I'm breaking down our team to look at what we have in the cupboard for this offseason. In doing so, I've gathered data from nflgsis.com to give us some stats to look at as we evaluate what our players did in the 2016 regular season. Also, overthecap.com contract info will be embedded when available. I'll add to that a synopsis of each player including their contract situation. Hopefully this helps Denver Broncos Country here at MHR be better educated on the state of the team, it’s strengths and weaknesses, and what positions we’ll likely target in free agency and the draft.
We’re going to kick this series off with the Special Teams unit. I’ll cover our kicking specialists and returners. Yes, I know there are other players on the unit, but qualifying them isn’t an easy exercise based purely on their contributions on Special Teams which means I’ll be keeping my focus narrow on this one.
Punting Stats - 2016
|B.McManus||0/ 0||9/ 9||10/ 10||7/ 9||3/ 6|
Punt Returns - 2016
Kickoff Returns - 2016
Riley Dixon was arguably one of the best performing rookies in 2016. His punting was not just good, but at times impressive. He’s got a big leg and very good ball placement. As you can see, he’s on a very team friendly contract. His job should be quite secure for 2016.
Don’t be surprised if we bring in an undrafted free agent after the draft just to have a warm body in camp and being prepared for possible injury.
Brandon McManus had a solid year for the Broncos. He was perfect under 39 yards, only missed 2 from 40-49, and made half of his kicks from 50+ yards. He has a huge leg and is superb at kickoffs as well. He even at times was asked to kick short of the end zone and placed the ball well.
McManus is entering a contract year with the Broncos. As long as he has another good year and continues to show consistency and a big leg, we’ll likely be resigning him next offseason. I really can’t find much to complain about his kicking game. He nails everything he’s supposed to and has a decent average on the longer distance kicks. If we had an offense that was a little more on the average side, we’d have seen a lot more action out of his leg in 2016.
We spent the majority of the year letting Jordan Norwood handle punt returns much to my dismay. One of the more controversial things I said about Norwood in 2015 was that he wasn’t a good returner...right after the Super Bowl. He lacks sure hands, decent vision, and a sense of timing. He’s a scrub as a returner and his benching couldn’t come soon enough for my eyes in 2016.
Khaliff Raymond has a gear from what I’ve seen that Norwood doesn’t. He also showed some worrisome hands and if he can’t get consistent in that area, look for us to go a different direction.
I do think Broncos Country should look for a returner type player in the draft this year. We have a slew of picks and no set answer for 2017.
Aside from returner, our Special Teams units are pretty set as far as skill positions go. We have a top 15 place kicker and punter (arguably higher in both cases). Their contracts aren’t out of whack at all either.
We’ll likely have the typical competition signings in the offseason, but if Denver is going to use any draft capital on Special Teams, it will likely be for a returner as I mentioned above.