The least interesting position battle on the team right now might just be the outside linebacker position. Not only are the Denver Broncos absolutely loaded with the talent at the starting positions, but also have starter caliber players in the backup slots.
It is unlikely any of these four players will be unseated in training camp. I say unlikely, but the real answer is that it isn’t going to happen. Period.
There are seven players battling it out for the depth chart at outside linebacker: Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett, Vontarrius Dora, Kyle Kragen and Sadat Sulleyman.
The embarrassing level of talent at this position is probably why the Broncos are reigning Super Bowl Champions right now. It cannot be understated how important it is to have your best pass rushers be fresh and explosive from start to finish in big games.
The depth here made all of that possible.
Listed below is my prognostication on where the outside linebackers stand thus far in regard to making the team in 2016.
Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware
Von Miller inked a massive deal a few weeks ago and will be a “Broncos for life” starting in 2016, while this year might be Ware’s final season with the Broncos. Ware’s role is going to be hugely important, however. He’ll be in on third downs with a singular mission: sack the quarterback.
Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett
Both Ray and Barrett should be locks for the roster as well. They will see significantly more playing time with Ware’s likely specializes role. The interesting thing here will be seeing which player shines the brightest. 2016 is their chance to audition for the starting role opposite Von Miller.
On The Bubble:
Vontarrius Dora, Kyle Kragen, Sadat Sulleyman
Dora played defensive end in college, but is too small to play that position in the NFL. He may not be athletic enough to make the team as an outside linebacker, so he may have to add some weight to his 6’4” frame and try again next year.
The same could be said of Kragen. Despite his Bronco heritage, Kragen also lacks some athleticism to play outside linebacker in the NFL. The upside is that he played that position in college, so if he does enough through the rest of training camp he could land himself on the practice squad.
Sulleyman might be the most interesting outside linebacker prospect the Broncos currently have the roster that is vying for the practice squad. In fact, he is my prediction for making it to that unit once the cuts start coming through. He is a film junkie and has the athleticism to play the position in the Broncos 3-4 alignment.
I think one of the bubble guys will end up on the practice squad, so that is really what those three are battling for. The Broncos are unlikely to keep more than the four outside linebackers that have already contributed greatly to their success in 2015.