While the draft is a bit less fun with fewer Bronco picks in the range of draftees any of us have heard anything about, it's still great to see the new roster taking shape and the major positive changes that GMGP has shaped over the past few months. And never too early to speculate on the record about our roster, so here is an early guess at the initial 53 - mostly mundane, with a few hot or at least warm takes sprinkled in.
QB (3): Russ, Josh J, Ryp. Josh J as safety valve if need to get someone to IR at the start of the season - waive with a handshake agreement to resign him to same deal.
RB (3): Javonte, Melvin, Boone. Not much to see here.
TE/FB (3): Albert O, Dulcich, Tomlinson. Doesn't look like the packers carried a TE/FB on their initial 53 last year, which would mean Beck is out. He is an easy guy to root for so I'd be happy to be corrected on this.
WR (6): Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler, Patrick, Washington, Cleveland. A top-heavy group, and the 6th WR spot seems like a crap shoot. Kendall Hinton and Seth Williams will be in the mix, but with Jeudy / Hamler / draft pick Washington all able to play the slot, a backup X who is a core special teamer seems most likely, and to me that points in the direction of Tyrie Cleveland.
OL (10): Bolles, Turner, Risner, Meinerz, Glasgow, Anderson, Compton, Braden, Cushenberry, Wattenberg. The tackle situation seems straightforward, but the iOL has some interesting things to sort out. Cush has been an iron man, but not a huge plus and I'm not sure he has the mobility for the Hackett running scheme, so I'm initially projecting Glasgow at center... and at the same time, Glasgow may not stay past this year and Wattenberg, while we can dream about him becoming the next Nalen/Paradis, is new and unproven and comes with significant questions about his functional strength... so it's hard to see us releasing Cush outright. Ben Braden isn't flashy, but Hackett knows him from GB and we signed him to an affordable deal, so he seems likely to stick as a backup. And that would leave Muti as the odd man out, even if we carry 10 OL. I like Muti, but his pass pro has been shaky and he may fit better in a power run scheme, so maybe we could get a late round pick for him this summer?
DL (6): DJ Jones, Dremont Jones, Uwazurike, Purcell, Henningsen, [veteran not yet signed]. I know nickel is base, but the current roster seems strangely thin to me at 3-4 DE... are two Day 3 rookies (Uwazurike and Henningsen) our starter and top backup in the 3-man front? I like both picks, but DL tend to take longer to get up to NFL strength and speed. But then who else is there? Shamar Stephen wasn't resigned, Jonathan Harris hasn't shown much, even Williams isn't a clear-cut 5-tech. I also put Williams in for now, but this strikes me an area for a vet signing to come (like Stephen last year), so I'll mark that as a bolder guess.
OLB (5): Chubb, Gregory, Bonitto, Browning, Cooper. To recap a hot take I commented on another thread, I think Malik Reed is in trouble and has played his last snap as a Bronco. I like the guy and have been rooting for him. But he is weak against the run, inconsistent as a pass rusher, and not a big contributor on special teams. Chubb, Gregory, and Bonitto are obviously roster locks; Bonitto projects to be the better pass rusher, and how many designated pass rushers who are soft on the run can we carry? Then Cooper was frankly more solid and consistent last year; they seem committed to Browning's move and he has superior athletic tools; and they gave a major guarantee to Alabama UDFA Chris Allen who is also just a better athlete with a stronger pedigree. So my OLB roster projection at the moment would be Chubb, Gregory, Bonitto, Cooper, Browning, with Allen stashed somewhere (PUP/IR?) and Reed the odd man out, unless there is an unfortunately injury during camp. Maybe we can even get a late round pick for him in a late summer trade. Again, nothing against Malik and I continue to root for the guy to find success in the NFL, I just don't think it will be with Denver.
ILB (4): Jewell, Griffith, Singleton, Kenny Young [not currently signed]. Like DL (and unlike OLB), this group is weirdly thin, and wasn't addressed in the draft as others have pointed out. Griffith seems really promising, there's just not much depth. The obvious next man up on the roster would be Strnad, but he was drafted by the prior administration and hasn't been very good when given the chance to play. I note also that AJ and Kenny Young are still unsigned as free agents, so I'm going to guess again here that one of them comes back, like KJack and Melvin Gordon, on a 1-year deal. Could be either, but I'm guessing Young because likely cheaper and Evero knows him already from LA (where he started for the first half of last season).
CB (6): Surtain, Darby, K Williams, Ojemudia, Mathis, Hicks. Maybe a bit top-heavy, but I'm excited by this group. Bassey would be the competition for Hicks, and I once thought he might be the next CHJ, but seeing as he was waived by the Broncos and the Chargers in turn last year, I have him on the outside looking in.
S (4): Simmons, KJack, Sterns, Turner-Yell. Something I've been struggling to piece together is why Jamar Johnson, whose pre-draft reports seemed so promising, wasn't able to get on the field, on defense or even special teams, or even on the game day active roster last year. PJ Locke is also a bubble guy and, while either one could conceivably be the 5th safety (like Jamar was last year), I wanted the roster spots elsewhere and so gave it to the 10th OL, and have us only carrying 4 safeties.
ST (3): McManus, Martin, Bobenmoyer. Not much to see here.
So Broncos Country, what do you think? How hot do you think my hot takes are, and where do you see things differently?