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3 things I think I think: Training Camp Battles

Three battles to watch.

We’re less than two weeks away from Broncos football! That means it’s time to take another look at my Way-Too-Early Final 53 and share some thoughts on the battles that will have the most impact on the Broncos game day roster.

Tight end - Will Noah Fant win the 1?

Laurie touched on this one yesterday, but I wanted to share a couple thoughts on it. It seems notable that Von Miller said Noah Fant has been the most impressive rookie so far, and his athleticism should do wonders for the offense. If he doesn’t win the starting job outright, I’d bet he’s logging the majority of snaps at the position by the Broncos’ week 10 bye at the very latest.

DBs - Is Kareem Jackson a corner or safety?

If you’ve followed OTAs and Minicamp, you’ll know the former Texan has gotten significant work at both positions. Early on, I believed he’d be a corner for sure, especially when the Chris Harris contract impasse looked like it was at its ugliest.

Now I’m not so sure. I took a deep dive into Justin Simmons’ 2018 film last week and saw a player who is at his best and playing robber coverage. He has the mentality to bang in the box against the run and the range to play deep, but I’m not sure a former corner wouldn’t be an upgrade in the deep parts of the field.

I’ve yet to look at more than bits and pieces of Will Parks as I’ve studied other players. As of now, I consider him the wildcard in all of this. In 2018 he played a lot of the Dimebacker role Sua Cravens was supposed to fill, and he looked darn good doing it. There’s a chasm between those responsibilities and a safety’s assignment in Fangio’s D.

Then of course, there’s Isaac Yiadom. If Kareem Jackson plays the majority of his snaps at safety, Yiadom’s playing time sees a significant uptick. Coming out of Boston College in 2018, the rub on Yiadom was that he’d need time to adjust to the league. When he entered the fray week 3 to play 31 snaps against Baltimore, he was as green as grass. How much will an off-season to prepare and tutelage from Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell help?

Will Parks showed serious flashes down the stretch. Will it carry over to a new role?

Quarterback - Is the rookie a Lock for #2?

Every training camp since Peyton Manning retired has been breathless speculation about every pass by the media. 2019 won’t break the trend. Joe Flacco is the day 1 starter, but all eyes will be on Drew Lock’s performance. Back in 2016, it was pretty clear from the jump that Paxton Lynch was in over his head, and nothing out of the Spring suggests the former Missouri Tiger is about to follow suit.

But this is Broncos Country, where the bar for every quarterback is insanely high. It speaks volumes about what the front office (and the rest of the league) think of Kevin Hogan when he resigned for 1-year and 1.29 million. If Lock is meant to be a future starting quarterback in the league, he should make mincemeat of a guy who’s completed all of 60 passes for 641 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 7 picks in his NFL career.

If Lock beats out Hogan, he’s all of one bad fall from Flacco come playing time. I’ve gone on record since before the draft about how he’s best served with a redshirt year. At the same time, Flacco’s got a pretty lengthy injury history. Everyone who bleeds orange and blue knows who they want to come in if ol’ Joe goes down.

Your Broncos Links

An exciting camp battle will be shaping up at tight end - Mile High Report

By all accounts, the Broncos improved tremendously at that position when they picked Noah Fant, tight end out of Iowa, as the 20th overall pick in the 2019 draft. And given that the Broncos’ new quarterback Joe Flacco is a big fan of his tight ends, having a strong TE corps is going to be key to a successful Broncos’ offense.

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Center Connor McGovern - Mile High Report

The elder statesman of what looks on paper like the best Denver Broncos line since the Sheriff was in town.

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Linebacker Todd Davis - Mile High Report

The reason Vic Fangio didn’t draft Devin Bush.

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Tight End Jeff Heuerman - Mile High Report

Jeff Heuerman has an opportunity to thrive in a new offense.

Which skill player is most critical for Denver’s offensive success? - Mile High Report

With both Phillip Lindsay and Emmanuel Sanders coming off of injuries, which offensive star is most critical to Denver to have when the season starts?

Denver Broncos: Emmanuel Sanders hopes to be ready Week 1 - Mile High Report

Coming back from an Achilles injury is no easy task, but Emmanuel Sanders is hoping he’ll be ready to go for the Denver Broncos by Week 1.

The Denver Broncos Top 100 included an all-time Raider legend - Mile High Report

What an embarrassment that the Denver Broncos couldn’t find 100 players to honor in their Top 100 list that didn’t include an Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame player.

Hall of Fame door could open for Denver Broncos Randy Gradishar - Mile High Report

The news that the 2020 class is tentatively set for 20 members could (finally) right an enormous oversight.

NFL analyst ranks the 25 best quarterbacks of all-time - Mile High Report

Both John Elway and Peyton Manning found themselves in the Top 10 of this all-time list.

NFL Links

Is Adrian Amos a free safety or a strong safety? - Chicago Tribune

I asked defensive backs coach Ed Donatell about this last week and he said the Bears do designate their safeties as free or strong but the coaches have, in the past, gone with left and right designations. Amos played more free than strong during his rookie season. The coaching staff does train the safeties to play both positions because at times, in certain looks, they rotate and responsibilities change. I agree that they need to have a safety that is around the ball more and I think the Bears acknowledged needs at the position by drafting two of them. There isn’t a huge difference between the two positions as both are required to come down in the box and provide run support and they also have responsibilities in coverage.

Will Josh Jacobs be a training-camp holdout? – ProFootballTalk

Vic Tafur of reports, citing unnamed league sources, that “negotiations have not been going well” between the Raiders and Jacobs, and that “[t]here is a growing sentiment that Jacobs will not be at camp when the rookies report on July 23.”

John Ross changing numbers to “start everything over” – ProFootballTalk

Ross is changing from No. 15 to No. 11 in a move that he said represents his bid to “start everything over” after a disappointing first two years in the NFL. The switch isn’t as simple as just throwing on a new jersey as the NFL requires a player buy out jerseys with the old number before going through with the change. Ross has gone through that process this offseason.

PFT 2019 storyline No. 20: Can the young QBs in the AFC East compete with the Patriots? – ProFootballTalk

On the second night of the 2019 draft, the planets fully aligned in a way that likely guarantees yet another New England division title (11th straight) and/or AFC title-game berth (ninth straight), at least for one more year.

PFT 2019 storyline No. 19: Which young offensive coach will live up to the hype? – ProFootballTalk

The 2019 hiring cycle saw the pendulum swing sharply in the direction of Sean McVay. More specifically, anyone who has worked with him, worked for him, and/or shared an elevator with him. Three of eight head-coaching jobs went to coaches with McVay connections, sort of.

Is this the year age catches up with Drew Brees? – ProFootballTalk

With Patriots quarterback Tom Brady winning Super Bowls and running fast (for him) 40-yard dashes at age 41, it might seem that the quarterback position can be played well into a player’s 40s.

The Case for the Zero Blitz | Football Outsiders

Hopefully this analysis shines a light on just how effective blitzing—the Zero Blitz in particular—can be at disrupting an opponent’s passing game. Unsurprisingly, creating pressure on the quarterback is a major factor in this, and the Zero Blitz has shown to be the best at doing so, since it allows for an extra pass rusher. The fascinating aspect is that this aggressive blitz isn’t as risky as it is assumed to be, allowing a similar big-play percentage as its more conservative counterparts. If defenses want to start dictating play to the offense, the evidence points to further utilization of the Zero Blitz.

Building the Perfect NFL Safety | The Draft Network

With another NFL draft cycle in the books, it is time for evaluators like myself to recalibrate.