2012: Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Lance Ball, Chris Gronkowski, Jacob Hester (mid-season), Jeremiah Johnson (practice squad mid-season)
2013: Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball, Jacob Hester, Jeremiah Johnson, C.J. Anderson
This one is difficult to call.
Entering 2012, Willis McGahee was a Pro Bowler, a player on the verge of reviving his career - and reviving the Mile High Salute in Denver. He was the clear cut starter and even served as a veteran mentor to Peyton Manning in his first year with the Broncos. The catch, of course, was that he had turned 30 years old, the seeming cursed age of running backs in the NFL.
Entering 2013, Montee Ball is an NCAA record holder for total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. The Wisconsin product has been as productive as anyone to enter the NFL in the last several years. But he has never played an NFL snap, and no one knows for sure how he will do.
In both years, both players had potential. In both years, both players had questions surrounding things they couldn't control - age. They just happen to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Ultimately I'm going with....
... and I'll tell you why. There are two reasons.
Reason 1. The Broncos are giving Ball every opportunity to succeed, including getting that personal time with Manning, so there is certainly a foundation in place for greatness. The extra reps, the getting matched with Manning at charity golf tournaments - like a stem cell experiment gone right, put Ball next to greatness and watch him become great.
Reason 2. Alex Gibbs. I'm a believer in Alex Gibbs, and I know you are too. The offensive line consultant will help the team execute looks of a zone-blocking run offense that will play to these running backs' strengths.
All of this, plus the fact that Ronnie Hillman is a year wiser and packing on the bulk, and I believe the Broncos have a one-two punch they lacked in 2012.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the poll and comments!