Now that the dust has settled on the Denver Broncos 3-0 preseason, it’s time to look ahead. There are 14 days until kickoff against the Giants. By Tuesday at 4 pm EST, George Paton will need to have the roster cut down to the final 53.
Here’s my last best guess at first iteration of the 2021 Broncos.
Brandon McManus, Sam Martin, Jacob Bobenmoyer
- There hasn’t been competition for these three spots since Max Duffy was cut on June 17th.
- After watching Corey Bojorquez launch moon shots in the preseason finale, I hope the Broncos keep an eye on the Rams punter competition. There’s little chance L.A. cuts Johnny Hekker, right? Doing so would cost them $1,187,000 in a dead cap hit and free up $3.75 million in cap space.
Sweet infant punting Jesus, Corey Bojorquez. Just clipped a 70-yarder that bounced out at the one-yard line. I think a 56-yard average on his four punts.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 29, 2021
10 Defensive Backs
Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, Patrick Surtain II, Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons, Caden Sterns, P.J. Locke III, Jamar Johnson, Michael Ojemudia+
- Callahan looms as a potential trade chip. Moving him would create $7,176,471 in cap space and cost $1,333,334 against the cap.
- Ojemudia will probably land on Injured Reserve once we reach the regular season, but he has to stay on the active roster through the cut deadline.
- The Broncos will probably carry a few practice squad corners. Kary Vincent makes a ton of sense as a developmental prospect, and Nate Hairston is immediate insurance if another injury strikes before OJ’s healthy. Both could draw interest from around the league.
George Paton said this right before the Vikings game.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 29, 2021
The Broncos won't trade Simmons, Jackson, Fuller, Darby, Surtain, and Sterns. https://t.co/Q0LseubQBT
Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Justin Strnad, and Baron Browning
- When the Broncos waived Josh Watson last week it seemed to suggest a move towards Barrington Wade or Curtis Robinson on the practice squad.
- Linebacker is also one spot we could see Paton add outside talent to the practice squad.
Justin Strnad shoots into the backfield to muck up the run and DeShawn Williams cleans up. pic.twitter.com/DVR63LysfR— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 14, 2021
4 Edge Rushers
Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper
- If Andre Mintze can make it through waivers, I suspect he lands on the practice squad.
- It wouldn’t surprise me if Derrek Tuszka finds his way onto someone’s roster as an ED4. The numbers game in Denver hurts him. He’s also light at the point of attack and doesn’t bring enough in his repertoire as a rusher. His fluidity in space and how he can pitch in on special teams should help him going forward.
6 Defensive Linemen
Shelby Harris, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Purcell, McTelvin Agim, Shamar Stephen, DeShawn Williams
- Jonathan Harris would make a ton of sense for the practice squad if he can make it through waivers.
- Marquiss Spencer will probably land on the practice squad.
3 year 3 Broncos I'm excited for in 2021— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) March 2, 2021
Noah Fant pic.twitter.com/KN4cdggdLA
7 Wide Receivers
Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, Trinity Benson, Diontae Spencer, Seth Williams
- The preseason finale helped Spencer because none of the other returners did much with their chances. When you add that to the veteran’s performance against the Seahawks, he’ll make the gameday roster.
- Williams big catch in the Vikings game and his long run after Drew Lock’s dumpoff in Seattle will have him on rival GM’s radars, so I suspect Paton will hold onto his 2021 sixth round pick.
- I expect Kendall Hinton and Tyrie Cleveland to make the practice squad if they don’t land on another roster.
Rolling left Drew Lock finds Seth Williams who makes hay after the catch pic.twitter.com/CkEuOnbpyt— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 22, 2021
9 Offensive Linemen
Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, Bobby Massie, Calvin Anderson, Quinn Meinerz, Netane Muti, Cameron Fleming
- The Broncos starting line looks like Bolles - Risner - Cushenberry - Glasgow - Massie.
- Fleming could be sweating the axe after a disappointing preseason following a rough training camp. He could also be trade bait to a team like the Chicago Bears who are in desperate need of tackle help. Cutting him would carry a $1 million dead cap hit that could be offset if he signs elsewhere. Trading him costs would cost $255 thousand.
- Quinn Bailey makes sense if the Broncos dump Fleming. Fangio mentioned him as a potential competitor for RT1 at the beginning of camp, and while that always looked unlikely, he’s looked better than the veteran.
- Drew Himmelman will be on the practice squad unless a team claims him off waivers. The 6’9” 323 lb. 24-year old was the highest paid undrafted free agent rookie from this year’s class.
- Austin Schlottmann could also make it as a veteran reserve if no one poaches him. NFL teams are allowed six. Schlottmann’s played 530 offensive snaps the last two years and brings center/guard versatility.
Cameron Fleming is beat around the edge. Drew Lock never feels the pressure. Strip sack. pic.twitter.com/atsZt3k8Yu— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) August 29, 2021
4 Tight ends/fullbacks
Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck
- I believe the Broncos will try to keep Adam Prentice on the practice squad.
- Tom McMahon’s presser last Thursday made it clear Saubert and Beck had made the roster.
- An unsung wildcard is Fant’s health. It sounds like he could play against the Giants, but if there’s any doubt it could make sense to hold onto an extra tight end or Prentice.
- Shaun Beyer is a sneaky practice squad candidate.
If Albert Okwuegbunam can stay healthy and hold onto his chances, he's going to wind up a threat for 10 touchdowns a year.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 3, 2020
4 Running Backs
Melvin Gordon, Javonte “Pookie” Williams, Royce Freeman, and Mike Boone+
- We heard Boone’s injury was a 4-6 week injury on August 13th, which puts his week one status in doubt and it’s risky to enter the regular season with two ball carriers.
- Freeman’s not as explosive as Pookie and doesn’t possess Gordon’s vision, but he’s a steady passing down back in a throwing league.
- A wild card is how Freeman’s been floated in trade talks. Before Boone’s injury it seemed Paton would try to move the veteran before cutting him. Perhaps Crocket’s a serviceable short term replacement if the 2018 3rd round pick can net a draft pick.
Javonte Williams has all the tools to become a star with the Broncos. pic.twitter.com/ndNC7eBPtx— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) May 17, 2021
Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock
- I think the Broncos will choose to gamble on losing Brett Rypien to waivers. They have two quarterbacks who could start, a numbers crunch across the roster, issues on special teams, and George Paton will have confidence he can replace find an adequate replacement.