Have we improved as a team since last year? It's clearly too early to tell. Every fan of every team feels they are better off after the draft, and I'm no different. But I still want to do a comparison, and see what other rabid fans think. So without further ado...
Cutler did very well last year, breaking the top ten in most analysts opinions and in only his first full year. Now consider this: He did it with an untreated illness (losing weight the entire time), he did it with two OL on injured reserve, he did it missing his number one WR, he did it missing his top three RBs for most of the season. Not bad at all.
Now his diabetes is under treatment and control, he has another year of experience, and the team starts healthy. This should be a spectacular year for Jay.
Behind Jay are thesame two back-ups. Perhaps Hackney passes Ramsey in the depth chart.
QB - Strong improvement
Henry gets a new start, and he may or may not suffer from injuries again. But Young is bulking up in the hopes of increased playing time, Hall has more experience, and newcomer Torrain is another possibility to take up the slack if Henry takes a fall. Sheer odds tell us that we won't get swamped with injuries again, but the extra rookie RB shores up the depth.
RB - Slight improvement
The OL has been upgraded in a major way. Clady likely takes over as Denver's answer at LT for years to come. Nalen and Hamilton return. Holland likely starts at RG, while Kuper or Harris take RT. Back-ups likely include Pears, the loser of Harris / Kuper, Wiegmann, and K-Lich. The front five are improved, and the back-ups look more than capable. The only question is, how many can we keep on the roster?
OL - Strong improvement
Scheffler and Graham are back for a terrific match-up of receiving and blocking. Scheff's foot is still giving him problems, but the team seems to be on top of it. Mustard showed he can catch (as well as block) at the end of last year, and Jackson is a reliable receiving back-up. No improvement, no loss, but breaking even on an already solid group of TEs.
TE - Even
We lost an excellent receiver in Walker. Call him injury prone, and call him a whiner, but he was a very good threat on the field in my opinion. But we still have Marshall, who's making a name for himself. We still have Stokely, one of the best slot receivers in the game. And now we've brought in the best depth Denver has ever had at WR, with rookie Royal and FAs Jackson, Colbert, and Parker.
WR - Moderate improvement
Sapp is still in the mix. Now add a true FB rookie (Hillis), and Denver shows a new interest in perhaps getting away from RB/FB hybrids and moving towards FB specialists.
FB - Moderate improvement
The heart of last year's woes. Thomas is expected to continue improving, DRob has been brought in, and rookie Powell may be an improvement. Add in McKinley, who can hold his own in rotation, and the DT position has a much better chance than last year.
DT - Moderate improvement
Doom returns with more experience as does Crowder, and Moss returns from injury to prove his high draft pick worth. Eck returns from injury. An already good DE unit comes back healthier than last year, and that can only be good.
DE - Strong improvement
DJ moves to his favorite position. Boss comes in as an experienced SAM, and K2 likely brings the leadership in the middle the team needs. We won't know how good they are until they hit the field, but they are likely an improvement over what we had last year. At worst, last year's starters are probably back-ups if things go wrong.
LB - Moderate improvement
Same four starters, plus a rookie J-Williams. It's hard to improve on eliteness.
CB - Even
Denver gets rid of Ferguson, and keeps Hamza and Lynch. In reserve (or competing for starting positions) are McRee and McDaniel. As with FB, Denver stops the hybrid program and brings in true position players. Barrett (rookie) is an exciting wild card.
SAF - Moderate improvement
These are just my quick thoughts off the top of my head. I'm sure there is some agreement / disagreement out there. What does everyone else think?
Going into the regular season, Guru writes a wonderful series on each position, giving his breakdown of each position and how he thinks the camp and preseason position battles will go. Now is the time to start thinking about these battles, and to be ready for a treat of a series. Start getting your thoughts in order by considering the depth chart and the roster with this small fanpost, then be ready to chime in when Guru raises the curtain!