clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A quick look at the Broncos running back position group

The Denver Broncos running back situation before the preseason looked like one with a lot of question marks. How does it shape up now and do they need help in the form of a free agent?

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images

Every week, this author gets a little bit more of a finger on the pulse of what this team has and looks like. I’ve been that way for years.

We can do all the research in the offseason and talk about what things look like on paper. I need to see it with my eyes to start understanding what our players are capable of (especially when we add so many names as the Denver Broncos did with our running back room this offseason).


Javonte Williams is a stud. He’s looked like a beast on the field since he joined us in 2021. He’s a guy that has a rare mix of size, power, and speed that becomes a serious problem on the NFL field.

The big question with him is one of health. Last season he tore practically every “CL” tendon in his right leg. I’m thankful to see him healthy and playing again. He looked good last Friday and the offense is going to have an extra gear having him in the backfield.

Javonte is practically unstoppable in short-yardage situations. He’s flat-out dangerous in any normal run situation if the blockers open up space for him to utilize. He’s also a decent option in the passing game and more than able to pick up a blitz in passing situations.

#2 Back

Samaje Perine is a guy I was pretty excited to see us sign this offseason. He’s the perfect backup back for this team. He has the same kind of build as Williams and the same capability to churn out 4 ypc as a starter.

I liked what I saw from him as well in the preseason in the few snaps we’ve gotten to see. He looks like a very decisive back who understands how to make the cut and get upfield to churn out effective yardage.

New Kid on the Block

Look out for young Jaleel McLaughlin. He’s got the raw ability with a very high ceiling that could take Denver by storm this season. This guy has the kind of speed and quickness that will quickly turn a poor defensive play into a big gain or 6 points.

What makes me most excited about him is our head coach. Sean Payton has worked with players who had McLaughlin’s mix of speed, quickness, change of gear, and soft hands before. Payton is one of the best in the NFL at creating opportunities for these quicker backs to put up big plays. It is because of Payton that I think McLaughlin has a real chance to be the #2 back for this team before the end of the season.

Do the Broncos need to add a free agent?

Perhaps the Broncos are at least interested in Jonathan Taylor at some level. I’m not sure what to think of this. On one hand, if the price is right I am all about it. Taylor would be an upgrade to the room.

I’m just not sure if it is a necessary move for this rebuilding team, though. To get a guy like that you need to throw a wad of cash at him. Is that the missing link for this team in its first year under the Sean Payton regime? I don’t think so. I think you grow as a team in 2023 and grow winning roots. Shoot for the playoffs, but know that if this team is going to round into form, it is likely going to be in 2024.

Broncos News

Broncos sign WR Josh Hammond, place WR Jalen Virgil on IR
Hammond recorded 34 catches for 331 yards and a touchdown in 10 games for the XFL's DC Defenders in 2023.

For Broncos' O-line to get cohesion, Mike McGlinchey's return was vital - Denver Sports
Mike McGlinchey returned to practice Monday, and his O-line neighbor, right guard Quinn Meinerz, couldn't have been happier.

Broncos reach injury settlement with kicker Elliott Fry - Denver Sports
Elliott Fry is officially out, as the Broncos came to an injury settlement with him Tuesday, leaving only Brett Maher on the roster.

Broncos WR Jalen Virgil lands on injured reserve with meniscus injury - Denver Sports
Second-year wide receiver Jalen Virgil could be staring down the end of his season after landing on injured reserve.

Broncos Notebook: Competition continues for roster spots ahead of joint practices
"There’s still some competition in positions that are undecided," Head Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. "I think this week will be important for some of those spots."

Other NFL News

Ranking all 32 RB1s heading into the 2023 NFL season: Saquon Barkley not a top-five running back?
Maurice Jones-Drew ranks all 32 RB1s heading into the 2023 NFL season. Is Saquon Barkley too low after a major bounce-back campaign? And who earns the No. 1 spot? Check out MJD's full pecking order.

Eagles center Jason Kelce regrets 'cheap shot' that sparked practice fight with Colts
Eagles center Jason Kelce told reporters on Tuesday that he regretted what he called a "cheap shot" that a fight during a joint practice with the Colts.

Dolphins DC Vic Fangio turns 65, says he’s not close to retirement: ‘Still can outwork these young coaches’
Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio isn’t slowing down or thinking about hanging it up anytime soon. “No, not yet,” Fangio said on his birthday Tuesday when asked if he was close to retirement.

Titans CB Caleb Farley's father dies in house explosion - ESPN
Caleb Farley's father died when the Titans cornerback's house exploded overnight.

Baker Mayfield named Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback - ESPN
The Buccaneers have named Baker Mayfield their starting quarterback.

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan Gives Curious Answer on Trey Lance, Sam Darnold QB2 Battle - Sports Illustrated
The San Francisco coach is in no rush to select the franchise’s backup signal-caller.