The past 72 hours have been fast and furious for fans across Broncos Country and the entire National Football League. It’s easily one of the busiest times of the year as teams across the league dwindle down their rosters to the final 53 players who will embark toward gridiron glory in 2023.
The Denver Broncos have always been a franchise that has had success with undrafted free agents. Last week, I felt confident two UDFAs would make their final roster. Much to my surprise, the team kept four undrafted rookie free agents, which is now a team record.
It wasn’t just Jaleel McLaughlin and Alex Palczewski, but tight end Nate Adkins and outside linebacker Thomas Incoom. The latter were definitely a surprise in my eyes. After his performance against the Rams in the final game of the preseason, I believed Albert Okwuegbunam would be the candidate for the Broncos’ fourth and final spot at tight end. My assumptions were wrong, and George Paton and Sean Payton elected to keep the former South Carolina Gamecock in the fold for the upcoming season.
For the 19th time in the last 20 seasons, a rookie college free agent has made our initial active roster out of training camp.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 30, 2023
This year, we have a team-record four.
» https://t.co/CygGzc9E7j pic.twitter.com/xaQnZaTJic
Payton noted that his consistency and versatility were major factors in their decision to keep him in the fold. Moreover, that they didn’t feel he would clear waivers and make it to their practice squad.
“He was just one of those guys who day in and day out got his job done. He’s got some position versatility. You see him playing some fullback. He’s kind of that ‘F’ tight end if you will,” stated Payton. “He can play on the ball, but he’s probably a little bit better off the ball. He was someone we considered drafting, and he was someone that was very sought after, after the draft. We felt it would be hard to get him to a practice squad spot.”
With respect to Incoom, I think most fans felt he was a longshot to make the roster, but his play on special teams and pass rushing ability seemed to win out over the likes of Aaron Patrick and several others on the squad. It’s unlikely that he sees many meaningful defensive snaps with Frank Clark, Nik Bonitto, Randy Gregory, and Jonathan Cooper ahead of him on the depth chart, but he will get quality reps on special teams while Baron Browning recovers and starts the season on short-term injured reserve.
All and all, I’m really glad the new coaching staff put a priority on keeping some of their better UDFA pickups. It’s just their first year in the league, but all four of them have the potential to be solid contributors for the team moving forward. It’s quite clear that Payton is reforging the roster with his own handpicked guys and placing a preference on their long-term ability versus players acquired under previous regimes. A trend that will undoubtedly continue in the years to come.
What do you think Broncos Country? Did Denver make the right call by keeping the four players above or should have they opted to go a different route? Sound off in the comments section and let me know what you think.
As always, thank you for reading and here are several stories for today’s edition of Horse Tracks.
Broncos News and Tidbits
Former Broncos WR Brandon Stokley embracing his second act: Talk radio host. "You’ve got to ask the tough questions."
In 2016, Brandon Stokley took a chance on 104.3 The Fan, and vice versa. Seven years later, "Stokley and Zach" is has become a Denver radio staple.
‘We have to be the guys that bring this team up’: T Mike McGlinchey embracing opportunity for O-line to key Broncos’ success
"Our group has to be right," McGlinchey said of the O-line, "because everybody else can’t be right [if we’re not]."
Mile High Morning: Pat Surtain II, Justin Simmons selected to ESPN’s list of top 100 NFL players
The two players added to their offseason honors with top 100 rankings in ESPN’s poll.
Rebooting Broncos QB Russell Wilson for 2023 in five steps
Sean Payton's in Denver. The Broncos' offensive line's been overhauled. The defense should still be solid. But how will Russell Wilson play in 2023? Here are five steps toward more efficient play from the QB.
Report: Sean Payton strikes again, signs Saints TE Lucas Krull to Broncos practice squad
Report: Sean Payton struck again, signing recently-waived New Orleans Saints tight end Lucas Krull to the Denver Broncos practice squad.
NFL News and Tidbits
NFL practice squad tracker: Team-by-team roster signings ahead of 2023 season
NFL.com is keeping an eye on the players signed to every team's practice squad ahead of the 2023 regular season.
Superboot: Australia’s Lou Hedley takes the longest route possible to the NFL
There’s no one sure route to the NFL, but there’s also never been one quite like Australia's Lou Hedley’s.
Fantasy Football Rankings 2023: Sleepers, breakouts, busts by top NFL model that nailed Samuel's down season - CBSSports.com
SportsLine simulated the new NFL season 10,000 times and identified 2023 Fantasy football sleepers, breakouts and busts for 2023 Fantasy football drafts
Tom Brady, Julian Edelman joke about unretiring in new commercial with NFL legends - CBS Boston
We are not sure how long Tom Brady can get away with it, but for now, the man enjoys a good unretirement joke.
Bears counting on Fields to deliver with arm as they try to climb out of NFL's cellar
Can the Bears finally turn things around?