As if there aren't enough roster predictions out there already, I figured I may as well throw in my two cents since that's what I'm here to do, and because I've been itching to talk some Broncos football.
The Broncos obviously have their three quarterbacks for this year, Orton is obviously the starter, and we don't need to care about who the backup is unless Orton gets hurt, which history indicates he will. In that case, Tebow out-played Quinn in the pre-season finale, but so did I. Quinn reverted back to his 2010 form, and I was not excited to see that version.
This position is not a mystery, but I do think the Broncos will look to keep Adam Weber on the practice squad. You saw Tebow and Larry Fitzgerald come up to congratulate him for his effort on those final two plays, and I think there is a general feeling that Weber is an all around good guy, and from what I saw the last four years at Minnesota, the guy is not afraid to go and ball out for a crappy football team. Karma says this guy gets an opportunity as a part of our practice squad and possibly the primary backup for the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos starting next year (I can dream).
I wouldn't put stock into either Ball or Johnson making the team, but at the same time, if I were either of those guys and I got cut I would put a flaming bag of poop into the locker of every backup offensive lineman. Neither guy brings anything special to the table except for they have busted their butts, but sometimes that's just not good enough.
We know Knowshon and Willis are locks, and while Larsen is the incumbent and a big hitter at the fullback position, I think Austin Sylvester has really pushed for a starting job, or at least to get the Broncos to keep two fullbacks on the roster. He's done well this offseason, and took some first team reps at practice a couple weeks ago.
I think if Sylvester doesn't make the final 53, he's got a PS spot locked in.
PUP: Demaryius Thomas
I think Davis showed last pre-season he was worthy of making the team, but this year he has not been good, not in my eyes. Anderson has showed he's willing to at least try to return punts, but he's not much good at that either. D'Andre Goodwin played solid in the final pre-season game, and he's made some plays in practice as well.
Still, no other "on the bubble" receiver has made more plays when it counts than Eron Riley, who is the most intriguing combination of size and speed. He is bigger than the other guys, he's faster, he produced more, and he's flat out the better receiver. If I'm picking the team, there's no way he doesn't make the final roster.
On the bubble: Virgil Green
I'm pretty sure Virgil Green will not clear waivers. Thus, I think we have seen the last of him in a Broncos uniform for a while barring the unforeseen. He just wasn't good enough in the pre-season to beat Gronkowski for a spot on the team, but I guess in the NFL you just never know.
This remains undoubtedly the worst position on the Broncos. If there is a veteran upgrade, they should take a serious look. The Broncos' tight end situation is kind of pathetic when you consider Julius Thomas has a load of potential but is still very raw. Daniel Fells is just an okay player in my estimation, and had some inexcusable drops. Dante Rosario was terrible this pre-season, and I don't think he has any chance of making the team.
I wouldn't guarantee any of our backups a spot on the roster. The good news for the Broncos is that the starters are pretty darn good. The bad news is, if any of them goes down, it's going to be bad, bad news. I do not think any of our backups right now are worthy of a spot on the roster, or possibly any NFL roster.
I initially projected Harvey to make the final 53, and I think if it came to it, the Broncos might go with him. I think they will scour the waiver wire here, but I really like all three of these on the bubble guys in different ways. Hunter produced last year, and he might be the safest option. I think Beal perhaps has the most upside right now, and Harvey is still a young player who was let go after only three seasons in Jacksonville.
The good thing here is that the Broncos are going to have to cut a good player, maybe two. I think we are set at DE for right now unless a bright, shiny upgrade comes along.
I saw Brown and McBean make some plays this pre-season, so I think if the Broncos can't get anyone off waivers that they will look to one or both of those guys. Mitch Unrein hasn't been really great in my opinion, and neither has DeMario Pressely, though I don't know what he's been doing in the practices.
I think Bunkley is our best DT by far, and then Thomas and Vickerson are slightly average or above average rotational guys. Outside of TE, this is the Broncos' weakest position on the roster.
On the bubble: Lee Robinson
The linebacker position has some question marks, but if the Broncos get desperate, then Lofa Tatupu is looking for work and getting desperate as well. I think D.J. Williams is a very good two-down option for us, and then we have Von Miller, who will be 99 overall on Madden by next season.
I like Joe Mays getting a chance to start at MLB, and I think Irving and Mohamed are decent prospects (even though Mohamed was one of Nick's duds). Woodyard is a special teams ace and a key reserve.
Lee Robinson may be the odd man out in this group.
With Syd'Quan heading to injured reserve in all likelihood, the Broncos will be searching the cut lists for a decent backup cornerback--or two or three. Perrish Cox was beaten like a mule at times in the pre-season, and both Chris Harris and Brandon Bing have shown flashes, but are they ready to contribute in a reserve role yet? I think they are better PS options at this point, and Cox might not be good enough--forget the legal troubles--to make this roster.
I think, sadly, the injury to Thompson helps Cox makes this roster in the end, but I think the Broncos should keep their eyes open for upgrades. It's too early to give up on him as a player because he does have a lot of upside, and he is a pretty good return man when he keeps his eye on the ball.
The Broncos are going to have to cut one of their high 2009 draft choices with the emergence of Kyle McCarthy this offseason, and I think that McBath is the better safety between he and Bruton. Bruton is a good special teams player, but McBath is as good if not better.
Darcel has been very injury prone throughout his career, so I think he gets one more shot to show he can be the player we all saw in Indianapolis two years ago.
This is the best area of our team. We've got this on lock down for as long as we need it. Prater is one of the best and most underrated kickers in the league, Colquitt has been playing out of his mind, and Paxton is as good as they come as a long snapper.
Steve Hauschka will have no problem finding a job either. He's a good kicker. Can you trade kickers?
By my count, that's 42 players who are probably a lock to make the final roster. That's not encouraging, but considering you don't dress many more than that, I think it's okay. The Broncos are still young and they need a bit to get this re-loading project along. I think we surprise a lot of people this season, and the projection I've laid out above leaves room for the Broncos to make quite a few roster changes before the start of the season.
Positions to watch out for the Broncos to look to significantly upgrade: Running Back, Tight End, Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle, and Cornerback.