2014 Denver Broncos Offense: State of the Roster post Free Agency

Christian Petersen

Though the Broncos might make a few low-key additions I think it is time to take stock of our roster heading into the draft. I'll also make an attempt at classifying the level of each player though this is subjective.

Offense

Quarterback

Player

Role

Quality

Manning

Starter

Blue Chip

Osweiler

Backup

Unknown

Dysert

Depth

Unknown

Manning enters the season 38 years old and is playing the best football of his life. Still, we all know the pitfalls of relying too much on one player. If the other team can neutralize that player the team has no shot. I do not believe it was the intention of Elway and co. to depend so much on Peyton last season, but injuries sure dictated that plan. Bottom line, if the Broncos have built the show around Manning being elite week in and week out there will be some disappointment sooner or later. Everyone has a bad game or two.

As far as depth, looking back at Osweiler's performance against the Raiders, it is uncanny how much he emulates Manning to this point. From some of the pre-snap movements to short three-step drop passing, Oz seems capable of playing the dink and dunk game. He is also far more athletic, able to scramble and make stronger throws on the run. Until the team is his it will be impossible to know what else his seemingly complete skillset brings to the table.

There should be no apparent need here. Pick up an UDFA to fill out the #4 spot.

Running Back

Player

Role

Quality

Ball

Starter

Unknown

CJ Anderson

Backup

Unknown

Hillman

Backup

Unknown

The Broncos failed to go out and grab a veteran to shoulder the load, which is a bit surprising given how affordable the contracts were. At one point John Elway even said "it is time to take the training wheels off." The Broncos may add someone in the draft, they still might sign a guy off the streets, but Montee Ball is the unquestioned starter heading into this year.

Some have pondered the lack of depth and experience behind Ball as possible stumbling blocks towards the running game providing more of an impact in 2014. One thing is for sure, after this season, the Broncos will know what they have heading into the Osweiler era.

I believe Montee can carry the load and be the workhorse in the backfield, but there will be some growing pains. I am less worried about injury with a player that has proven to be durable.

Wide Recevier

Player

Role

Quality

Thomas

Starter

Blue Chip

Sanders

Starter

Above Average

Welker

Starter

Red Chip

Caldwell

Backup

Average

Thomas is an absolute stud and is well on his way to becoming a top 5 player at his position, if he had a little more speed he would probably already be there. With Sanders you get the speed and a bit more consistency over Decker in the drop department. He should be able to stretch the field a bit better and his route running is a bit underrated. Welker will continue to be the best slot receiver in the game though his contributions to the offense do not scream "elite player" to me. Caldwell will once again provide some valuable depth. He can play inside or outside giving the Broncos some flexibility especially if guys need some rest.

I would really ponder some true 4-WR sets with these guys. If a team is dead set on covering Thomas, the defense is more than ripe to have the top taken off by some speed with Sanders and Caldwell. Both guys can burn.

With Welker possibly done after this year and Sanders being on a two-year deal, this is a position that the Broncos need to address in the draft. You might even see them double dip depending on how things fall. If that happens, expect there to be some fierce competition at the 4-5 slots. I would expect the Broncos to take 5 WR on the active roster even though they chose 4 last year. My gut feeling tells me they only carry 3 TE next season.

Tight End

Player

Role

Quality

Thomas

Starter

Red Chip

Green

Starter

Above Average

Tamme

Backup

Above Average

Dreessen

Backup

Average

In my mind, Dreessen is already gone. His lingering injury issues coupled with a high salary for 2014 make him expendable. Tamme could be in the same boat, but he provides a bit more flexibility than Dreessen especially when it comes to lining up as a WR.

Our two rookies from 2011 will form the 1-2 punch with Julius seeing the majority of the action. Though he struggled mightily as a blocker, he shows enough skill and explosiveness to be considered a powerful weapon in the offense. Virgil is a great blocker and when given the opportunity has shown the ability to catch the ball and even line up across the offensive front.

I am not worried about depth here. I think the Broncos can carry three on the active roster and be fine. They simply do not run enough heavy sets to warrant keeping four guys.

Offensive Line

Player

Role

Quality

Clady

LT, Starter

Blue Chip

Franklin

Starter

Above Average

Vasquez

RG, Starter

Blue Chip

Clark

Starter

Average

Ramirez

Starter

Average

Justice

Backup

Depth

Garland

Backup

Depth

Out of all the fixes out there to this group, the one that seems most appealing to me would be Franklin to Guard and Clark to RT. I hated this idea at the beginning of FA, but the Broncos did nothing to replace the loss of Zane Beadles.

Clady coming back should be an instant upgrade on Clark, who played admirably last season. Moving Clark to RT where he will face lesser talent most of the time will be an upgrade on Franklin who struggles with speed rushers and has since his rookie season. Moving Franklin to LG should upgrade Beadles who struggled with power at times especially when it came to the pass rushing department.

Of course the Broncos could also keep Clark on the bench, and draft a guard or center to start week 1.

Whatever ends up being the solution Elway and co. will add someone through the draft at this position group. I could also see them double dip here.

Wrap-Up

The biggest questions facing the Broncos offense heading into the 2014 draft are along the offensive line and running back positions. There is too much uncertainty here for Broncos fans to ignore. The running game simply has to play a bigger role next season, yet it seems the Broncos were less aggressive in trying to get some better talent here.

Secondary to that is the Wide Receiver position which will see Thomas and Welker's contracts up at the end of the season to go along with a couple of short term deals for an above average starter and and average depth guy.

Biggest position of need: OL

Biggest position of uncertainty: RB

Look for the Broncos to draft OL and WR for sure. Secondary to those would be RB. I doubt QB or TE are taken at all, though you might see a pick like that if Elway is truly going to go BPA.

Starters (11 and 12 Personnel)

4 blue chip players (Manning, D. Thomas, Clady, Vasquez)

2 red chip players (Welker, J. Thomas)

3 above average players (Franklin, Sanders, Green)

2 average players (Ramirez, Clark)

1 unknown (Ball)

What are your thoughts MHR? I'll have a rundown of the defense for you tomorrow.

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