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Are the Broncos building a roster that will thrive in the modern NFL?

As the NFL continues to evolve and pass happy offenses dominate the league, are the Broncos poised to keep up?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Monday Night Football game featuring the Chiefs and Rams was not only an offensive spectacle to behold, but it has the football community buzzing about the implications this has for the future of the NFL.

To many, this game was the culmination of a turning point in the league, one that we have been talking about for awhile; a league where points are plentiful, yards even more so, passing is the preferred method to get there, and defenses are just trying to disrupt and slow them down.

Whether you are happy about the shift as a football fan (we could talk all day about that, I’m sure), it is undeniable that this evolution is nearly complete and we are now in the modern NFL. This isn’t a fad that will pass, this will only become more of the status quo as other teams rush to keep up.

This is exactly the conversation Benjamin Allbright had on Orange and Blue 760 with the 1st & 10 at 10 crew.

This is something both Allbright and Daniel Jeremiah have been talking about today in light of last night’s game. They have been bringing up excellent points about how we think about great teams and good defenses.

Take the Eagles last year, for example, who won a Super Bowl in which they gave up over 600 yards of total offense and 33 points, but came up with a clutch strip sack to win the game. Same story last night, as the Rams defense gave up 51 points, the first time in NFL history a team has allowed that many points and still won the game, yet it was the defense who made the difference by scoring two touchdowns and forcing five total turnovers.

Which leads to a lot of interesting conversations that have been happening for awhile now, but are being accelerated by last night’s game - what does it take to win in today’s NFL?

Jeremiah had a great checklist he put out, that I think is pretty accurate.

We could debate the list, and would certainly love to here your thoughts in the comments, but for my money, this feels pretty darn close.

So naturally I wanted to see how Denver stacks up in each of these categories, especially as we begin to evaluate the roster going into the end of this season to really hone in on the areas that need most improvement.

QB (0/1)

I think we all know the answer here. Denver is still in search of their quarterback of the future, and until they find him, they will be on the outside looking in of the top tier of the NFL. An NFL that requires you score 30+ points regularly (Rams, Chiefs, and Saints all average over 35 PPG), and occasionally need to win in shootout fashion means you have to have a quarterback that can hang in that situation.

Pass Rushers (2/2)

Denver is in a good spot here with Bradley Chubb’s emergence, and the best edge rusher in the game, in Von Miller. For at least the next few years Denver should be good in this category. That’s not to say they couldn’t add some interior pressure here, though.

Offensive Playmakers (2/3)

I am counting just Emmanuel Sanders and Philip Lindsay in this category for now. Sanders absolutely deserves to be here as he has proven ability to take over games, and is an elite talent who makes extraordinary plays, regularly. Maybe it’s a bit premature to put Lindsay here, but I don’t think so. He has the makings of a special, special player, and is one that is a huge differentiator for your offense.

Courtland Sutton and Royce Freeman are still need to show me some more before I would confidently put them here, but they have the potential to turn into that for Denver, giving them three solid offensive playmakers to build around.

Defensive Playmakers (1/3)

Jeremiah clarified that this does not include pass rushers and is more speaking to the 2nd and 3rd levels. I feel like this is where Denver is severely lacking, and we’re seeing the effects of it on results this year.

Chris Harris is the only player I would put in this category. Justin Simmons is a guy I would have potentially penciled in here last year, but he has had a very disappointing season thus far. Su’a Cravens also has potential to be this in the future, but has just not seen the field enough.

Denver desperately needs to find a true playmaker on the backend, whether that is a versatile safety, a do-it-all linebacker, or another shut down corner.

Quality OL (2/3)

I’m being generous here by counting Ronald Leary and Matt Paradis, both who are on IR, and are not currently signed through next year. If neither of them are retained, obviously that sets the count back.

Garrett Bolles is not anywhere near being ready to put in this category. Connor McGovern is showing promise, so he would be on the watch list here. Denver is still in need of solid, foundational talent on the offensive line that can stay healthy and allow the Broncos to build continuity here.

So it looks like there’s some work to do. Also, imagine what this list would look like if it weren’t for the 2018 draft class. The future of Denver’s roster really does rise and fall on the success of this class, and perhaps the next one to come, as they will be the new core the Broncos build around for the future.

Lastly, this exercise from Jeremiah (who is a former scout) was only focused on roster building, while also recognizing that there is a coaching component to take into account as well that we haven’t even touched in this list.

That said, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Do you agree with my list? Who would you add, or not include?