Even though the Lockout is ongoing and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement has yet to be signed, there are holes in the Denver Broncos roster that need filling. The glaring need is at Defensive Tackle of course, but if we can ease away from the quarterback speculation and discuss the remaining 50 roster spots, we should be able to narrow things down. In a normal situation, all NFL team rosters would be limited to no more than 80 players. It has been suggested that Training Camps will begin with an increased roster this year because of the short off-season. With that in mind, we will use 90 players as the working model. Let's just take a peek at the things we know right now. Ready...Jump.
Last season, there were 77 players practicing at the onset of Training Camp. Darrell Reid and Jamal Williams were on the Active PUP List, and Ryan Clady was on the Non-Football Injury List bringing us up to the 80 player limit. The chart below shows the number of players at each position at the beginning of Camp. The Final numbers are what we should expect this season. I left one open spot on each unit for shoring up a positional weakness or give a Special Teamer a roster spot.
Quarterback - With John Fox's statement that there will be an open competition at this position, there won't be a 4th quarterback invited to Camp.
Running Back - We know that the Broncos are interested in a Free Agent Running Back. Count on at least one veteran Free Agent, (Let's say two) and two Undrafted Free Agents (UFA's) added to this list. Spencer Larsen is the only Fullback, so one of the pickups should have versatility at least. It may seem like a lot of bodies for this position, but if the Running game is to be emphasized as much as EFX says, quality depth will be required.
Wide Receiver - I see room for two UFA's here. There will be an evaluation on Demaryius Thomas' injury rehab at the earliest possible time, so that the team can make the decision to PUP him before Training Camp or leave him on the roster through Camp. If Bey Bey goes on the PUP prior to Training Camp, look for another body here.
Tight End - This is where that extra wild card spot may come into play in the final roster. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who believes the Broncos are likely to keep four Tight Ends. It's also possible that one Tight End makes the roster at the expense of a Wide Receiver. Not only that, but a versatile Fullback/H-Back type could fill a need for another blocker in the backfield. My reasoning for that thought is because Denver is planning to run a lot more this year. If that is true, the Wide Receiver position will be less prone to injury, thereby making the need to keep an extra man in another position. Tight End is also a good position to grab Special Teams players from too. Just something to keep in mind.
Left Defensive Tackle
Left Defensive End
LINEBACKERS - With 3 full units already on the roster, this position looks ready for Camp. Because RFA Wesley Woodyard could stay or go, I would invite an Undrafted Free Agent here, but with 3 Draft picks expected to make the roster, that only leaves 3-4 spots left.
Left Outside Linebacker (SAM)
DEFENSIVE BACKS - Last season the Broncos kept five Corners and 5 Safeties. With seven Cornerbacks on the roster, one more body should be invited to Camp. Eight Safeties is probably enough, since two are draft picks. One question could be, where will the Broncos keep that wild card spot on Defense? On the Line, at Linebacker or Defensive Back.
SPECIAL TEAMS - In 2010, there wasn't a competition, the jobs were handed out freely. Depending on how the Front Office feels, there likely won't be much competition this year. Former Detroit Lion kicker Steve Hauschka was brought in as security in the effect that RFA Matt Prater isn't re-signed.
Returner - The return duties will not take up a roster spot and auditions should include the players listed below.
I count 37 on Defense including Woodyard and Prater. Add another 8 and we have 45. With the 38 from the Offense and the 7 additions on that side of the ball, we get our magic number 90. To recap, I project that the Broncos will add 15 players to the Training Camp roster. Four Running Backs, two Wide Receivers, an Offensive Lineman, six Defensive Linemen, a Linebacker and a Cornerback. Another thing to keep in mind us that upgrades are likely to occur and some of the players signed to futures contracts could be replaced as early as the hour that Free Agency begins.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours MHR?