We’ve now reached that point on the MVB list where I have to try not to babble about potential for every player. Over the last three offseasons John Elway’s added a bunch of prospects at key positions. By saving money at quarterback, edge rusher, and wide receiver, the Broncos have been able to bolster their depth chart with talented veterans. So long as the younger players develop, the Broncos will be the envy of most of the NFL.
A quick reminder as to the guidelines I follow:
1. What do I expect them to bring to the roster going forward?
2. Positional value
3. Salary compared to both past and expected future performance
Players 48-43 can be found here.
Players 42-37 can be found here.
Players 36-31 can be found here.
Players 30-25 can be found here.
Players 24-19 can be found here.
Players 18-13 can be found here.
12. Kareem Jackson - Safety
Of all the Broncos’ 2019 free agents, Jackson was the one I was most nervous about. Big money to a 31-year old corner who may or may not switch to safety seemed like a risky gamble. Now health luck obviously played a role in derailing both JaWuan James and Bryce Callahan, but Jackson’s performance in 2019 serves as proof to me that Fangio knows how to project and fit defensive backs into his scheme better than I do.
The late season DUI suspension and all of the exciting young pieces have made it easy to forget how good Jackson was a year ago, but let there be no doubt: he was a very good beside Justin Simmons. So why is Jackson sitting on the outside of the top 10 of the MVB? He’s now a 32-year old safety with a contract that is very moveable in 2021. With the NFL’s salary cap all but certain to decline, we may be watching the last year of Jackson’s short orange and blue career.
Kareem Jackson channeling his inner Atwater. pic.twitter.com/yda2oTBsXv— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) May 30, 2020
11. Jurrell Casey - Defensive Lineman
Two of my favorite moves the Broncos made this offseason may look like one year rentals when it’s all said and done. Both A.J. Bouye and Casey were acquired by John Elway in savvy trades this offseason. If he can stay healthy, Casey is going to make Jon Robinson and the Tennessee Titans look really dumb for giving him away for just a 7th round pick.
What’s weird about Casey is he probably would have been cut or traded elsewhere if the Bengals hadn’t outbid Elway for Houston’s D.J. Reader during free agency. In the end, the Broncos got the better pass rusher and penetrator. Casey combines deft hand work with special lateral mobility. Don’t be surprised if Fangio dials up a slew of stunts featuring Casey, Bradley Chubb, and Von Miller this year.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to ignore a looming cap crunch when it comes to evaluating either Bouye or Casey’s value though. As Jeff Essary and I discussed for Cover 2 Broncos, acquiring them in a trade also means if the Broncos need to pull a rip cord to skirt the shrinking salary cap in 2021, Casey’s lack of guarantees make him a prime candidate for the chopping block.
10. Graham Glasgow – Right Guard or Center
I dug into Glasgow’s film back when the Broncos signed the former Lion in March. He should be an immediate upgrade over Ron Leary and improve both the pass protection in front of Drew Lock and help Munchak diversify the running game. I loved the signing. A+ grade loved it. This past week I studied Dalton Risner and how Mike Munchak used his guards a year ago I’m all sorts of jazzed all over again.
9. Alexander Johnson – Linebacker
Until the day I die, I’ll wonder why Alexander Johnson did not play the first four games of the 2019 season. Even after a good preseason, Vic Fangio chose to play a just-signed Corey Nelson in week 1 against the Raiders.
When Johnson finally did hit the field, it looked like a ton of bricks to Philip Rivers’ back. The 255 lb linebacker was the key to shoring up a leaky run defense and came down with a clutch interception to boot. He kept it up over the remaining 11 games and now enters his first full season preparing to be a starter. If more time in the Fangio system can also help to better anticipate opponents in coverage? He’ll earn recognition as one of the best off-ball linebackers in the league.
There are two things working against the Dino’s placement on this list. Because he got such a late start to the NFL he’ll become 2021 a Restricted Free Agent at 29-years old in 2021. Johnson may have just two seasons left in orange and blue before Elway lets another team pay the 30-year old in free agency.
8. Dalton Risner - Left Guard
Risner’s mobility is a central part of the Broncos’ blocking scheme under Mike Munchak. The Wiggins’ grad was the best player on the offensive line as a rookie. His hand work, anchor, and mental processing really impressed me when I studied his tape. Tightening up his footwork could help him become one of the best guards in the league.
7. Noah Fant – Tight End
Noah Fant was never going to be George Kittle, but he can be an even better Evan Engram. He’s an athletic freak who’s bigger and faster than Courtland Sutton. Under Pat Shurmur Fant’s athletic gifts will lead to more reps as a big receiver and less snaps trying to block the Khalil Mack’s and Danielle Hunter’s of the NFL.
Back when Pat Shurmur was first hired I went and dug into target distributions in his offenses over the last three seasons. For perspective I added those numbers up and averaged them out and then compared it to what the 2019 Broncos’ target distribution was. Over the past three seasons Shurmur’s tight ends averaged seven touchdowns and 821 yards a season, and that’s with Evan Engram missing 13 contests.
A few weeks ago I dove into Noah Fant’s rookie season and Shurmur’s 2019 offense to project where things go from here. If he put in the necessary work this offseason, the sky’s the limit.
Your Broncos’ Links
Adam and Ian debate.
Given uncertainties on the line plus planning for covid outbreaks makes this a good idea, The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider tells Broncos Country Tonight.
These 6 position battles intrigue.
The Denver Broncos have waived a rookie and put several other players on various lists. They are now at the 80-player roster limit.
How good can the second year guard become?
But the reality is that for a young offense that needed the repetitions more than most units around the NFL, the pandemic has already robbed it of growth opportunities with OTAs and team-organized practices being scrubbed. The fact that the team won’t don pads until three weeks after reporting for camp and won’t play the preseason at all further drains the reservoir of repetitions to a critical level.
As a third-year cornerback and one of the few with experience in Denver’s scheme, Yiadom should make the roster but will have to fight to be one of the top four.
Five days through COVID-19 testing of the Broncos’ 80 players, the team has not reported a positive case.
Brown remains under league investigation for Personal Conduct Policy violations, although he recently asked the league to make a determination on his status.
The deal will span five years, per Garafolo, keeping him under contract through 2024. The extension signed by coach Kyle Shanahan this offseason runs through 2025.
Beasley was supposed to report on Tuesday for COVID-19 testing but wasn’t there yesterday or today.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Payton said that he won’t be surprised if some 2020 games are suspended. He pointed to the possibility that a team will have all players at a given position group unable to play, due to testing positive for COVID-19. A member of the Competition Committee, Payton didn’t address whether those games would be rescheduled or simply scrapped. It’s possible that some games simply won’t be played, and that some teams will have fewer than 16 games when the season ends. Playoff positioning, at that point, would hinge on winning percentage.
Williams was headed into the final year of his contract and was set to make $1.85 million. His contract will toll to the 2021 season and he’ll receive an $150,000 advance on his salary.