Bill Barnwell from ESPN ranked every team’s offensive weapons. He noted he focused on skill positions, so these rankings are for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends and ignoring the quarterback and offensive lines from each team.
Seeing that, I thought, “Well cool, the Denver Broncos should rank pretty good here.” That was an incorrect assertion.
22. Denver Broncos
With the Broncos investing $25 million guaranteed in new quarterback Case Keenum and trading for new right tackle Jared Veldheer, general manager John Elway was forced to pinch pennies elsewhere on offense. It was no surprise that the Broncos moved on from C.J. Anderson, although the move turns things over to a combination of ineffective veteran Devontae Booker and rookie Royce Freeman. Denver never really addressed tight end, so they’ll hope that redshirt rookie Jake Butt can serve as a receiving threat from Day 1. The Broncos used a second-round pick on Cody Latimer in 2014 and a third-round pick last year on Carlos Henderson, but Latimer never broke out before leaving this offseason and Henderson might be on the roster bubble after missing his entire rookie season with a finger injury, leading to the selection of Courtland Sutton with the 40th overall pick. The Broncos will spend another year depending on Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, both of whom are now on the wrong side of 30.
The irony if that last line is a few spots later Barnwell would talk about how great the ageless Larry Fitzgerald helps the Arizona Cardinals complete a dynamic offense. I guess its only the wrong side of 30 if you with the Broncos.
Our own Jeff Essary got into the conversation with a point-by-point rebuttal to just about every item Barnwell noted in his breakdown of the Broncos offensive firepower.
Barnwell’s take is completely lacking context and is Eeyoring at it’s finest.
Denver cut C.J. Anderson, in part, because he was overpaid due to production and had a bad contract to begin with. If Booker is a “veteran”, then Paxton Lynch is a veteran. He has been hurt in each of his first two seasons and has been as effective as C.J. on a per snap basis.
At tight end, I don’t care if Jake Butt hasn’t taken a snap yet, the Broncos have upgraded the position from the talent deficient position we’ve trotted out there the past two years.
At wide receiver, there is no friggin’ way Carlos Henderson, a 3rd round pick, gets cut after only 1 year that ended on injured reserve. Drafting Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton was a future move as possible replacements for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, not covering their ass on Henderson. And again, they’ve upgraded that position based over previous seasons. DT can play well into his 30s as a box out/Larry Fitzgerald kind of guy. He’s never really been good at separating anyway, so losing speed isn’t going to hurt his game much.
In 2018, the Broncos have gotten better at literally every offensive position group, except maybe running back where it is probably a wash. Sure CJ.. ran for 1,000 yards, but only cracked 100 yards in a game when he got fed 30 or more carries. He wasn’t dynamic last year at all and he also ranked 47th in the league in elusive rating from PFF.
In Royce Freeman, the Broncos went looking for that elusiveness. Freeman finished 11th in the nation at Oregon last year in this category.
Royce Freeman could be this year's Kareem Hunt. High mileage logged at Oregon, but will be plugged in as workhorse right away. Big bodied rusher. Excellent vision. Useful hands. Sharp footwork. Ranked No. 11 elusive rating with Oregon last year. #NFLDraft— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) April 28, 2018
Clearly Jeff and I are in agreement. The Broncos offense may not be truly elite this year, but at the RB, WR, and TE positions they are certainly not 22nd in the NFL. Even at 30, Thomas and Sanders are likely a Top 10 duo in the league and Barnwell really did some lazy analysis on that one.
How well do you think the Broncos skill positions will fare this season?