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HT: Broncos that could disappoint in 2018

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Every NFL season sees the rise of new talents and the decline of older ones. We like to talk about the stars & breakout candidates, but who are the Broncos who might not do so well in 2018?

Divisional Playoffs - Indianapolis Colts v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

As training camp approaches, we’re all set to watch & analyze some exciting additions to the Broncos’ roster. Guys like Case Keenum, Su’a Cravens, Bradley Chubb, Jake Butt, Josey Jewell, Marquette King, Courtland Sutton, and DaeSean Hamilton are poised to make the 2018 Broncos better than the 2017 incarnation of the team. It’s one of the most exciting times of the year- you can almost taste the return of NFL football.

But for some to rise, others must fall. That’s the nature of the game when there are only so many roster spots, starting spots, and live game snaps to go around. If 200 or so of the 2018 rookies make their teams’ final rosters, that’s 200 or so other players whose NFL careers have almost certainly ended. And that’s before you consider any undrafted free agents that make rosters, former starters that must now accept backup roles, and a host of other situations.

Denver Broncos v Washington Redskins Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Broncos aren’t exempt from any of that. Of the 2017 Broncos, tackle Donald Stephenson has announced his retirement after a terrible season. Guard Allen Barbre hit free agency and basically hasn’t been heard from since. Jamaal Charles also remains unsigned, though if any of these guys find a roster spot it will be Charles. And backup linebacker Deiontrez Mount suffered a torn achilles at the end of May that seems likely to end his career.

Other 2017 Broncos have been cast aside by the team as John Elway and company seek to upgrade the roster, and will now play elsewhere. Wide receivers Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer are off to Chicago and New York respectively, and running back CJ Anderson has found a new home with the Panthers. Aqib Talib was traded to the Rams so that Bradley Roby could start, while the advent of Marquette King saw punter Riley Dixon shipped off to join Latimer with the Giants. And former starting quarterback Trevor Siemian was sent north to serve as Kirk Cousins’s backup in Minnesota, while Brock Osweiler has reunited with his former offensive coordinator Adam Gase over in Miami.

And then there are those guys who are still Broncos, but who will see their roles and value diminish this season due to bad play, bad injury luck, or the simple reality of roster upgrades. Let’s take a look at some of the players who are most likely to fall into this category.

Green Bay Packers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

OT Menelik Watson

Easily the most obvious name on this list, Watson’s cap hit and guaranteed salary dictate that he’ll remain a Bronco in 2018. That said, the over-paid former starting tackle will either languish in a backup role or at best see some starts at guard.

OG Max Garcia

If Watson gets any time at guard, it’ll be in place of where Garcia played last season. Garcia regressed badly after seeming to show some promise early in his career, and the Broncos quickly signaled their intention to move on from him after the season. Combine that with his $86K dead money value versus possible cap savings of a comparatively huge $1.9M, and it’s clear to see that Garcia’s seat is so hot it’s throwing up smoke and sparks.

WR Jordan Taylor

Taylor has been a decent third receiver for a couple of years, but the Broncos invested heavily on wide receivers in the draft and will want to give their two rookies as many opportunities as possible. That’s got Taylor squarely on the roster bubble, which isn’t a good place to be when you’ve just had surgery on both hips. Sunshine’s main hope for keeping a spot on the Broncos’ roster is probably as a returner on special teams. But if the Broncos find a new returner they like in training camp, his total lack of dead money could make him an easy roster cut candidate.

WR Isaiah McKenzie

Drafted for his potential as an explosive returner and a possible solution for the Broncos’ hole at slot receiver, McKenzie fumbled his opportunities away in 2017 and may now find himself on thin ice. Though as a drafted player entering just his 2nd season, the team may give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

OLB Shane Ray

The former 1st round pick was slated to start this year, but an offseason setback with the wrist injury that ruined his 2017 season put a major kink in that plan. He’ll likely miss all of training camp, and with an injury return timeline that mirrors his 2017 experience, he’ll very likely continue to suffer from being under-weight and under-strength. In Ray’s place, 2018 5th overall pick Bradley Chubb will get his chance. And if the highly talented rookie plays anywhere near his talent level, Ray won’t be getting that starting job back.

ILB Todd Davis

This one might seem odd considering the Broncos just re-signed Davis in the offseason. And don’t get me wrong; that was a quality move and he’s a good player. But he’s also a very limited player. Davis excels at run defense but also provides opposing offenses a serious weakness to exploit in the passing game. Like Ray, he may see his role slip away under the influence of a rookie stepping up. 4th round pick Josey Jewell isn’t an elite athlete, but his instincts and knowledge of the game let him make stop after stop anyway. And the Broncos’ new hybrid safety, Su’a Cravens, will be taking snaps away from Davis and Jewell both as he covers tight ends and running backs on passing downs.

Brandon Marshall is also a candidate to have his role threatened by the Jewell/Cravens combo, but has been good enough (and well-rounded enough) in the past to be less vulnerable than Davis.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

FS Darian Stewart

Don’t get me wrong here- Stewart will play a lot of snaps in 2018 and will likely start most of the year. But his importance to the Broncos’ No Fly Zone is diminishing. He hasn’t been the same player under Joe Woods that he was under Wade Phillips, and he can suffer in coverage at times. With several talented young safeties behind him on the depth chart and Su’a Cravens likely to feature as a chess piece in the defensive backfield, Stewart may very well go the way of TJ Ward or Aqib Talib after the 2018 season.

Poll

Which of these players will buck the odds and keep their position/role this season?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Menelik Watson
    (85 votes)
  • 3%
    Max Garcia
    (69 votes)
  • 9%
    Jordan Taylor
    (175 votes)
  • 8%
    Isaiah McKenzie
    (160 votes)
  • 8%
    Shane Ray
    (166 votes)
  • 14%
    Todd Davis
    (265 votes)
  • 50%
    Darian Stewart
    (940 votes)
1860 votes total Vote Now

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