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Depth at running back could be Achilles' heel for Broncos offense

With only one clear starter in Montee Ball, the rest of the depth chart causes concern for MHR's own 'No Bull' reviewer.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Peyton Manning is your quarterback, you tend to think only about your passing game. But everyone knows - at least if you believe the commentators - that you have to establish the running game to be a winning team. Just how much is the Broncos' running game going to help the team this year with relatively untested backs?

Once again, Sadaraine weighs in with his No Bull Review and witty intuition on one of the biggest depth questions on our team.

What qualities/skills will you be looking for among all the running backs that would make you confident about the Broncos’ ability - and depth - at this position?

First and foremost they need to not suck at pass protection. That's one of the big downsides to the Peyton Manning absolutely requires backs who can block.

Other than that, I want to see guys that can break a tackle and gain some extra yards. That's the big thing we hardly ever saw last year (it isn't Knowshon's bag or Montee's either, so far).

Which rookie RB are you most excited to hear about during camp? Why this rookie more than the others?

Kapri Bibbs.  Basically because he's local, and I'm pretty meh about all of the new blood at RB.  I'm not high on any of the rookie backs, but there's always someone who shows the goods at TC.


Which RBs do you expect to make the team (and what makes you think that right now)?

Montee Ball and CJ Anderson.  This team has gone all-in on Ball, and the kid was really looking good at the end of last season.  CJ has the goods.  He belongs on the NFL field.  I saw that in the limited looks we got last season, and it is really backed up by the way the coaches handled him last year (not putting him on the practice squad, not putting him on IR, etc).

This team has gone all-in on Ball, and the kid was really looking good at the end of last season.   -Sadaraine

*Specifically, in your opinion, is Montee Ball definitely the top RB? And how do you rank Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson?

Yes, I believe he is.  I have no problem with Ball at all as our starter; I just think we need more depth, and I don't like what I see behind him.

Ronnie Hillman should probably be on another team.  He doesn't block well, and he fumbles.  We just aren't a team that is built to use a back with his limitations. I like scat-backs, and I like home-run runners...but it isn't working, and he's better off elsewhere.

CJ is going to be a solid back for us for a long time.  I don't have a good take yet on his ceiling, but hopefully he'll see a lot of action this year so we know more.  I do know that he is solid depth.

Who is your "player to watch" among all the Running Backs?

CJ, in all honesty. I'm pretty high on him, but RBs can look good one year and suck the next...especially with so few snaps.  I'm pretty excited to get a good long look at him in some preseason games though!

How crucial to the Broncos offense do you think the running game will be this year?

If the defense is as good as I think it will be, then it won't be very important.  If the defense is up and down like last year, then we will really need that extra facet to our team.

Give us the "No Bull Review" take on our Running Backs - what's your overall assessment of who we have and what we can do?

Depth will be important either way and that's the worry with this group...where is the depth?  Montee looks pretty good.  That's one back.  CJ looked good in a really small sample size, so there are question marks there.

No Bull: Hillman has been over-hyped since he was drafted.  My eyes tell me he is a bust on this team. He may be a complete bust, but we'd need to see him in a different system.

I love the passing game like noboby's business, but a good running game makes me get a little teary-eyed honestly. Our team unfortunately doesn't put a priority on that.   -Sadaraine

I love the passing game like nobody's business, but a good running game makes me get a little teary-eyed honestly.  I would love to have the kind of line and rushers that get us half of our production on offense with very few negative plays. Our team unfortunately doesn't seem to put a priority on that. That's fine if you have a really good trick (and we do...Peyton Manning is the chess equivalent to a queen while all other QBs in the NFL are Knights at best), but if that trick is taken away, where does that leave us?

The last Super Bowl tells a pretty compelling story about that.