The Broncos seem to have finally found their next franchise QB in Drew Lock, along with a really good defense with defensive guru and head coach, Vic Fangio.
The Broncos were busy this offseason as they focused on their offense and surrounding Drew Lock with talent. They have seen some big additions into the offense, but some losses did come along the way.
Key Additions: RB Melvin Gordon, G Graham Glasgow, DL Jurrell Casey, DL Christian Covington, CB A.J. Bouye, TE Nick Vannett, P Sam Martin, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR K.J. Hamler, and C Lloyd Cushenberry
Key Departures: QB Joe Flacco, RB Devontae Booker, RB Theo Riddick, G Connor McGovern, G Ronald Leary, DL Derek Wolfe, DL Adam Gotsis, CB Chris Harris, CB Cyrus Jones, and S Will Parks
Let’s dive into the roster of one of the Chiefs biggest rivals.
Starter: Drew Lock
Drew Lock came in and started the Broncos final five games of the 2019 and showed flashes of becoming the next franchise QB for
Denver. In his five starts, Lock threw for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. Expect a lot out of Lock this year as his arsenal got a major boost with the additions of WRs Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in April’s draft.
This is a team that has struggled to find a franchise QB since the retirement of Peyton Manning and the search looks to be over with Lock, who was a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Starter: Melvin Gordon III
Key Reserves: Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman
The RB position in my opinion is the Broncos top strength for this season. With the signing of Melvin Gordon, Denver has created a really good duo out of the backfield. Over his past 53 games, Gordon has scored in 47 of those games. He has shown his touchdown-making ability and looks to continue it in the orange in blue this year.
The other half of the duo, Phillip Lindsay, enters his third season and is going to be a key piece in the offense as he started his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons to begin his career. His role will change a little bit this year as I see him being used as a change of pace back.
Starters: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and K.J. Hamler
Key Reserves: Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, and Tyrie Cleveland
The Broncos draft strategy was focused heavily on the WR position. They used their first and second round picks on Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, giving Lock his No. 2 receiver and potential No. 3 receiver going into this season. Denver also drafted Tyrie Cleveland in the seventh round.
The top contributor from last season, Courtland Sutton, is coming off a career season in his second year, eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving for the first time and six touchdowns. His production in 2019, led to his first Pro Bowl selection. Sutton is going to be the top target for Lock and is going to be a big piece in the offense this year.
There will be a competition for the No. 3 receiver spot between Hamler, Tim Patrick, and DaeSean Hamilton. Hamler has terrific size and speed that can give him an edge to gain more playing time early on.
The wide receiver group in Denver is young, and it shows as none of their top contributors have more than two seasons of NFL experience. However, the core possesses a ton of talent and potential.
Starter: Noah Fant
Key Reserves: Nick Vannett, Albert Okwuegbunam, and Jeff Heuerman
The TE position is loaded for the Broncos. First-round draft pick in 2019, Noah Fant, enters his second season after a solid rookie campaign, posting over 500 receiving yards and three scores.
The Broncos drafted Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round of April’s draft. Lock and Okwuegbunam have an immediate connection from their time as teammates at Missouri.
Heuerman and Vannett are going to compete for the TE3 spot, which will likely be the final spot at the TE position. The youth from Fant and Okwuegbunam bring a lot of potential and talent to Lock’s arsenal, while Heuerman and Vannett will look to be the veteran of the group.
Starters: Garrett Bolles (LT), Dalton Risner (LG), Lloyd Cushenberry (C), Graham Glasgow (RG), and Ja’Wuan James (RT)
The Broncos made it another priority to beef up the offensive line to protect Drew Lock. In free agency, the Broncos added G Graham Glasgow, providing a major boost at the right guard position.
In the draft, the Broncos found a steal in former LSU lineman, Lloyd Cushenberry. He was drafted in the third round and will immediately compete for the starting job at center. I believe he will take the starting job as he was one of the best options at center in the draft.
Dalton Risner, the Broncos second-round pick in 2019, proved to be a key piece on the o-line and is going to be one oft heir top guys for years to come. He rounds out the interior line, which is looking pretty strong for Denver this year.
Ju’Wuan James enters his second season in the orange and blue. Last year, he only played in three games. However, his time with Miami proved he can be a serviceable piece at RT.
The question comes at LT. Garrett Bolles has struggled since the start of his career. The former first round pick has had at least 10 penalties in all three of his seasons. His struggles have led the Broncos to decline his fifth-year option. This is his last chance to prove his worth or there will be a change at LT.
Starters: Jurrell Casey (DE), Mike Purcell (NT), Shelby Harris (DE)
The Broncos added to their defensive line early on this offseason, trading a seventh-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for five-time Pro Bowler, Jurrell Casey. Over his nine-year career, Casey has 51 sacks and 115 QB Hits. He brings another pass-rushing presence alongside Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Mike Purcell is coming off a career season as he set a career-high in tackles and tackles for loss. Purcell is a big presence at the nose tackle position and looks to remain a strong defender against the run.
Shelby Harris resigned with Broncos after coming off a career season himself. Last year, he set career-highs in sacks, tackles, and passes defensed. He will look to continue his production and improvement this season.
Starters: Von Miller (OLB), Todd Davis (ILB), Alexander Johnson (ILB), and Bradley Chubb (OLB)
Another position that is a top strength for the Broncos is at linebacker. Von Miller is one of the best outside LBs in the entire league. He is the leader of the defense and a true NFL superstar. Over his nine-year career, Miller has proved to be durable as well as he has missed only nine games. In seven of his nine seasons, Miller has over 10 sacks and has been recognized for his play, being selected to eight Pro Bowls and three Firat-Team All-Pro selections as well.
Bradley Chubb is coming off a season pending ACL injury. In his rookie season, he showed extreme talent and a dangerous complement to Miller. In his rookie year, he had 12 sacks and 60 tackles, and looks to bounce back from his injury and be a key contributor to the defense.
With the OLB positions really strong and scary for opposing QBs, the ILBs bring a ton of physicality and tackling ability. Last year, Alexander Johnson recorded 93 tackles in 15 games and Todd Davis is coming off his second straight 100-tackle season, including a career-high 134 lat year.
The LB group for the Broncos is one of the best in the league and is going to be crucial in the success of the entire defense this year.
Starters: A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan
The Broncos did not just make a trade to improve the defensive line, but also made a trade to boost the cornerback group. The Broncos acquired A.J. Bouye from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fourth-round pick. With the loss of Chris Harris Jr., the addition of Bouye makes up for the departure.
Bouye was a big piece in the Jaguars defense that was the key in their AFC Championship run in 2017. That year, he recorded six interceptions and 18 passes defensed. Over his career, Bouye has 14 interceptions and 66 passes defensed.
On the other side, Bryce Callahan will take the starting role. Since signing a contract with the Broncos, Callahan has not played a down for the team. However, he played for Fangio when he was Defensive Coordinator in Chicago. In his last two seasons with the Bears, Callahan made a name for himself with four interceptions and 12 passes defensed. Hopefully, he gets healthy and can return to action in 2020.
Starters: Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson
The Broncos have one of the best safety tandems in the league as they return second-team All-Pro, Justin Simmons, and Pro Bowl alternate, Kareem Jackson.
Justin Simmons exploded last year and became one of the league’s top safeties. He intercepted four passes, while recording an additional 15 passes defensed and 93 tackles. His play rewarded him the franchise tag for now, but John Elway wants to lock Simmons up long term.
Kareem Jackson joined the Broncos last year after playing his first nine seasons in Houston with the Texans. In his first year in Denver, he record two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, and 71 tackles.
Jackson and Simmons are going to be crucial parts to the defense as the Broncos look to take advantage of the new Wild Card spot.
The Broncos are primed to make a jump this season. If Drew Lock can continue to impress, especially with his new and improved arsenal, then the offense could be really good. The defense has been one of the league’s strongest for the past few years and looks to stay that way with Bradley Chubb returning to pair with Von Miller and a terrific safety tandem. The Broncos could make some noise and make the playoffs as a wild card.