The Mile High Report round table for 2016 expectations of the Denver Broncos and their players continues today with us all naming one player who absolutely must improve from their 2015 season.
Earlier today, we covered who we felt would have a breakout season this year and why. So it made sense to talk about players who simply need to get better - a lot better - than they were last season. Or just guys who vastly under-performed their talent level.
Michael Schofield x2
Michael Schofield could end up as our swing tackle, our starting RT or as one of our starting guards, but if he wants to stay on the field in 2016 he's going to have to play better. Stephenson is a better pass blocker as a tackle, so Schofield will need to step up his game to stay on the field. He might have a better shot to stay on the field as a guard, but he's already a lesser run blocker than McGovern and probably a lesser pass blocker than Ty Sambrailo. His only advantage right now over Stephenson at tackle and McGovern/Sambrailo at guard is that he knows the offense and had most of a season playing in it. - Joe Mahoney
Michael Schofield has to be better. If the Denver Broncos want to improve on offense, it will center around the play up front. The offense is predicated on the O-Line being great, and Schofield showed last year that he was far from great. At times he was far from adequate, and if that continues this year, he should either find himself on the bench, or part of a trade. There can be no holes in the line. That starts with the weak link. That is Michael Schofield - Adam Malnati
C.J. Anderson x3
C.J. Anderson is the guy I think has to step it up this year. It was frustrating last year seeing him have an up and down start to the year (losing out the starting job to Ronnie Hillman for awhile). He consistently shows flashes of what a really great NFL RB looks like, but has yet to put a full season together. We need him to stay in shape, stay on the field, and bulldoze some poor fools this year. - Sadaraine
C.J. Anderson signed a fat contract, and its time for him to earn it. Look, we all know that C.J. has the talent, he just needs to stay healthy and keep his conditioning up. If he can do that, he has the makings of being the rushing champion. Now that he has a fullback and hopefully increased motivation to earn his increased paychecks, we will see the C.J. Anderson who puts the game in his hands and ends them with breakaway runs, leaving defenders shaking their heads, and pretty boy QBs pouting on the field. Honorable mention: Demaryius Thomas for all the reasons we watched last year. - Pete Baron
He's the man now and is being paid like it, which means he needs to take care of his body this offseason and be ready to carry the load all season long. I like the idea of him splitting carries early in games, but by the fourth quarter have him be on the field for every snap. It just seemed like he would own the fourth quarter and overtimes of games when his legs were fresher than everyone else's. - Tim Lynch
Sylvester Williams (and maybe Peyton Manning too)
Peyton Manning. Now that he’s retired he doesn’t need to deal with the physical struggle that limited him last year. I expect his charitable work to skyrocket now that he’ll have significantly more amounts of free time on his hands. I also believe Sylvester Williams needs to perform at a higher level this season so the Broncos can lose him in free agency next year.
Williams was good last season, and he played great down the stretch, especially in the Super Bowl. The Broncos did not place the 5th year option on him, which means they’re probably not sold on the idea that he is the future at his position. There were a lot of interior defenders that ranked out higher than Williams, including Terrance Knighton, according to ProFootballFocus.com. With all of the talent around Williams on that defensive line there’s no reason he shouldn’t be one of the most disruptive nose tackles in the NFL. - Brandon Perna
Ty Sambrailo and Max Garcia
Brock Osweiler. Just kidding, my answer here won't be fair, but really Ty Sambrailo and Max Garcia. I expect Sambrailo to take over right guard in the absence of Louis Vasquez, but the whole line can get messed up real quick with one injury. Either way, Sambrailo appeared just about every type of way a rookie offensive lineman should appear. That won't fly this year, Max Garcia could possibly push Matt Paradis at center in camp, but will likely go head-to-head with rookie Connor McGovern over the right to start at left guard. - Ian Henson
Demaryius Thomas x2
He's been mentioned as a player some expect to have a breakout season, but with how non existent he's been the last two playoffs, Demaryius Thomas better step up and lead this team. Why pay a guy who isn't reliable and doesn't show up when his team needs it? The Broncos won the Super Bowl with next to nothing from Thomas in the playoffs. It's not all about stats, but when and how a player performs. The Oakland Raiders scouting report of Thomas prior to the 2010 draft that got leaked a few weeks ago still says it all about him. That better change in 2016. - Ian St. Clair
I’m a big fan of DT (just bought a jersey t-shirt of his), but even he would tell you that he did not play up to his full potential last year. Kubiak mentioned in a recent press conference that there were a few balls he should have caught. I think after a few crucial 3rd down catches and one-handed touchdowns, DT will make the #tradedt movement of 2015/16 a distant memory. - Jeffrey Essary
Paradis gets a lot of praise on how he has grown from a late-round pick, to practice squad designated player, to a full-time starter last season. He played pretty well, but there were a lot of breakdowns in pass protection on his behalf and he was overpowered at the line of scrimmage by much bigger defenders. He he can improve his technique and master the nuances of the position, he should become a great NFL center. The Broncos will need him to step up his game and be a solid foundation of an offensive line that will have a handful of new faces starting on it in 2016 - Christopher Hart
There are a lot of good choices here - Demaryius Thomas, Ronnie Hillman, Cody Latimer, Michael Schofield, Peyt...oh, wait. But alas, the question asks who "needs" to perform at a higher level. So thinking which player needs to perform at a higher level in order to really help the team, I think that is the punter. Whether it is Britton Colquitt or Riley Dixon next season, the Broncos need to be able to rely on consistently good punting while the offense improves, helping our defense keep opponents pinned back deep in their own territory as much as possible. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Give us your thoughts on who you believe is one player (or several) that need to improve for the Denver Broncos in 2016 in the comments section.