The Denver Broncos’ preseason has concluded and the deadline for the team to trim their roster down to the final 53-man limit is at 2:00 PM Mile High time on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. The final 53 won’t even be the final 53, but we do like to see if we can predict where head coach Nathaniel Hackett will go with each position group before that deadline.
Here is my best guess of what that final 53-man roster will look like on Tuesday.
QUARTERBACK (2): Russell Wilson and Brett Rypien
The team is Russell Wilson’s moving forward, but behind him developed quite an interesting competition to back Wilson up this season. If you had asked me just over a week ago who had this spot locked down it was the wily veteran Josh Johnson, but head coach Nathaniel Hackett made a call for consistency heading into the final preseason game and it sure looked like Brett Rypien was the more consistent of the two in the game. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if either were cut, but I’m going to pencil in Brett Rypien here just based on that final game performance.
Out: Josh Johnson
RUNNING BACK (3): Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon II and Mike Boone
This position is pretty straight-forward. While I liked two of the younger guys playing this weekend, it is clear who the big three in Denver will be if they stay healthy. I would expect a fairly even split of carries between Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, but with Williams getting a slightly larger share this season. It will also be interesting to see how they use Mike Boone now that he is fully healthy.
Out: JaQuan Hardy, Devine Ozigbo
WIDE RECEIVER (6): Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Montrell Washington, Brandon Johnson and Seth Williams
The season-ending injury to Tim Patrick threw the back end of this position group into absolute chaos in training camp. The competition for the final roster spots was fierce and we have been pleasantly surprised by the results. I think ultimately we’ll see Tyrie Cleveland get cut and the last two roster spots secured by Brandon Johnson and Seth Williams. Unfortunately, both Kendall Hinton and Jalen Virgil will head to the waivers. We could see Cleveland sign to PS and ultimate sent to the IR with a chance to return when he has fully healed from the throat injury.
Out: Kendall Hinton, Jalen Virgil, Darrius Shepherd, Tyrie Cleveland
TIGHT END / FULLBACK (5): Albert Okwuegbunam, Greg Dulcich, Eric Saubert, Eric Tomlinson and Andrew Beck
I think if rookie tight end Greg Dulcich had been a healthy participant all through training camp, we might have seen a guy like Eric Tomlinson be swapped out for an extra offensive lineman or wide receiver. However, given how things went it is probably good for the team to begin the season with all of these guys on the active roster.
Out: Dylan Parham
OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Garett Bolles, Billy Turner, Dalton Risner, Quinn Meinerz, Lloyd Cushenberry, Calvin Anderson, Netane Muti, Graham Glasgow and Luke Wattenberg
This group will likely change once Tom Compton is activated off the PUP list, but for now, the group as a whole is looking good on paper. The depth is solid and the starters all look like they will be quality starters. This could be the best offensive line Russell Wilson has had in years.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6): Dre’Mont Jones, DeShawn Williams, D.J. Jones, Eyioma Uwazurike, Matt Henningsen and Mike Purcell
Despite an impressive preseason finale for McTelvin Agim, we should take into account that many of the roster decisions are long since made once that final preseason game occurs. Agim was bullying people all game long, but of all the cuts this one likely points towards too little, too late. I do think we’ll see him catch on somewhere. I’m hoping it’ll be on the Broncos practice squad.
EDGE RUSHER (6): Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Baron Browning, Nik Bonitto, Aaron Patrick and Jonathan Cooper
I’ll be raving about the safety position group's depth here in a minute, but that pales in comparison to what Denver has going on from their edge rushers. With the caveat of staying healthy, given neither Bradley Chubb nor Randy Gregory has played a full season since 2018, this group looks dangerous. Baron Browning looks like a starter in his own right, so it’ll be interesting to see how Defensive Coordinator Ejeiro Evero works him into the rotation. Rookie Nik Bonitto also flashed in the preseason. Given the injury histories of the two starters, it is probably a really good thing they have such great depth here.
INSIDE LINEBACKER (3): Josey Jewell, Jonas Griffith and Alex Singleton
Thank the football gods for Jonas Griffith being well ahead of schedule on rehabbing the dislocated elbow he suffered on the second play of the first preseason game. The position group here is lacking and Denver will need Griffith back by Week 1 to ensure they don’t have to rely on the reserves here. Josey Jewell is solid and pairing him with Griffith should give them solid play inside.
CORNERBACK (5): Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, K’Wuan Williams, Damarri Mathis and Outside Addition
I really like the top three cornerbacks the Broncos have heading into this season, but if any of them miss any time then Denver could be in trouble. The depth is incredibly weak here. This is the primary reason I think the Broncos should move on from Michael Ojemudia and look to bring in a corner from the outside to start the season. Hopefully, a veteran guy that can hold down that 4th cornerback spot on the depth chart and play well if called upon.
Out: Faion Hicks, Donnie Lewis Jr., Ja’Quan McMillian, Austin Bless, Essang Bassey, Michael Ojemudia
SAFETY (5): Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, Caden Sterns, P.J. Locke and Delarrin Turner-Yell
Unlike the cornerback position, the Broncos have dudes all the way down the line here. I would classify Delarrin Turner-Yell as the fifth guy on the depth chart, but he’s fresh off a monster game in the preseason finale and played well enough to earn my game ball for his performance. Denver should have a ferocious safety group in 2022.
Out: J.R. Reed
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
KICKER (1): Brandon McManus
There was never any competition here. Brandon McManus is the kicker in Denver in 2022 and that was never going to change.
PUNTER (1): Corliss Waitman
However, there was a punting competition and while I had initially assumed Sam Martin would be the guy that assumption was vanquished over the last two weeks of the preseason. Waitman not only out punted Martin, but he was also holding the ball on field goal duty on Saturday. Given all of this, I think going with Corliss Waitman would be the right choice this season.
Out: Sam Martin
LONG SNAPPER (1): Jacob Bobenmoyer
It’s no secret the Broncos have tried out a lot of different long snappers this preseason. There seems to be something they don’t like about Jacob Bobenmoyer and it has little to do with the fact he carried a solid punt into the end zone for a touchback in that final preseason game. They’ll need to begin the season with a long snapper, so given he is the only one on the roster that would seem to be his job to keep Week 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep looking, however.
Physically Unable to Perform (PUP): Tom Compton (confirmed by team already)
Tom Compton has had a back issue all training camp and he will start the regular season on the PUP list with eligibility to return a month into the season. Smart to work him back slowly as injuries have been an issue along the offensive line during camp.
PRACTICE SQUAD (16)
NFL rules allow up to 16 players on a team’s practice squad. This will give the Broncos a lot of flexibility to keep guys they have an interest in despite having to cut them to start the season. Based on the players I am projecting to the 53-man active roster here, these would be my Broncos players that should make it onto the 16-man practice squad.
Practice Squad: Devine Ozigbo, Kendall Hinton, Jalen Virgil, Quinn Bailey, Cameron Fleming, Sebastian Gutierrez, Malik Reed, Kana’i Mauga, Faion Hicks, J.R. Reed, McTelvin Agim, Tyrie Cleveland, Michael Ojemudia
I purposely didn’t add 16 players as there will be other players outside of Dove Valley that the team will likely sign to their practice squad after being cut by other teams.
What do you think of this 53-man roster projection? Who should I have cut and who should I have kept? Let me know in the comments section below.