There is a lot of talk about where we are good as a team, and where we are excellent. Some talk is about being cautious (Styg50's excellent piece on Boss Bailey and the depth behind him at SAM).
But I want to focus on a few tidbits about our WRs that should make us pretty darned confident for '08. Consider this post another preview to the excellent series upcoming from MHR leader Guru, where he'll look in his crystal ball and tell us how the roster shakes out, position by position. We'll sure need his help on this one!
Consider the following:
Marshall. We know how good he is. He is powerful enough to fight for the ball, has great hands, and has the power to pick up yards after the reception. He is hard to bring down. He isn't the fastest WR, but how many CBs can bring this guy down on the first contact?
Colbert. Not convinced about how good this guy really is? Read this! Shanahan sounds like he is ready to start the guy opposite Marshall today! Shanahan makes references to both McCaffrey and Smith when discussing Colbert, and praises him even higher than Jackson (a favorite of a lot of the MHR faithful).
Jackson. The article that propelled Jackson into the hearts of MHR readers was written by Super7. There we read that Jackson is better than Javon Walker, and the article is convincing!
Stokley. Now we all know that Colbert and Jackson are fighting for the #2 spot. Stokley is considered one of the best slot receivers in the game, and more than held his own filling in for oft injured Walker at #1. There is only a tiny segment of the NFL that features nickel CBs that can match up with Stokley, and none of them outperform him. Frightening!
Royal. 2nd round draft pick. Not on the radar of many MHR fans before the draft, and when he was taken he was considered a PR or possibly a KR specialist. Not for long. There are several good fanposts and stories that mention how Royal has surprised the coaching staff, and is getting a closer look. He has more speed than the other WRs we're talking about here, and is the youngest. The only question is, is he built to take the punishment of every down (not in my humble opinion), or is he the long term answer when Stokley moves on? EIther way, this kid looks like he has a safe future with Denver, and may be part of a very special, very elite WR group of three.
Martinez. Looks ordinary compared to the list above. But he can return punts or kicks if needed, and filled in for Stokley (while Stokley filled in for Walker), so he has experience. Has decent speed, but average hands and moves.
Now here's the tough part. How many of these guys do you keep on the roster? We have six names, and that's too many. The practice squad won't protect any of these guys from being taken by another team. Odds are we keep five, and Martinez is out. That leaves us with a potential #2 (if you believe some of the hype) at #5!
Marshall is our number one. He's safe. Whether you like Colbert or Jackson, how do you get rid of either? At worst, one of them has to be an awesome back-up. Stokley isn't going anywhere. Now we already have four WRs! You must, must, must keep Royal! He's our STs' hope in the return game! At worst you have to consider him the back-up and heir to Stokley (and some at MHR want him to start as a #2!).
Martinez is likely out then, but if Royal somehow doesn't work out as a returner (and returners often don't work out, even after looking incredible in drafts), then you've lost the other player that could likely do the job. I still say Martinez goes, but consider how much depth we have when we would really like to keep our #6!
Not too long ago I wrote a piece where I gave the Broncos a "moderate improvement" score for upgrading the WRs. But the way it looks now from what we see at camp, the score should be "Legendary Improvement"!
Cutler's improved OL, his elite team of TEs, his RB group, and even his new possibilities at FB look great. But with this many top notch WRs, and with his diabetes now diagnosed and under control, the offense is cleared for takeoff.
Bronco haters? Be afraid. Be very afraid!