Now that the Broncos have largely finalized their roster for the 2018 season, it is time to begin to figure out who fits where. Specifically, where will new players like running back Royce Freeman or guard Sam Jones fit in September?
There are upwards of a dozen competitions this offseason concerning a variety of positions on both sides of the ball. Here are the best five Broncos position competitions to watch as the season unfolds.
Booker has been on the roster since 2016, seeing decent playing time as a backup to C.J. Anderson. In two seasons Booker has amassed over 1,400 total yards. His tenure seems to give him the early advantage to take over as the starter Week 1.
However, the Broncos drafted Freeman in the third round with the 71st overall pick, a good vote of confidence for the rookie. It seems that Freeman will be the main contender with Booker for the starting position.
Insert Henderson who was practically a non-factor in 2017, having only seven carries in the NFL to this point. Despite the microscopic resume, Henderson seems confident. While it is unclear what prompted it, the running back tweeted, “Doubters already??? I love it.” Could Henderson upset the favorites for the starting nod?
Finally, the undrafted free agent Lindsay looks to replicate Anderson’s formula in the NFL from undrafted rookie to starter. If Anderson could do it, why not Lindsay?
With a competition this open, anything can happen and the competition for starting running back could be the most interesting on the team.
Entering his fifth season with the team, Bradley Roby seems to have the upper hand in the battle for the second cornerback spot. However, Head Coach Vance Joseph said he wants newly signed veteran Tramaine Brock to give Roby a run for his money. The winner of the competition will play every down opposite Chris Harris Jr., while the loser will become the third cornerback.
Roby and Brock are pretty evenly matched when looking at their resumes. Roby has six interceptions in four years while Brock has 11 interceptions in eight seasons.
Ideally, the Broncos want Roby to reach a new level and win the job outright as he is almost four years younger than Brock. However, the Broncos are in a win-now mentality and so the better player will get the job. Who will succeed Aqib Talib and usher in a new era of the “No Fly Zone?”
If the running back competition was considered a free for all, this competition could be turned into a season of Survivor. The right guard position is the biggest hole on the team and the Broncos have loaded the roster in an effort to find a clear starter. Max Garcia, Connor McGovern, and Billy Turner all played snaps last season. However, a clear starter has not emerged from the existing personnel. Therefore, the Broncos selected Jones in the sixth round and signed undrafted rookie Austin Schlottmann in an effort to find a player that sticks.
The winner of the competition will protect quarterback Case Keenum while the runner-up will become the backup. Everyone else will be either cut or placed on the practice squad.
The 2018 season marks Paxton Lynch’s third year in the NFL and also his third quarterback competition. The former first-round pick has been beaten out for the starting job his first two seasons, both times by Trevor Siemian. Unlike the previous two years, Lynch will be competing just for the privilege to backup Keenum.
Like Siemian, Lynch’s quarterback battle will also be with another former seventh-round selection in Chad Kelly. Kelly spent most of 2017 on the non-football injury list and has yet to take a snap in the NFL.
General Manager John Elway has vocalized his support for Lynch repeatedly during the past few months, often reminding the media that he knew it was going to take some time for Lynch to develop. However, how long is too long? Can his career afford another lost QB competition?
Second-round pick Courtland Sutton excited many Broncos fans when Elway took him off of the board. Sutton comes to Denver with an eye-popping highlight reel out of Southern Methodist. Even though he was drafted in the second round, Sutton was considered as a possible first rounder by some draft analysts.
The Broncos drafted a receiver in Sutton who they hope will become more than a third receiver. The current receiving corps is aging with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both in their 30’s. Also, Sanders missed a large part of the season last year due to injury. To top it off, both receivers are costing the Broncos big money at a combined $23 million cap hit for 2018.
That being said, don’t expect the change to happen this offseason. Sutton will likely be the third wide receiver in Denver while Thomas and Sanders will remain in their place. However, if Thomas or Sanders miss games in 2018, Sutton will step in and the fight will be on.