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Which Bronco will step up in the leadership role this season?

The Sheriff has ridden off in the sunset, and people are looking for "that guy" to replace him as a leader in the locker room and on the field.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

A few days ago, Broncos writer Andrew Mason was asked about leadership among the Broncos' offense now that Peyton Manning is gone.

Although all of Mase's answers were solid choices, his mention of Matt Paradis intrigues me and would be my bet for the player who emerges a true leader for the offense.

Emmanuel Sanders is a gigantic favorite when it comes to both personality and talent, and I imagine his positive energy and infectious smile do wonders to lift the mood during practice, while his "clutchiness" (hey, if Stephen Colbert can make up words, so can I!) is always going to ignite the sidelines during a game. But being a good motivator and a good leader aren't the same thing, and a player could certainly be one and not the other.

With his modest ranch-life upbringing where a strong work ethic was instilled early on, Paradis strikes me as exactly the type of player who would make an outstanding leader - in the locker room, in the weight room, on the field, in the community.

And what better position than the Center? Metaphorically it's perfect - the center of the team, the messenger for the field general to his troops, the player holding everyone accountable for their roles in the performance.

Quarterbacks are naturally expected to be team leaders because their position on the field demands that they dissect, decide, direct. But the center is perhaps the second-most important person on the field for the offense since it also his job to decipher the defensive lineup and communicate that to the rest of the offensive line. And we all know how critical that offensive line is to the success of a single play - much less the entire scheme.

The fact that Paradis went from a practice squad player two years ago as a rookie to the starting center last year - and the only Bronco to play every single snap the entire season - speaks volumes about his "lead by example" quality. And the fact that Peyton Manning gave the first-time starter high praise last season says all you need to know about his intelligence on the field.

Add to this that Paradis is also a super nice guy with a ton of humiltiy as well as a sense of humor, and you've got Team Captain written all over him. (Heck, electing him president seems like a fabulous idea, actually, so we might want to set our sights higher...but I political talk here).

Regardless of which players step in to fill the leadership role Manning left behind, there's no shortage of good candidates. While position battles will take precedence when training camp gets underway next week, it will also be interesting to see which Broncos step up on offense as team leaders.

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