your options with FanDuel at even longer odds than Drew Lock for MVP:

DEFENSE:

Current Roster Count: 62

Left Defensive End:

  1. Jurrell Casey*
  2. Christian Covington*
  3. Demarcus Walker

The starter here is without question Jurell Casey as he was the direct replacement for Derek Wolfe to pair with Von Miller on the strong-side of the defense. Christian was a veteran signing to push DeMarcus in his last chance to prove he is not another Elway 2nd-round bust. The fact I have heard rave reviews regarding covington, and nothing regarding DeMarcus leads me to believe he did not respond as they would have liked. I didn’t like the pick with him being much more suited for a 4-3 defense he thrived at in college at Florida State. Even though Christian has made a good impression, a numbers crunch on the deepest position on the roster sends him packing as well. 

Cuts:

  1. DeMarcus Walker
  2. Christian Covington

Current Roster Count: 60

Defensive Tackle:

  1. Mike Purcell
  2. DeShawn Williams
  3. McTelvim Agim**

Purcell and Williams are the only true 3-4 DT’s on the roster. Agim and Casey are more 4-3 penetrators or 3-4 DE’s. This has me believing Agim is moved to DE on the final roster and no cuts are made here.

Cuts:

None

Current Roster Count: 60

Right Defensive End:

  1. Shelby Harris
  2. Dre’Mont Jones

This is an easy one, neither will go. Shelby was signed to a 1-year deal as insurance incase Dre’Mont wasn’t ready. By all accounts, the 2nd-year pro has been dominant and looked the part of a future starter. Harris’ veteran status and pay will hold him off to start the season, but for how long? This is the same player that pulled off a Player of the Week honor in ’19 for a 3-sack performance against the Detroit Lions. Another position with no cuts.

Cuts:

None

Current Roster Count: 60

LOLB:

  1. Von Miller
  2. Jeremiah Attaochu
  3. Malik Carney

It has already been announced that the back-ups to the Miller/Chubb duo is going to be Jeremiah and Malik Reed. So makes this one easy.

Cuts:

  1. Malik Carney

Current Roster Count: 59

MLB:

  1. Alexander Johnson
  2. Todd Davis
  3. Mark Barron*
  4. Josey Jewell
  5. Justin Hollins
  6. Joe Jones
  7. Josh Watson

The biggest need left on this defense is an athletic middle linebacker. With the whispers of Denver trying to move back into the bottom of the 1st-round in this years draft to get Patrick Queen cements this. Yet they did next to nothing to upgrade this roster spot outside of Justin Strnad in the 5th-round. And signing veteran Mark Barron after Strnad was put on season ending IR. The unquestioned starters are Johnson and Davis. Marks newly signed contract and multiple injuries at the position guarantee him a spot. Same with Hollins’ versatility. There is only room for 4, so the rest must go.

Cuts:

  1. Josey Jewell
  2. Joe Jones
  3. Josh Watson(PS)

Current Roster Count: 56

ROLB:

  1. Bradley Chubb
  2. Malik Reed
  3. Derek Tuzka**

Tuzka is a ’19 7th-rounder, but like with ROLB, the back-up has already been announced.

Cuts:

  1. Derek Tuszka(PS)

Current Roster Count: 55

Cornerback:

  1. A.J. Bouye
  2. Bryce Callahan
  3. De’Vante Bausby
  4. Davontae Harris
  5. Michael Ojemudia
  6. Duke Dawson
  7. Essang Bassey

This is another easy one to call as the only cut that was likely was done through trade. As Denver sent Isaac Yiadom to the NY Giants for a ’21 7th-rounder. The only real competition left is between Dawson and Bassey. From what I have seen and heard is Bassey is being looked at like the next Chris Harris Jr. the only one left on this list I have heard anything negative about is Duke Dawson. This leaves him as the odd man out to me.

Cuts:

  1. Duke Dawson

Current Roster Count: 54

Free Safety:

  1. Justin Simmons
  2. Douglas Coleman III
  3. Alijah Holder

Simmons is the unquestioned starter and Coleman is a potential undrafted gem. Holder’s injuries throughout camp most likely cost him his roster spot. But he is PS eligible with a few slots left. IR is also an option after all the camp injuries. 

Cuts:

  1. Alijah Holder(IR/PS)

Current Roster Count: 53

Strong Safety:

  1. Kareem Jackson
  2. Trey Marshall
  3. P.J. Locke

Just like Simmons, Kareem is the unquestioned starter. Trey Marshall has been getting rave reviews again in camp and has a year in Fangio’s zone-heavy scheme. This gives him the leg up on P.J. Locke.

Cuts:

  1. P.J. Locke

Current Roster Count: 52

Kicker:

  1. Brandon McManus

Punter: 

  1. Sam Morris

Long-Snapper:

  1. Jacob Bobenmoyer

I know this leaves the Denver Broncos 1 shy of the roster max, this is done on purpose as there is almost always at least one slot opened by every team as they scout the waiver-wire looking for the next diamond in the rough another team let slip through their fingers.

Next up will be some weekly predictions/picks. In the meantime you can get more NFL content from the all the experts at American Betting Experts here.

 

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