Not long ago, I wrote an article called "Denver Broncos Talentless? I Think Not." In that article, I suggested that the Broncos might not be quite as devoid of talent as many experts might have us believe. That article was written with two games left. I have since chosen to question my original optimism. This soul searching came, in part, after reading an article by Jeff Legwold -- a regular contributor to the Denver Post.
Legwold recently wrote an article called "Talent-deprived Broncos facing major makeover" for the Denver Post. In this article, he presented a look at the level of talent (or lack thereof) on the 2010 Broncos. I would urge you to check out his article. It is, IMHO, well written and thoughtful.
Part of what he presented was the intriguing idea of sorting the players on the roster according to talent level. This led me to think it might be fun to make my own attempt to sort the Broncos players. Legwold shared several players as examples, sorted into four categories. My article will sort all fifty-three players on the active roster -- as posted on denverbroncos.com -- plus the eight players currently listed as being on the practice squad and the nine players on injured reserve.
Take a moment to read Legwold's article, then take the jump with me, see where I placed players --based mostly on my own subjective "eye test," and then offer your own ideas.
1)Best of the Best - these are players that I see as being among the best at their position in relation to the entire NFL.
2)Worth Keeping - these are players that I see as being solid starter quality players, though they may not be "elite."
3)Good for Depth/Situational Play - this should be pretty self-explanatory, good backups, but not necessarily every down players.
4)Has the Potential - players who have shown "flashes" but have not played enough to be considered in the higher categories.
5)Worth a Look - these are largely players who have had little or no playing time and/or are on the practice squad
6)Pink Slip - these are the players that I see as needing to be off the team come 2011.
|WR||Brandon Lloyd||1448 yds, 18.8 ave, 11 TDs||#1 in yards in NFL, 5th in yards per catch, 4th in TDs, 2nd in 20+ plays, 2nd in First Downs|
|K||Matt Prater||16/18 FG, 10/10 1-39 yds, 14/15 1-49 yds||Only question that I have is how well he'll bounce back from his season-ending injury|
|QB||Kyle Orton||58.8%, 3653 yds, 7.3 ypa, 20 TD, 9 INT, 34 Sacks||Put together solid stats, needs upgrades in runnin game & defense to shine; could be a starter or backup|
|WR||Eddie Royal||627 yds, 10.6 ave, 3 TD||Was a solid #3 receiver in 2010, bounced back from a 2009 sophomore slump with a solid 2010 performance|
|OL||Ryan Clady||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||As the season went on, he appeared to grow stronger after his off season injury; still have questions as to how well he can bounce back|
|OL||Ryan Harris||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||As the season went on, he appeared to grow stronger after his off season injury; still have questions as to how well he can bounce back|
|OL||Chris Kuper||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||As the season went on, he appeared to grow stronger after his off season injury; still have questions as to how well he can bounce back|
|DL||Kevin Vickerson||42 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 3 passes defensed, 1 INT||Put in a solid performance in limited playing time; plus have to love a DL that intercepts a pass|
|LB||Elvis Dumervil||Spent 2010 on injured reserve||Was the NFL's sack leader in 2009; biggest question will be how he bounces back from his injury|
|LB||D. J. Williams||119 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 9 passes defensed||A solid defensive player, leading tackler on the team; some questions about how well he does in pass coverage|
|CB||Champ Bailey||45 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 3 passes defensed, 1 INT||Still a solid player, but there are questions about whether or not he really wants to stay in Denver|
|P||Britton Colquitt||44.6 average, 19 inside the 20, 7 touchbacks, 17 fair catches, 50 returned for an average of 11 yards per return||Put in a solid performance overall|
|S||Brian Dawkins||66 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 passes defensed, 1 INT||May have slowed a bit with age, but is still a strong, emotional leader on the defense|
|RB||Correll Buckhalter||Rushing 147 yds, 2.5 average, 2 TDs, 10 First Downs, Passing: 240 yds, 8.6 average, 2 TDs, 9 First Downs||Not a primary or every down back, but is a good situation player and excellent as a receiver coming out of the backfield|
|WR||Jabar Gaffney||875 yds, 13.5 average, 2 TDs||Has given way to Lloyd as a primary target, but is still solid as a situational receiver|
|DL||Jamal Williams||47 tackles, 1 pass defensed||Not an every down player, but can still be effective in selected situations|
|DL||Marcus Thomas||35 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defensed||Not an every down player, but can still be effective in selected situations|
|DL||Justin Bannan||35 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 4 passes defensed||Not an every down player, but can still be effective in selected situations|
|LB||Mario Haggan||87 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 1 pass defensed||2nd tackler on team in 2010, good in situational play|
|LB||Jason Hunter||60 tackles, 3 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 2 passes defensed, 1 INT||Led the team in tackles for loss in 2010, good in situational play|
|LS||Lonnie Paxton||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||Was not a popular acquisition in 2009, but has been solid all year long|
|RB||Knowshon Moreno||779 yds, 4.3 average, 5 TDs||Despite missing 3 full games and part of two more, he put up decent numbers; durability is a major question/concern when talking about whether or not he can be an every down back|
|WR||Demaryius Thomas||283 yds, 12.9 average, 2 TDs||As with Moreno, durability is a concern. Thomas has shown flashes when he has had the opportunity|
|OL||J. D. Walton||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||Often looked like the rookie he was, but showed potential on many plays|
|OL||Zane Beadles||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||Often looked like the rookie he was, but showed potential on many plays|
|LB||Robert Ayers||39 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 1 pass defensed||Has shown promise, but needs some other pieces in place on the defense to be able to shine|
|LB||Wesley Woodyard||37 tackles, 1 sack||Has shown the potential to be a solid starter, and has done well as a situational player, needs more playing time to make a stronger judgment|
|LB||Joe Mays||40 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 pass defensed||Was showing strong potential before going down to a season ending injury|
|CB||Syd'Quan Thompson||18 tackles, 4 passes defensed, 2 INTs||Showed some flashes both on defense and in special teams play|
|S||David Bruton||25 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass defensed||Showed some good plays in the limited opportunities he had|
|QB||Tim Tebow||50.0%, 654 yds, 8.0 average, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 6 sacks||Was exciting to watch and show flashes of promise but needs more game time to be able to determine how good he might become|
|RB||Lance Ball||158 yds, 3.9 average||Showed promise in the brief chances he had|
|RB||Brandon Minor||No stats in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|RB||LenDale White||No stats in 2010||Spent the season on Injured Reserve, has the reputation to be a "smash mouth" type of running back, would like to see how he bounces back from his injury and what he can contribute|
|FB||Spencer Larsen||Minimal contributions statistically||Ended the season on Injured Reserve, there are questions about whether or not he can fulfill the role of FB on a consistent basis|
|WR||Britt Davis||No stats in 2010||Might be worth a look in the offseason|
|WR||Eric Decker||106 yds, 17.7 average, 1 TD||Not much exposure, be worth a look due to being 8th on team in receiving yards despite limited playing time|
|WR||Eron Riley||No stats in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|WR||Matthew Willis||17 yards, 17.0 average||Was thought to have promise before going down to injury, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|TE||Dan Gronkowski||65 yards, 8.1 average||Appeared to be solid before going down to injury|
|TE||Daniel Coats||No stats in 2010||Might be worth a look to see what he can do|
|TE||John Nalbone||No stats in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|OL||Jeff Byers||No game time in 2010||Might be worth a look|
|OL||Chris Clark||No game time in 2010||Might be worth a look|
|OL||Eric Olsen||No game time in 2010||Might be worth a look|
|DL||Jeff Stehle||No game time in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|DL||Mitch Unrein||No game time in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|DL||Louis Leonard||No game time in 2010||Might be worth a look|
|LB||David Veikune||Very limited playing time||Made a couple of solid hits, might be worth a look|
|LB||Dominic Douglas||No game time in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|CB||Chevis Jackson||No playing time in 2010||Might be worth a look|
|CB||Nick Polk||No playing time in 2010||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|CB||Cassius Vaughn||Limited playing time in 2010||Showed some flashes of potential as a special teams player|
|S||Kyle McCarthy||4 tackles||Ended season on Injured Reserve, might deserve a shot to show what he can do|
|S||Darcel McBath||17 tackles, 1 pass defensed||Durability is an issue, but he is well worth a longer look|
|RB||Jeremiah Johnson||No playing time in 2010
||Was on the practice squad, deserves a shot to show what he can do|
|QB||Brady Quinn||No stats in 2010||Was brought in to be a veteran backup but failed to earn and keep that position|
|RB||Laurence Maroney||74 yds, 2.1 average||Was brought in due to his knowledge of the offense, but looked tentative and hesitant throughout his runs|
|TE||Daniel Graham||148 yds, 8.2 average||Was thought to be the strongest receiving TE on the squad, but dropped a number of easy catches, appeared to be slowing with age|
|TE||Richard Quinn||9 yds on 1 catch||Underwhelmed as both a receiver and a blocker|
|OL||Stanley Daniels||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||Underwhelmed in the opportunities he had|
|OL||Russ Hochstein||NFL does not keep official individual stats for offensive linemen||Underwhelmed in the opportunities he had|
|DL||Ryan McBean||19 tackles||In 2010, McBean had some good hits, but mostly seemed to commit untimely penalties and underwhelm on most plays|
|DL||Ronald Fields||22 tackles||Simply did not impress in 2010|
|LB||Lee Robinson||2 tackles||Had only 2 tackles before going down to injury. Not sure if he's worth a look or not|
|CB||Perrish Cox||59 tackles, 14 passes defensed, 1 INT||
|CB||Andre Goodman||17 tackles, 8 passes defensed||Often looked lost on defense in 2010, plus struggled with minor injuries throughout the season|
|CB||Nate Jones||57 tackles, 3 passes defensed||Did not look particularly impressive on most plays, often seemed to be out of position|
|S||Renaldo Hill||63 tackles, 4 passes defensed, 2 INT||Appeared to slow down some as the season wore on|
|K||Steven Hauschka||Did well as a replacement kicker||Don't see him staying should Prater return|
I think the thing I find disturbing in this look at the roster is the preponderance of players in the "Worth a Look" and "Pink Slip" categories (58% of the current players). By the same token, 51% of the players fall in the Worth a Look/Has the Potential categories. What this suggests is that we have a very young -- and by extension -- very raw group of players on the roster. The worrisome thing is that we do not seem to have a strong set of talented veterans to build around, and we are definitely lacking in top tier talent.
My hope, at this point, is that we will have a strong draft that brings in some players who can make an immediate impact and that the majority of those players in the "Worth a Look" and "Has the Potential" categories prove to be impact players. A lot of that will depend upon what happens with the coaching staff and how quickly the new coaches are able to bring the players up to speed.