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Denver Broncos No Bull Roster Analysis: Backfield

Sadaraine takes a peek at the Denver Broncos roster and delves into our backfield (anyone typically behind the LOS, between the tackles)... Who do we have under contract? What did they look like on the field?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Up next, we're going to dive into the Denver Offensive backfield. The purpose of this series is to take a peek at who we have on the team now as we prepare for Free Agency and the NFL Draft. Please note that while I'm going to throw out some basic stats for our guys, that's just for easy reference.  The core of my analysis on these guys comes from what I saw on the field.

Disclaimer: The No Bull Review is about what I see on Broncos game day. Players buried on the depth chart or practice squad might not be included.


Peyton Manning

Position Games / Started Comp Att TD Int Y/A
QB 16 / 16 395 597 39 15 7.9

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
4th of 5 years $21.5M $5M

I could probably make a whole post out of Manning alone, but I'll try to make it short. Manning is easily the most influential guy on our roster in multiple ways. First off, if he retires or is let go, we have a lot more money to work with in Free Agency. Next, he's a guy that instantly makes your team a playoff contender. Finally, his play style and specific set of skills at QB will dictate a lot of what we do on offense.

Let's speak first about his performance last year. There's a chink in the armor. To what I saw on the field, he was playing hurt for the last 6-8 games and his performance was not consistent. I don't think for a second that that is his ceiling now. I don't think that's how his seasons are destined to go from here on out either. I think he can play another couple of years if he wants to if he wants to put in the work and keep himself healthy.

That being said, our team needs to be ready to sit him if he's hurt. We need to have an offense that isn't so reliant on Manning that we have to play a 60% player instead of a 100% 2nd stringer.

Manning still has all the throws: outside, inside, deep, etc. Don't listen to anyone saying otherwise if they aren't tying it to his health. That's the obvious thing I saw in the end of last season's games: his accuracy suffered because of poor footwork and instability in his legs.

  • Took ~97% of the offensive snaps
  • In my opinion, he MUST share snaps with Osweiler moving forward as the team suffered because of his selfishness in this regard
  • Not mobile (never really has been)
  • Needs to learn to trust his line and go through progressions normally instead of relying on his pre-snap read to do all his work

Brock Osweiler

Position Games / Started Comp Att TD Int Y/A
QB 4 / 0 4 10 1 0 5.2

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
4th of 4 years ~$1.1M ~$250k

I'd love to have some really great insight on Brock, but the problem is that 3 years into his career, I still don't feel like I've gotten to see a fair look at him on the field. In his preseason action he is consistently behind a junky O-line and it shows.

I do love his deep ball accuracy and have seen him toss enough up to know he has the arm for this game. I've also seen him hit some nice intermediate routes with timing (see his TD pass to Virgil Green this year for instance).

  • ~3% of the offensive snaps
  • We need to see more of him in practice and with the starters in the preseason
  • I'd love to see him go through progressions more...he's not done well at that in some of his preseason games, thought that could be because of his lack of protection

Zac Dysert

Position Games / Started
QB -

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
1st of 1 year $510k -

Last year's training camp hero to some, Zac Dysert is depth and I saw no real indication that he'd be anything more than a back-up QB in the NFL. He did have some solid games against the scrubs, but who is going to take that seriously?

  • 0% of the snaps (thank the Lord!)
  • Decent arm from what I've seen
  • Cheap contract...there's no reason to not keep him around if we don't have another prospect fall in our laps that the FO is in love with

Running Backs

C.J. Anderson

Position Games / Started Att Yds Y/A TD Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Fmb
RB 15 / 7 179 849 4.7 8 44 34 324 9.5 2 1

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
3rd of 3 years ~$590k ~$4,000

It was a joy to see C.J. get his shot last year and knock it out of the park. This kid has the goods and I fully expect him to be our starter in 2015. He runs with power, elusiveness, vision, and has a sick jump step. One thing that has me excited is to have him lined up with a fullback in front to lead block. We should see some nice holes for him to burst through. Without injury, I'd easily bet on him to get 1500 yards rushing next year and probably 500 receiving.

  • ~44% of the snaps
  • Secures the ball well
  • Should be utilized as an outlet far more often than he is

Ronnie Hillman

Position Games / Started Att Yds Y/A TD Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Fmb
RB 8 / 4 106 434 4.1 3 34 21 139 6.6 1 1

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
4th of 4 years ~$940k ~$170k

This is honestly a big year for Ronnie. He's a great option as a 3rd down back and I've always thought that. I think it is quite possible that we will see him rotate in more on 3rd downs to cause situational match-up problems. If he makes it through training camp, look for him to be our #2 or 3 back.

  • ~28% of the offensive snaps
  • One of the fastest guys on the team
  • Showed some growth last year making his read and hitting the hole
  • Deadly outside runner and should be used situationally in the passing game more to take advantage of his skillset

Montee Ball

Position Games / Started Att Yds Y/A TD Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Fmb
RB 3 / 0 28 96 3.4 0 7 5 15 3.0 0 0

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
3rd of 4 years ~$940k ~$225k

My opinion on Montee Ball at this point is one of disappointment. Last year his effort early in the season was completely lackluster. That could have been from his surgery and injuries, but if he's that hurt, he shouldn't have been on the field. I'm hoping he returns to the form he had in his first year with us. He had a lot more impact in 2013 and looked like he belonged.

  • ~17% of the offensive snaps
  • Should excel in Kubiak's running system as it will align quite closely with what he did in college
  • Probably will enter the season as the #3-4 back unless he really shows it in training camp

Juwan Thompson

Position Games / Started Att Yds Y/A TD Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Fmb
RB 15 / 0 54 272 5.0 3 7 4 25 6.3 0 1

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
2nd of 3 years $600k -

Here was my training camp hero from last year. Juwan in the preseason looked like CJ Anderson from the back half of the regular season. He's a mean, tough, powerful runner who has good vision and decisiveness. I can easily see Juwan getting moved to fullback for us, but I don't know if we'd be missing out if we did that. He has all the tools to be our #2 back in my mind.

  • ~11% of the offensive snaps
  • Catches well out of the backfield
  • Seems to always gets positive yardage
  • Should be used in short yardage situations

Jeremy Stewart

Position Games / Started Att Yds Y/A TD Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Fmb
RB 6 / 0 6 22 3.7 0 - - - - - 0

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
2nd of 2 years $660k -

I'd love to tell you about Stewart, but I didn't really get to see much of him other than a few snaps here or there. From what I saw, he executed his job when he had opportunities, but didn't look like anything super special.

  • 1% of the offensive snaps
  • Is more of a depth project from what I can tell
  • Not likely to make the team (new coaches will likely want their own projects)

Kapri Bibbs

Position Games / Started
RB 0 / 0

Current Contract Cap Hit Dead Cap
1st of 1 year $510k -

For those of us in Colorado, we've been cheering hard for Kapri, but he never cracked the field last year. Unfortunately our offensive system last year really requires a lot and I don't think Bibbs ever got to a point where Manning would trust him to be out on the field.

  • 0% of the offensive snaps
  • Was a big talent in college and is still an interesting prospect if he can get on the field
  • Needs to really work on pass protection

Closing Thoughts / Overview:

I honestly like our QB situation no matter what happens. Brock is a guy that Kubiak will have no problem building a system for. Manning is a QB that any team can win with. I honestly think the Broncos are in a win - win - win situation at this point: Manning stays and we are a playoff team - Manning leaves and Brock looks like the QB of our future - Manning leaves and we find out we need a different QB than Brock.

Our running back situation looks really well to me. I am a big fan of the product that Anderson, Hillman, and Thompson put on the field last year. Those three guys look to be shoe-ins for our team this year and Ball probably will be too (I expect him to get his crap together and be fighting for his job this season).

That being said, I can see us using draft picks at both QB and RB this year. Elway isn't shy about either position in the draft and it is fairly common to find good players at RB late in the draft.