According to early camp reports and various media outlets, the Denver Broncos are expected to rely heavily on their running game. The ambiguous situation at quarterback leads many to believe that in order for the offense to have efficacy, they will need to run the ball effectively with C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker and whoever else makes the roster this coming season.
But despite those beliefs, Head Coach Gary Kubiak believes that wide receiver could be the strength of the Broncos football team in 2016, and the unit has been impressive thus far in training camp.
"I’ve said from day one, that really has the chance to be the strength of our team. It’s going to be really hard to make our team at that position," said Kubiak. "It’s very competitive and they all work with each other. It’s exciting to watch. It’s a good group."
There are twelve players battling it out for the depth chart at wide receiver: Bralon Addison, Marlon Brown, Bennie Fowler, Mose Frazier, Cody Latimer, Durron Neal, Jordan Norwood, DeVier Posey, Kalif Raymond, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Taylor and Demaryius Thomas
It's a long list of players. Many are veterans who have made an impact or contributed for the Broncos significantly over the past several seasons. Sprinkled in with the veterans are a healthy dose of rookie and second-year players who have had impressed performances in camp thus far, and are doing whatever to make sure their names are one of the final 53 listed on the roster.
Listed below is my prognostication on where the receivers stand thus far in regard to making the team in 2016.
Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Bennie Fowler
Denver's dynamic duo of Thomas and Sanders are mortal locks to make the final 53 man roster. The two are easily some of the best wide receivers in the NFL and their big play ability will be key for Denver's offensive efficacy in 2016. Thomas should have a huge year for the Broncos this season. I also believe that Bennie Fowler is going to make the final roster as well. He shows a lot of grit and toughness on the field and has an old school playing still similar to Rod Smith on the field.
Jordan Norwood, Cody Latimer, Jordan Taylor
Norwood gets placed into the "likely candidates" section for now given the fact he can play special teams as a returner and also has experience in the offense as a receiver. Taylor has impressed in camp and could be the big body possession receiver and red zone target the team needs on offense.
The huge question mark in this category is former second-round draft selection Latimer, who has disappointed thus far in his career. He has made his mark on special teams as a gunner, but hasn't produced much of anything offensively. Alas, it would be hard for the Broncos to justify cutting the young receiver who still flashes a lot of potential.
On The Bubble:
Bralon Addison, Marlon Brown, Moze Frazier, Khalif Raymond, DeVier Posey, Durron Neal
Most of the players listed above are rookies (Addison, Frazier, Raymond and Neal) who are doing whatever it takes to make the squad. The others (Brown and Posey) are players Gary Kubiak has coached in Baltimore and Houston respectively. If any of these players have a shot to make the roster, it would be Raymond who has caught the eyes of coaches, in particular Kubiak thus far in camp.
"You see a fearless returner. That’s why we went and got him. That’s why [Special Teams Coordinator] Joe [DeCamillis] brought him here. He’s also doing some good stuff as a receiver. He’s small, but he runs good routes," said Kubiak. "He is a speed kid and does everything hard. We’ll see. I think he’s smart enough to understand that he doesn’t get too preoccupied with the depth chart. He is just trying to prove to us that he can play."
It's quite possible that Raymond could unseat Norwood on the depth chart and replace him as a returner. If he continues to impress over the course of training camp, it might be hard for the Broncos to stash him away on their practice squad.
When the dust settles, I believe the Denver Broncos will carry six wide receivers on their active roster for the upcoming season. Those players will likely be: Thomas, Sanders, Fowler, Latimer, Taylor and Raymond.
Sound off in the comments section and give us your predictions on who you believe the Broncos final group of receivers will be!