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GIF Horse - Projecting the Denver Broncos roster

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What will the 2018 Denver Broncos look like? The roster is pretty much set, but there might be a few players still on the bubble heading into the final preseason game.

Courtland Sutton will have a big impact for the 2018 Broncos.
Casey Barrett

We’re less than a week away from the roster cut down Denver Broncos fans. Seems like it was only yesterday we were looking at all the players Denver had brought to camp, but some careers may end on Saturday.

With that in mind, I wish every player listed below nothing but the best of luck in football or wherever life may bring them, but let’s take a look at what the 2018 roster will look like.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

  1. Case Keenum
  2. Chad Kelly

On the Bubble

Paxton Lynch

Kelly’s arm has impressed, but if the Broncos are going anywhere in 2018 it will be Keenum that takes them.

Paxton who? The Chad Kelly hype is very real, as the 2017 Mr. Irrelevant has led some to believe the Broncos future at quarterback is backing up their present. It may be a bit early for that, but Kelly has shown an impressive arm, poise and accuracy with the opportunities he’s been given. He’s still really young and would likely struggle if Keenum goes down, but the debate over a veteran QB to back up Case seems all but settled.

Then there’s the 2016 first round bust who was trying to help his girlfriend sell her house on social media, the guy who’s done nothing but regressed the longer he’s been in the league. If Elway and the Broncos can retrieve any value on Lynch via trade, they should do so. The question with the third QB spot isn’t if Paxton should stick on the team, but if the Broncos should gamble with 2 quarterbacks on the active roster this season or look to add a veteran in case of emergency.

Running backs

  1. Royce Freeman
  2. Devontae Booker
  3. Phillip Lindsay
  4. De’Angelo Henderson
  5. Andy Janovich

On the Bubble

Dave Williams

Lindsay has outshone Williams despite going undrafted and should be a lock for the roster and some passing down snaps this year.

Fresh legs is the story here. Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay have turned a ton of heads throughout camp and have earned sizeable roles in the offense. Booker may start but Royce looks like he’ll be the real workhorse while Lindsay has opened eyes for both his work in the passing game as well as his versatility. He can carry the ball if needed and brings special teams value. I’d expect the Broncos to stash David Williams on the practice squad if he can make it through waivers as he’s been productive in spurts.

Wide Receivers

  1. Demaryius Thomas
  2. Emmanuel Sanders
  3. Courtland Sutton
  4. DaeSean Hamilton
  5. Tim Patrick

On the Bubble

Isaiah McKenzie, River Cracraft, Jordan Leslie, DeAndrew White, Bryce Bobo, Mark Chapman, John Diarse,

There’s been rumors the Broncos took Sutton because Will Hernandez became a Giant. Denver is lucky he did.

The Broncos receiving corps is going to be an interesting numbers game that bears monitoring. If Joseph and the coaching staff elects to keep 6 receivers, McKenzie has shown the most of the remaining names and brings special teams value. If the powers that be prefer Adam Jones and Phillip Lindsay returning the ball though, no one else has done enough to stick over some of the bubble guys on defense.

I spoke of Tim Patrick here, in case you missed it.

Tight Ends

  1. Jeff Heuerman
  2. Jake Butt

On the Bubble

Austin Traylor, Matt LaCosse, Brian Parker

Other

Troy Fumagalli - IR

The Broncos rookie 5th rounder out of Wisconsin has been dealing with issues related to a sports hernia for awhile now. The best guess is that the Broncos will IR him to stash him for next years’ camp when he’s fully healthy. Heuerman and Butt should be locks for the roster and if the Broncos only keep 3, Traylor is the favorite for that last spot, though LaCosse has shown the kind of versatility that could make him hard to part with, playing special teams, H-back as well as tight end.

Offensive Line

  1. Matt Paradis
  2. Ronald Leary
  3. Garett Bolles
  4. Jared Veldheer
  5. Connor McGovern
  6. Billy Turner
  7. Sam Jones
  8. Cyrus Kouandijo

On the Bubble

Austin Schlottmann, Max Garcia, J.J. Dielman, Austin Fleer, Andreas Knappe, Leon Johnson, Elijah Wilkinson, Jeremiah Poutasi

McGovern looks to have saved Keenum from disaster, on this play as well as over the course of the whole season.

Connor McGovern has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season so far. After starting five games last year he’s grabbed onto a starting position tightly enough he could earn a penalty. It won’t always be pretty, but the Broncos 2018 line isn’t as scary as I feared it’d be.

Depth behind the starters is an issue, while the play above really shows Sam Jones ceiling and why he should fit onto the roster, he’s a rookie and shouldn’t be expected to step in this year. He’ll provide depth on the inside but does have collegiate tackle experience. Outside of Jones, Neither Kouandijo or Turner have impressed at all. Dielman could find a spot on the roster if the coaching staff feels it needs his experience at center behind Paradis.

Pray for Bolles and Veldheer’s health. Keenum’s depends on it.

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

  1. Adam Gotsis
  2. Derek Wolfe
  3. Shelby Harris
  4. Domata Peko
  5. DeMarcus Walker

On the Bubble

Zach Kerr, Kyle Peko, Clinton McDonald, Antonio Simmons, Caushaud Lyons, DeShawn Williams, DeQuinton Osborne,

All but invisible a year ago, Walker looks to have found new life since his position change.

I spoke of Walker last week, but it’s worth repeating: he looks like he may live up to his 2nd round pick status since switching positions. That’s huge after he was so anonymous last year that most fans forgot he was on the team. He’s a bit of a tweener on the line, but one that should cause havoc inside.

Behind him will be an interesting math problem. Neither Peko nor Kerr have shown so little that they shouldn’t make the team, but how many defensive linemen do you keep when the base defense fields 3 down linemen? McDonald likely lost his roster spot with his shoulder injury and the emergence of Walker, but could be a solid contributor if Joseph elects to keep another veteran.

Edge Backer

  1. Von Miller
  2. Bradley Chubb
  3. Shane Ray
  4. Shaquill Barrett

On the Bubble

Jeff Holland, Marcus Rush

Ray’s been slept on so long he may be underrated this year.

The Broncos edge rusher position has earned a ton of ink since Elway selected Bradley Chubb 4th overall and deservedly so, but it’s Shaq and Ray that make this group so scary. Both have and could start for most teams in the league and if the four remain healthy it should ensure that the pass rush can keep coming in waves. Quarterbacks beware.

Holland deserve to stick on the roster and looks like just the latest front 7 find by Elway. The hope here is that Denver doesn’t err and attempt to sneak him onto the practice squad (see Kyle Sloter for more on that one) as the league had to have noticed plays like this.

Linebacker

  1. Brandon Marshall
  2. Todd Davis
  3. Josey Jewell
  4. A.J. Johnson

On the Bubble

Zaire Anderson, Keishawn Bierria, Jerrol Garcia-Williams, Joe Jones,

I gave the Broncos linebackers a lot of attention in GIF Horse last week, but it could be another space squeeze for Joseph. Elway just outbid 10 other teams for Johnson, so he’s probably a lock for the roster, but Anderson, Bierria and Garcia-Williams could contribute. Of those three, Zaire has shown the most through 3 preseason games, but the math is working against him.

Cornerback

  1. Chris Harris
  2. Bradley Roby
  3. Tramaine Brock
  4. Adam Jones
  5. Branden Langley
  6. Isaac Yiadom

On the Bubble

C.J. Smith, Marcus Rios, Michael Hunter

Smith bounced back from a rough game against the Vikings to show something VS Chicago. It probably won’t be enough with Adam Jones signed.

If Yiadom and Langley didn’t have draft pedigree, or if Elway hadn’t just signed Adam Jones, C.J. Smith would have a roster spot secured. Alas he’s came to Denver off waivers and doesn’t contain the same kind of “upside” that those ahead of him do, or the proven track record of a player like Pacman. He did show flashes this summer and should stay on Elway’s short list if injury hits the unit.

Safety

  1. Justin Simmons
  2. Darius Stewart
  3. Su’a Cravens
  4. Will Parks
  5. Dymonte Thompson

On the Bubble

Shamarko Thomas, Trey Marshall, Jordan Moore

Dymonte Thompson (35) let Denver know he came to play on this 4th down stop.

Fully expect the Broncos to hold onto Cravens even if he shows nothing this preseason. That’s how good he was during his rookie year Washington, as I alluded to here. Thomas brings a lot to the special teams and especially kick offs, but may get crunched by Jones’ signing and what Thompson showed in D.C.

Specialists

  1. Brandon McManus
  2. Marquette King
  3. Casey Kreiter

SUMMARY

If you’re one of those mathematical types, you’ll notice that only 49 spots were actually “locked” on my projection. Gun to my head, I would guess Traylor, Holland, McKenzie and veteran QB round out the rest of the roster, but Zach Kerr could also sneak on.

Another blind guess, but if there’s one “surprise” cut from the list above, I’d think it’s Derek Wolfe. It seems unlikely, but with Gotsis and Walker flashing so much the last few games his hefty price tag seems rather onerous.

Lastly, blame my orange shades, but this Broncos team looks better than I dared hope when camp began. There are still some serious question marks when it comes to the offensive line and the secondary is thin, but fans have reason to be optimistic this coming season.

Still Grazin’? A quick correction

  1. I noticed a few fans comment on GIF Horse last week that Josey Jewell looked as if he was assigned the gap on the GIF I shared describing his pursuit to the ball. You’re right, I goofed up. That was the wrong file. My mistake and I appreciate you all keeping me honest.