The Denver Broncos have an exciting young group of rookies and, frankly, any one of those guys could have a breakout season. There are also a couple of non-rookies that are likely more poised for that breakout year than a first-year player would be.
During today’s roundtable discussion with the Mile High Report staff, we throw our list of candidates into the ring for consideration. Add your breakout candidates in the comments section below.
Which player(s) do you think will break out this season, and which player(s) do you think might disappoint?
- Taylor: I’ll take DeMarcus Walker as my breakout candidate. With his weight back up & playing in his natural position, he’s poised to start providing that interior pass rush pressure our edge rushers need to be able to thrive. With Walker menacing the middle (even if it doesn’t result in impressive box stats), Von Miller and Bradley Chubb can eat greedy. My disappointment candidate is a bit relative: Jake Butt won’t have the breakout red-shirt rookie campaign we’d hoped. If he was going to, he should of come out and clearly surpassed Heuerman for the TE1 role. So I don’t think Butt will play a big role in 2018- but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a good TE for the Broncos in the future.
- Scotty: Royce Freeman and Courtland Sutton! Disappoint? Probably the Broncos third corner.
- Hart: I think Royce Freeman is going to have a tremendous impact as a rookie and believe Courtland Sutton will provide a significant boost to the team’s aerial assault. As far as players who will disappoint, I can’t pinpoint anyone in particular, but do have concerns about the cornerback depth behind Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby.
- Sadaraine: The breakout season this year belongs to Justin Simmons. We saw a good season from him in 2017. 2018 is the year his name gets put on the map as one of the best safety talents in the NFL. The disappointment season is going to be Bradley Roby. Too many people hype up his average to above-average game and make it seem like he’s the future. Protip: He’s not. (Editor’s note: He is.)
- Adam: Breakouts are supposed to be a bit of a surprise, and so there are some guys that are a little too obvious for me to choose. However, Phillip Lindsay looks like a guy who could have a major impact on the team in multiple ways. He will get some run with the offense in passing situations, and looks like a solid scat back. He will also be huge on the return team, and has shown he could be a solid gunner on punt coverage. The disappointment will come from the secondary. Roby will never be able to live up to Aqib Talib, and so he will be the biggest disappointment. That’s not fair to him, but that’s the natural progression of things.
- Joe R: I think Shaq Barrett is going to blow people away this year, just in time to earn a fat paycheck somewhere else. Outside of the secondary, I think Garett Bolles will disappoint. Everyone’s flying high on the performance of the line so far, but he’ll still be average. Decent at times, woeful at others.
- Pete: Two players breakout this season, and both are on offense. I think Sutton and $wag Chad Kelly breakout this year. Demaryius Thomas will get hurt, he just will, and the same likely goes with Case Keenum. When Demaryius Thomas goes down (he has the last 2 years in week 1) Sutton will fill in and never really go back. I’ve said it to many eyerolls, but Sutton has Randy Moss skills, just not quite as blindingly fast. Once he’s in, he’s never going back. As for Kelly, this is the “likelihood” that our QB gets hurt like they have the last two straight years. If (and I hope he doesn’t) but if Keenum goes down, I think Kelly goes in the game and plays really good. I’m not sure if he lights it up, but I think he plays really good and opens eyes to ignite the “Is he our future franchise QB?” talk.
- Ian St: Let’s have some fun with this, so I’ll go with Case Keenum as the breakout player. Just about every analyst and outlet thinks Keenum’s 2017 season with the Vikings was a fluke and he’ll return to Earth — meaning the seasons prior to that one. I say he not only matches what he did in Minnesota, but he’s even a little bit better. I don’t think this player will disappoint, per se, but Bradley Roby will have the spotlight on him big time this season. Any mistake will get amplified by the fanbase and used as the evidence Denver shouldn’t have traded Talib. Can he live up to those expectations?
- Laurie: I think Royce Freeman has already “broken out,” so I’m going to take a flyer on Adam Jones. At 35 and not playing great for the past two years, not many think he can go back to 2014-15 greatness. And I don’t either. But I do think he’ll be surprisingly good for us as the third corner this season. I think Booker is going to be the disappointment. For whatever reason, Vance Joseph cannot take control of moving guys around on the depth chart like he needs to, and so I imagine Booker will get more touches than he deserves and will therefore show again and again that he can’t run more than three yards at a time.
Which player will have the biggest breakout season in 2018?
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