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Getting to know the seven undrafted free agents joining the Broncos roster

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Let’s get to know the seven undrafted free agents the Broncos agreed to terms with.

Vanderbilt v Tennessee Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos officially announced earlier today that they have agreed to terms with a total of seven undrafted free agents. These players face long odds of making the team, but recent history tells us that at least one usually ends up making the team and some even turn into stars on the roster. Will the next Broncos undrafted star be in this group? Let’s get to know these guys and find out.

Western Michigan RB LeVante Bellamy - 5’9”, 192lbs

The Broncos added the ultra-productive and speedy former Western Michigan Broncos running back LeVante Bellamy to their roster as an undrafted free agent.

Bellamy played a total of four seasons with Western Michigan and was pretty productive during his four season with the team. During his four years, he totaled 617 carries for 3,720 yards and 35 career rushing touchdowns. He also averaged a very solid 6.0 yards per carry. He also added 57 receptions for 370 yards and 1 touchdown,

Now, this past season for Western Michigan, Bellamy had a breakout year for the Broncos, He totaled 266 rushes for 1,472 yards and a whopping 23 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and added 15 receptions for 55 yards to his resume as well.

That’s a very productive season. Hard to imagine why he went undrafted.

Here’s what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had to say about LeVante Bellamy in his annual Draft Guide.

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Western Michigan, Bellamy was the lead running back in head coach Tim Lester’s offense. After a productive junior season, he put together an impressive senior campaign, ranking in the top 10 in the FBS in rushing yards and finishing his career fourth in WMU history in rushing yards. Bellamy has the field acceleration to erase pursuit and stick his foot in the dirt, exploding away from trouble. Due to his limitations, he is somewhat of a specialty runner who can be a luxury to a backfield if proves his value on special teams. Overall, Bellamy doesn’t have the desired body armor, run strength or blocking chops by NFL standards, but his top-end speed and athletic traits make him a big-play threat whenever he touches the football, giving him a fighting chance.

Bellamy has a good shot at making the Broncos 53-man if he is able to play like he did at Western Michigan this summer for the Broncos. He’s limited to a third-down/returner role in all likelihood, but his speed, elusiveness and ability to make people miss in the open field give him a solid shot at doing just that.

Now, I don’t think he’s in danger of taking Royce Freeman’s job. I say this because Freeman is a totally different kind of back. He’s a power runner who can play all three downs if needed and can pass block. Bellamy’s limitations as a pass blocker make him a risky keep as the lone back behind Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. If they keep four backs, I really like Bellamy’s chances of making the team.

Also in Bellamy’s favor is the $25,000 signing bonus he received as well as $35,000 in guaranteed money. Broncos made quite a commitment here to him so that really helps his odds.

Texas Tech Safety Douglas Coleman III - 6’0, 203lbs

The Denver Broncos added Texas Tech safety Douglas Coleman III to their roster as an undrafted free agent.

I fully expected the Broncos to address the safety position much earlier than this during the 2020 NFL Draft, but they made have unearthed a potential steal here in Douglas Coleman.

Coleman played a total of four seasons at Texas Tech and is coming off a breakout year for their defense. During his four-year career, Coleman totaled 137 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 sacks, 9 interceptions, 15 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 defensive touchdowns. This past season for Texas Tech, Coleman totaled 63 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 2 pass deflections.

The Broncos depth at safety isn’t the greatest so Coleman has a chance to latch on as a backup for them. He’s coming off a season where he totaled 8 interceptions, so he has a nose for the ball. He’s more a free safety so being the potential backup to Justin Simmons is likely. Trey Marshall is really is main competitor for the third safety role as of right now, but the road to the fourth spot is wide open.

Vanderbilt Quarterback Riley Neal - 6’5”, 232lbs

The Denver Broncos agreed to terms with former Vanderbilt quarterback Riley Neal as an undrafted free agent.

Riley Neal played four seasons at Ball State and one season at Vanderbilt before entering the 2020 NFL Draft. During his five seasons in college, Neal totaled 8,978 yards for 55 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He completed 59.6 percent of his passes throughout his career and also added 378 rush attempts for 1,410 yards and 15 touchdowns.

This past season for Vanderbilt, Riley totaled 1,585 yards passing for 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He completed 57.8 percent of his passes in college and rushed for 47 yards this past season as well.

Neal is likely just a camp body with the Broncos having a starter in Drew Lock and a backup in Jeff Driskell already. RIley will be competing with Brett Rypien for the Broncos third quarterback job.

Wake Forest wide receiver Kendall Hinton -6’0”, 195lbs

The Denver Broncos added yet another wide receiver after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft when they agreed to terms with Wake Forest wide receiver Kendall Hinton.

Hinton is a former quarterback turned receiver who was a one-year starter at Wake Forest. During his one season of starting, Hinton totaled 73 receptions for 1,001 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Here is what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had to say about Kendall Hinton in his annual draft guide.

SUMMARY: A one-year starter at Wake Forest, Hinton was the slot receiver in offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero’s offense. After struggling to find the field in his first season as a receiver in 2018, he put his name in the transfer portal, but with Greg Dortch leaving for the NFL, he decided to stay and fill the slot role, emerging as a legitimate NFL prospect. Hinton became the first Wake Forest player to score a touchdown in five different seasons with natural ability with the ball in his hands. He padded the stat sheet with a lot of underneath production, but he also flashed the ability to make plays in traffic and downfield. Overall, Hinton needs to add branches to his route tree and play with better body position, but he has been a quick study at receiver due to his natural athleticism and ball skills, giving him a chance to compete for slot work in the NFL.

Hinton now joins a suddenly crowded receiver room that includes five rookies who all have one thing in common and that thing is speed. He faces some steep odds of making the team, but a solid summer in the slot role could help earn that spot or at least a spot on the practice squad.

Tartleton State wide receiver Zimari Manning - 6’2”, 200lbs

The Broncos once again added another wide receiver in Zimari Manning who played his college ball at Tartleton State.

He played two seasons at Tartleton State and put up some solid numbers. During his two seasons, Manning totaled 112 receptions for 2,409 yards and a whopping 34 touchdowns. This past season, Manning caught 68 receptions for 1,462 yards and an impressive 22 touchdowns. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch and averaged 121.8 yards per game as well. He played at a small school but these are impressive number nonetheless.

Manning like the other rookie wide receivers will join a crowded receiver room with the Broncos. He had a productive college career but the large talent jump he’s facing here could take some adjusting to get too. He’s an intriguing udfa project for the Broncos.

Central Arkansas offensive tackle Hunter Watts - 6’8”, 320lbs

Many Broncos fans wanted the team to draft an offensive tackle but the only one they added at the conclusion of the draft would be Central Arkansas’s Hunter Watts.

There isn’t much out there on Watts but he’ll get to work with Hall Of Fame offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Being the only offensive tackle added, he must have something that peaked Munchak’s interest, but my expectations are low.

Wake Forest cornerback Essang Bassey - 5’9”, 191lbs

The Broncos added their second cornerback of the weekend when they added Wake Forest cornerback Esaang Bassey as an undrafted free agent.

Essang Bassey is a 5’9”, 191 pound cornerback who played his college ball at Wake Forest. He ran a 4.46 40-time, had a 39.5 inch vertical, and 12 reps on the bench.

He played four seasons at Wake Forest and put up some solid numbers during his time there. During those four season, Bassey totaled 227 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 5 interceptions, 45 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble and 1 defensive touchdown. This past season, he totaled 60 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, 1 interception, and 11 pass deflections.

Here is what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had to say about Bassey in his annual draft guide.

SUMMARY: A three-year starter at Wake Forest, Bassey played both left and right cornerback in defensive coordinator Lyle Hemphill’s scheme. He became a mainstay in the Demon Deacon’s secondary as a sophomore, starting 39 straight games to finish his career, and is one of only two defensive backs in this draft class to reach 50 passes defended in his career (Maine’s Manny Patterson the other). Bassey plays with agile feet and fluid hips, putting his processor to good use from off coverage to read and attack. While he is an urgent athlete, his competitive appetite and below average size measurables too often lead to negative plays on tape. Overall, Bassey is a productive corner with athletic feet and drive quickness, but his lack of size and overaggressive tendencies drastically hurt his chances of securing full-time NFL work, projecting best in the slot.

After A.J. Bouye, the givens at the Broncos cornerback position are pretty hard to find. When healthy, Bryce Callahan is a talented corner but his health is far from a given right now. After that, you have third-round pick Michael Ojemudia, jounreyman DeVante Bausby, former second round pick Duke Dawson, Isaac Yiadom, and Devontae Harris.

That’s a lot of question marks and certainly gives a corner like Bassey to elevate himself up the depth chart some this summer. He projects best as a slot corner and there might be an opening there depending on Callahan’s health so again, there’s a potential spot for Bassey. Add in that he’s a physical corner and can tackle and you have a Fangio corner in the making.

Final Thoughts

As a whole, this appears to be a solid and very productive group from top to bottom. You have Bellmay who scored 23 touchdowns in 2019, you have Zimari Manning haul in 22 touchdowns in 2019, and you have Douglas Coleman with 8 interceptions. That’s not mentioning Hinton’s 8 touchdowns and Bassey’s years of production at Wake Forest.

The receivers are both intriguing, but both face long odds of making the roster. Hinton as a slot receiver could surprise some, but we shall see. Zimari Manning played against nobodies in college but it’s hard to ignore his production. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against the elevated competition. Even 3rd or 4th string corners will be more talented than what he saw at college. He is an intriguing talent though.

I think we can see up to three of these guys make the final roster. Bellmay has a chance to latch on as a third or fourth running back and fill that scat back/third down back role. Douglas Coleman has some ball skills and the depth at safety right now is pretty thin so there’s a job for him there. Finally, the player most likely to make the team is Essang Bassey. He’s a Fangio corner who is a slot only corner. He can tackle, he can cover, he has good athleticism, and fits the scheme very well. I think he cracks the final roster.

What do you think Broncos Country?

Poll

Which UDFA player excites you the most?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    RB LeVante Bellamy
    (332 votes)
  • 31%
    S Douglas Coleman III
    (564 votes)
  • 0%
    QB Riley Neal
    (16 votes)
  • 3%
    WR Kendall Hinton
    (54 votes)
  • 6%
    WR Zimari Manning,
    (107 votes)
  • 15%
    OT Hunter Watts
    (274 votes)
  • 24%
    CB Essang Bassey
    (434 votes)
1781 votes total Vote Now