Broncos State of the Roster: Running Back

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It's the third week of Mile High Report's "Be the Broncos GM" series. Today we take a look at the running back position and Denver's State of the Roster. How did Broncos running backs perform in 2013? Who is under contract in 2014?

2014 Roster: C.J. Anderson, Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Jerodis Williams.

2014 Broncos Free Agents: Knowshon Moreno.

Player Pos. Base Salary Signing Bonus Other Bonus Dead Money Cap Figure
Ronnie Hillman RB 635,000 172,708 - -345,416 807,708
Montee Ball RB 562,469 224,878 - -999,634 787,347
C.J. Anderson RB 495,000 4,166 - -8,334 499,166
Jeroldis Williams RB 420,000 - - - 420,000

2014 Running Back Cap Hit: $2.5 million.

Projected 2014 Cap Space: $19.4 million.

"Unexpected" was the key word to describe the Broncos 2013 State of the Roster at the running back position. Montee Ball drafted in the second round was expected to be a Week One starter, but he was passed in the preseason on the depth chart by Knowshon Moreno. Ronnie Hillman, who spent part of 2012 atop the depth chart, spent 2013 mostly inactive. Hillman's fall from grace began in the second week of the preseason against the Seattle Seahawks when he fumbled twice, then fumbled again in Week Three of the preseason against the St. Louis Rams. When Hillman fumbled against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts in back-to-back weeks he did not see significant action again until Week Seventeen when the Broncos rested Moreno.

Starters

If you followed Denver fans exclusively you would have thought that Knowshon Moreno was the greatest thing since Terrell Davis this season. However, a brief look at his numbers overall may change your mind. Moreno's 4.3 yards per carry on the season were very good. His longest run of the season was 31 yards and that did not come until Week Sixteen against the Houston Texans. Moreno's 1,038 rushing yards on the season are not incredibly impressive as that adds up to just over 64 yards per game. If you want to make him sound formidable, you would have to dip into his reception category where he had 60 receptions for 548 yards. Where Moreno was most valuable was in pass protection.

Depth

Enter: Montee Ball, the man, the myth, the legend. Would you be able to guess how many fumbles Ball had on the season? Would you believe me if I said only three, though he was 2nd in terms of fumble percentage, far higher than Moreno. It seemed like many more to me; that may be due to the fact that he lost all three of the balls that he fumbled. Ball showed up when the defenses were their best, in his first game against the Kansas City Chiefs he scored two touchdowns and in his second game against the Chiefs he ran for 117 yards and scampered for his longest run of the season (45 yards).

C.J. Anderson was the people's champ of the preseason, but suffered an injury in the first week of the preseason against the San Francisco 49ers. He did not return until Week Eight against the Washington Redskins. He would only muster 38 yards on 7 rushes (5.4 yards average) on the entire season. In fact he probably saw a majority of his snaps on the season in the Super Bowl.

Ronnie Hillman fumbled three times in two weeks in the preseason and saw his legs cut off for most of the season. Denver did give him significant touches in the Week Four blowout at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, but as I mentioned above, back-to-back weeks of fumbles had Hillman in street clothes for the next seven weeks of the season and throughout the playoffs. Who knows what the long term repercussions will be after a Super Bowl week photo posted to Instagram of Hillman posing with a stripper caused fans to question his commitment.

Jerodis Williams was officially signed by Denver on February 6th, 2014, he is a 5-10, 203 lbs. back out of Furman University in South Carolina. He was with the Minnesota Vikings in the 2013 preseason. If you'd like to see some of the only tape that exists on Williams, check that out right here.

Conclusion

It appears the Broncos will head into 2014 ready to lean heavily on Montee Ball. Do you think he's ready for that toll?

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