Heading into the 2018 season, the Broncos running back group was a giant question mark. They released 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Anderson, drafted Royce Freeman in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and still had Devontae Booker on the roster. They also signed a local undrafted free agent running back to add some competition to the group.
Well, that undrafted free agent and this question mark of a unit quickly became a strength of the Broncos offense in 2018 and now moving forward into 2019.
Vic Fangio wasn’t afraid to be honest and critical about the Broncos’ roster this morning.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensBSN) February 27, 2019
But he was very high on the team’s RB group: pic.twitter.com/fSXNE0y3Fr
Fangio called the Broncos running back group one of our strongest units on the team.
“I think we’re very pleased with our running back position. We’ve got three or four guys that we’re very happy to have. We feel fortunate in the depth that we have, and the youth. I look at that as one of our strong suits with the team. We’re happy to have Royce [Freeman] and Phillip [Lindsay]. I think we’re in good shape there.”
Phillip Lindsay quickly became a star for the Broncos and he topped 1,000 yards his rookie season and hit the end zone a total of 10 times. His speed and physical nature despite his size was evident on the field and will enter 2019 as the focal piece in the Broncos offense.
Now, Lindsay isn’t the only other young back to be excited about moving forward. Third-round pick Royce Freeman who was expected to be the breakout backs is a perfect compliment to Lindsay’s speed and explosiveness. He’s a physical north/south runner who tops 230lbs and can be the Broncos bruiser. The move to a full on zone offense also figures to be beneficial for Freeman as well since he is a one-cut downhill runner. The last coaching staff really didn’t use him correctly or enough but I expect Rich Scangarello to use both Lindsay and Freeman correctly in 2019.
Rounding out the group is Devontae Booker. He is a bit of a forgotten man and someone who gets some unnecessary hate from fans. He’s not a starter but has proven to be a solid third-round down back for the Broncos. He can pass block, work as a receiver, and even carry the ball if needed. He’s a necessary back to have in your rotation and someone who will likely have a role once again in 2019. Also keep in mind that Booker was projected as an excellent fit in a zone-blocking scheme coming out of Utah so this move back to zone could also be beneficial for him.
At the end of the day, this group is solid and will likely add another piece or two in the late rounds of the draft or during the UDFA period to round out the group. I expect the Broncos to lean on this group a bunch in 2019 and hopefully find out a way to effectively use both Lindsay and Freeman in this offense.