With the free agency season about to kick off for the Denver Broncos, it is a great time to step back, take a look at the roster, and play a little armchair GM leading up to all of the excitement of possible free agent signings, trades, and of course the NFL Draft.
All of this is my own personal opinion based on the tried and true eye test of what I’ve seen from these players on the field. For the sake of brevity, I’ll be leaving out guys that didn’t see the field in any significant way in 2019. Enjoy the discussion, join the subjective debate, and share your thoughts good or bad in the comments.
All snap count numbers come from https://www.footballoutsiders.com/. All contract information is from https://www.overthecap.com. Any football statistics noted are from https://www.pro-football-reference.com.
To finish up with the offense, we’ll look at the quarterbacks and running backs.
Player Rating Key:
1 - Project / developmental - lacking necessary skills to contribute as it stands today
2 - Backup quality - Can play, but isn’t a guy you want out there every snap
3 - Mediocre starter - Doesn’t bring anything special to the table, but is able to do the job
4 - Good starter - An above-average talent
5 - Blue chip player - Top 10 talent in the NFL at what he does
Unit Rating Key:
1 - Critical Need - lack of talent at starter and depth
2 - Lacking at least one starter
3 - Mediocre need
4 - Solid talent and depth
5 - Elite talent level
Drew Lock - 3
The fan in me wants to give Lock a 4, but I just can’t do it. Being real about a young QB is in my mind very important. Lock has a lot to prove still and crowning him a franchise QB before he’s played 6 games in the NFL is nonsense of the highest order.
He’s definitely starting quality though and I don’t think that can be argued with. In his 5 games to end the season he showed sound ability to run the offense, make reads, and throw the ball with accuracy.
The challenge heading into this season is can he learn a new offense and also start advancing his game to the point where he’s able to start reading coverages. That will lead to him being able to throw guys open or know where his single coverage matchups are so he can use the big arm he has to get big chunks of yardage.
He’s still a young player and oftentimes doesn’t make it past 2 reads, but the offense last season really lent itself to that and that is a Offensive Coordinator’s best friend in keeping the game simple enough for a rookie QB to run.
Nevertheless, the kid oozes potential and all of Broncos Country is chomping at the bit to see how well he develops in 2020.
Joe Flacco - 2
Can I be real for a moment with all of you? I honestly think it is pretty silly that I’m even writing a second on Flacco. Yes, he’s on the roster. Yes, he is also under contract. Yes, he saw more than 10% of the snaps last season. So since he checks all the boxes of players this review series covers, I’ll reluctantly put him in here.
Signing Joe Flacco was a joke. It has to be one of the dumber moves John Elway has made in his tenure as the GM of the Broncos (and yes, that includes drafting Paxton Lynch...the jury was out on that rookie unlike Flacco).
The Good: Joe Flacco has played a long time in the NFL.
The Bad: No mobility, sucks under pressure, can’t read defenses, doesn’t throw into tight windows, and is an F- in the leadership category.
Unit Rating - 3
While I’m not sold that Lock is anything close to an all-star player, he’s definitely the QB of the 2020 season for the Broncos. I don’t think anything is going to happen that will change his status as the starter. The problem is that the Broncos need a backup plan and one that more matches what Lock can do as a QB.
That means Flacco is not going to be back with the team. The price tag is too high. And I highly doubt the plan is Brandon Allen. He honestly didn’t impress at all outside of his first game as a starting QB where the defense had no idea what he was capable of or what the Bronco offense would look like since his game is so different than Flacco’s.
Look for the Broncos to sign a backup QB who’s been a stable veteran in the league and can hopefully be a big help to Lock’s development.
Phillip Lindsay - 4
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. I’m a firm believer that Linday is not the guy you want as your lead back on the first two downs. Obviously, he’s shown he can do it. The problem is that it doesn’t maximize his skillset.
If Lindsay were to develop his pass catching skills and move his game a little towards what we see from a guy like Christian McCaffrey, he could be the kind of dynamic weapon that allows your offensive coordinator to absolutely screw with the minds of the defenses the Broncos face.
Now if the plan is to keep starting Lindsay, he’s a 3. He’s not consistent enough and lacks the size necessary to carry the ball as a workhorse back. No one (especially him) wants to hear it. Many may call me a hater for stating it, but it is just reality.
Lindsay is a dynamic player who is a playmaker and what the offense should be doing is putting him in situations to create mismatches and stress on the defense. While the team has been experiencing a lack of talent at RB for a few years now outside of Lindsay, the biggest detriment about that is likely in developing Lindsay to maximize his skillet instead of having him try to be an all around NFL back.
Royce Freeman - 2
We’ve all been looking and hoping for Freeman to be the kind of 2 down back who can set up defenses by pounding them with a consistent power run game to set them up for the killing speed of Lindsay, but he just has never become consistent enough to be that guy for the Broncos.
Some fans might look at his 3.8 ypc average and think that’s pretty decent, but the problem is that when you look closer it really isn’t. There are a few games where Royce pops off that tend to mask just how often he’s only averaging 3.5 ypc or less.
At this point, Freeman is due for taking a backup role with the team and the Broncos need to bring in some fresh talent at RB in order to inject some more power into the Broncos offense.
Unit Rating - 2
This group is in my mind one of the most upgradeable groups on the Broncos offense. They really need a new back in the mix who can help establish their offense and let Lindsay morph more into the dynamic playmaker he’s capable of being instead of trying to be the 3 down stud that he’s not.
Look for the Broncos to make a move in the draft as well as free agency to add to the RB room. I don’t think they will be big spenders on a RB, but I really liked the move last season to bring in Theo Riddick and a move like that again this season would be welcome (hopefully this time with better luck of the guy not getting injured).