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Denver Broncos Late August Scouting Report
Charles Rives
8/24/2019

The Broncos now turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks after a HOF game that was penalty-filled and slow-moving. They will focus on creating halfback on linebacker mismatches with their guys who can make plays in space as receivers. RB Khalfani Muhammad will use his sub-4.4 speed trying to win a roster spot. Neither QB Drew Lock (comfort and rhythm) nor TE Noah Fant (1/3) had a great game. Overall, that isn’t a big deal, but both will look to upgrade their performances. DL Dre’Mont Jones dominated Atlanta’s second and third-teamers. DL Malik Reed, a tweener long shot made a case that he can play in a Fangio defense. Both need to continue like they started. It’s clear, at this point, that QB Kevin Hogan is the Broncos’ backup quarterback and should remain so even though his accuracy and timing still need work; but he made more plays in the passing game than the other QBs. The defense’s backfield was picked apart, but the starters should help there.

 

Transactions Placed DL Billy Winn on IR. Signed DL Deyon Sizer (6’4, 280/depth). Waived WR Jamarius Way. Placed rookie TE Austin Fort on IR (torn ACL). Signed OL Bisnowaty (6’5 310). Signed CB Rashard Causey (6’,195). Waived OLB Jeff Holland. Placed TE Bug Howard and CB Horace Richardson on IR. Signed OLB Dadi Nicolas (6’3, 235), OT Tyler Jones (6’3, 306) and TE/FB Orson Charles (6’3, 257). Waived/injured Aaron Wallace.

 

Offense

The Broncos have a good run-blocking offensive line. The line returns most of its starters. The offense emphasizes having the offensive linemen attack in the same way for a run or pass. OC Rich Scangarello will give Denver’s opponents a heavy dose of RBs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, with pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick thrown in to muddy the waters (a three-headed backfield) for fantasy owners. Riddick (slight shoulder fracture) will miss the first 3-5 games of the regular season. Scangarello’s offense will be tailored to the Broncos’ players with: two-tight end sets, empty backfields with four wide receivers, jet sweeps, play action passes and a variety of formations. The tight end position is expected to be a big part of the Denver Broncos offense. The Broncos will look to capitalize on Theo Riddick’s primary skill set: catching passes out of the backfield and adding another dimension to the offense. Riddick ranks third in receptions and fourth in receiving yards by running backs since he entered the league. The Broncos will emphasize throwing the ball to backs and tight ends. Riddick could catch 50 passes this year. TE Jake Butt continues to make progress in practices working towards a clean bill of health. Freeman’s 3.2 yards after contact per attempt was nearly a full yard more than Lindsay in 2018. Lock is getting the reps he needs to learn the ropes calling plays in the huddle, taking snaps under center, and operating the offense. He appears to be on his way to being the backup quarterback. The offensive line depth is not great.

Defense Fangio is all-football. He knows how to handle his players and get the most (best) out of them. This is great for keeping his players focused. Tackling will be a necessity for defensive backs. Fangio’s defense requires pre-snap discipline to avoid overreacting to motion. S Jamal Carter is becoming a safety/inside linebacker hybrid due to injuries hitting the Broncos hard. LB Dekoda Watson, has been out-played by Justin Hollins and Malik Reed. Jamal Carter could make the roster at ILB. With so much versatility on the back end, Denver could have only four ‘cornerbacks’ on the active roster (Chris Harris Jr., Isaac Yiadom Bryce Callahan, De’Vante Bausby) and more on the practice squad (Horace Richardson, Rashard Causey, Linden Stephens). Inside linebacker could be a problem with Todd Davis (calf) behind schedule in his recovery and Josey Jewell not having a great camp.

 

Training Camp Day Twelve Day twelve was a full-pad practice that lasted over two and a half hours after two off days. RB Theo Riddick was worked into team and seven-on-seven periods. RG Ron Leary continued to get some periods off with RG Austin Schlottman getting some first-team reps. WR DaeSean Hamilton returned from a hamstring injury. LB Joe Jones will be out a few weeks. Day Thirteen WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Courtland Sutton got into a fight. Pass protection was the focus for wide receivers against safeties and cornerbacks. Tight ends, running backs and fullbacks faced off (blocking) against the inside and outside linebackers. The drill is set up to be really hard for tight ends. Justin Simmons leads the defense in interceptions, but S Kareem Jackson picked off Joe Flacco twice. Fangio huddled the team after a poor first team period. Fangio huddled the team again to tell them they would practice with crowd noise over the speakers for the first time. Justin Hollins and Keishawn Bierria saw first-team work at inside linebacker after Josey Jewell tweaked his side. Lock's day saw ups and downs. OLB Dekoda Watson had a pair of pressures that could have been sacks under game conditions. Day Fourteen No pads, no tackling or pass rush, scaled back tempo and focused on game prep. ILBs Alexander Johnson and Josh Watson and CB Alijah Holder intercepted passes. WR Tim Patrick had the catch of the day (1 hand). WR River Cracraft reached back for a nice sliding touchdown. ROG Don Barclay worked with the first team in place of Ron Leary. Fangio piped in crowd noise for a second consecutive practice. Day Fifteen: TEs Jake Butt, Jeff Heuerman, and Bug Howard returned to practice. DE DeMarcus Walker has been effective against the run. TE Moral Stephens saw plenty of work. OLB Malik Reed continues to make his presence known. Flacco completed a pair of deep passes to Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders during a team period. FB George Aston must handle a multi-faceted special-teams role with Janovich out. CBs Kareem Jackson and Horace Richardson missed practice with hamstring injuries. Day Sixteen: WR Emmanuel Sanders continues to see his repetitions increase each day. S Will Parks has filled in for Kareem Jackson the last two days and delivered solid work both times. WR Tim Patrick received a lot of first-team repetitions. Patrick has been a consistent producer with few drops. "He’s a bigger receiver. Bigger receivers that don’t run fast better catch everything," Fangio said. The defense won in the duel of second-teamers. The No. 3 offense scored against the third-team defense (Brett Rypien to Trinity Benson). The defense didn't intercept any passes during team periods. Day Seventeen: TE Troy Fumagalli played some at full back. The punt-return competition has no clear front-runner. Drew Lock continued to work with the No. 2 offense, and he got a handful of repetitions with the first-team wide receivers. The chemistry is coming for WR Emmanuel Sanders and his quarterbacks, linking up on deep passes. Fant and Sutton had receptions of 15 or more yards from Flacco during the first team period. By Week 1, Sanders doesn’t expect to be on any sort of snap count. Day Eighteen: Practice was in shorts and reduced tempo, with defending tight ends the focal point. When Chris Harris, Jr. works inside at slot cornerback, he is tasked with getting rookie Justin Hollins up to speed on coverage responsibilities at outside and inside linebacker. S Su’a Cravens (illness), OLB Malik Reed (side), G Ron Leary, Todd Davis (calf), Joe Jones (upper arm), Theo Riddick (shoulder) and Andy Janovich (pectoral) missed Thursday’s practice. Day Nineteen: Hosting the San Francisco 49ers for joint practices, the offense struggled with dropped passes, low snaps, and didn’t match the intensity of the 49ers. The Broncos need some consistency from their offense. RB Phillip Lindsay had a pair of drops and a fumble. Running lanes were scarce. Passing windows were small. Receivers struggled to separate from tight coverage. QB Drew Lock (second-team) perfectly executed a play-action bootleg with every receiver covered man-to-man coverage. The defense found its form as practice went on against the run. S Justin Simmons blew up one run play and also intercepted QB Jimmy Garoppolo. CB Chris Harris Jr. had a solid day, breaking up a pair of passes. OLB Bradley Chubb managed to generate pressure on Garoppolo while facing Joe Staley. Day Twenty: The joint practices with the 49ers gave the Broncos something new to see and learn to adjust to. The 49ers used more two-safety looks than the Broncos, who emphasized the single-high-safety. The offense matched the 49ers' intensity and found its rhythm. "The value of these practices are it's controlled practice, meaning that we can control what situations we get," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "In games, you don't get certain situations." WR Tim Patrick, caught two touchdown passes. TE Noah Fant had three receptions and also a touchdown in a red-zone period. A skirmish erupted between the 49ers defense and the Broncos offense with WR Brendan Langley and TE Bug Howard being sent back to the locker room. OLB Dekoda Watson saw more first-team repetitions giving Von Miller a rest day. RG Ron Leary continued to have his repetitions monitored, with Austin Schlottmann filling in for him. No one has performed at an NFL level as a punt return man. The starters are expected to play more than they did in the Hall of Fame game and against Seattle, but it’s not clear what the quarterback rotation will be. As training camp ended Saturday, Elway said, that Drew Lock continues to get better. Elway also said that the team has "definitely made strides" since the start of the preseason, but isn’t there yet.

 

Preseason Games

Denver 14 Seattle 22

The Broncos were sloppy on offense and defense and even worse on special teams. Seattle QB Paxton Lynch looked great working off of play-action and zone reads with good throws and decisions (not so much in training camp). FB Andy Janovich hurt his shoulder and TE Austin Fort (pectoral/out 4-6 weeks)was carried off the field with a knee injury. Both will have an MRI, but it doesn’t look good for either one. The Broncos’ first-team offense had a good opening drive (field goal) and most of the players were done for the evening. QB Joe Flacco was comfortable. QB Kevin Hogan was not sharp. QB Drew Lock had the most quarterback reps and QB Brett Rypien didn’t play. Lock was 17/28-180-1-1 with a two-point conversion (WR Juwann Winfree) and three sacks. This game was better than his first. The offense needs to improve in the red zone. Malik Reed is proving to be a capable edge player. LB Josh Watson led the team with 10 tackles. P Colby Wadman had a really bad game (hang time). The punt return job is up for grabs. RB Devontae Booker struggled and RB Khalfani Muhammad was quiet (3 carries/1 pass). The Broncos had 14 penalties (11 accepted) for 94 yards (9 for some type of holding). "They were penalties during the course of the play," Fangio said. "It's either because you have poor technique or you're not good enough. And if you're either one, you've got to cheat. You've got to grab guys; you've got to hold them, so we've got to make these guys aware of the proper technique and hopefully they're good enough to play honest downs without fouling." UP: OLB Malik Reed; WR Nick Williams; S Su’a Cravens. Down: RB Devontae Booker; QB Kevin Hogan; backup offensive line. Lock needs to be more accurate, improve his footwork and show the ability to move off his first read.

 

San Francisco 24 Denver 15

The game featured some very good play from the Broncos’ defense. Many key players didn’t play for the Broncos and depth has become a concern. FB Andy Janovich (pectoral), TE Jeff Heuerman (shoulder), and RG Ron Leary (knee) did not play. They were replaced by TE/FB Troy Fumagalli, FB George Aston, TE Noah Fant, and OL Austin Schlottmann. The defense was missing a number of players (CB Bryce Callahan, SS Kareem Jackson, LB Todd Davis) who were replaced by CB Isaac Yiadom, SS Trey Marshall, ILB Alexander Johnson. In their nickel defense, they played rookie ILB Justin Hollins and OLB De’Vante Bausby. QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant ( day-to-day/minor ankle sprain) and LB Joe Dineen (shot at practice squad) were injured. Lock suffered a bad sprain. He won’t need surgery but his recovery will extend into the regular season. The offensive line remains a work in progress, but QB Joe Flacco threw the ball well. WR Emmanuel Sanders was back (Achilles) and looked good as a big piece of the offense. QB Drew Lock made some nice plays throwing and running before being injured (thumb/right hand). The backup offensive line remains a definite problem. LOT Garett Bolles struggled and his backup (Elijah Wilkinson) didn’t look any better against the 49ers backups. The Broncos must clean up penalties, pass protection and the running game. QB Kevin Hogan had a bad game. The Broncos’ starting defense played 15 plays: 32 yards allowed (12 on one run), 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 sack, 2 batted passes and a near pick six. Most of the damage was done by OLB Bradley Chubb and NT Shelby Harris. CB Isaac Yiadom had an interception and CB De’Vante Bausby nearly had another one. The 49ers averaged 6.4 yards per carry on the ground and the run defense needs to make stopping the run a priority. The backups in the secondary were also picked apart. The Broncos need some bodies at linebacker who won’t miss tackles and assignments. Except for K Brandon McManus and P Colby Wadman (up and down), the special teams were terrible. In order to get the special team in order, Denver may have to use starters and/or fire Tom McMahon. Up: OLB Bradley Chubb, WR Emmanuel Sanders, CB Isaac Yiadom, DT Shelby Harris. Down: running game, kick coverage, offensive line, QB Kevin Hogan. With Lock sidelined into the regular season, Hogan will be the default backup on the 53-man roster.

 

Denver LA Rams

Most of the Broncos’ starters will not play against the Rams. TE Jake Butt will play against the Rams.

 

Fantasy Outlook-PPR

There aren’t many Denver players getting drafted. None of the Broncos skill position players are top-tier studs. Freeman’s 3.2 yards after contact per attempt was nearly a full yard more than Lindsay’s. Lindsay may have more PPR potential while Riddick is sidelined. Hamilton is a possession receiver and safety valve. Flacco has never been a consistent fantasy producer,

 

SEASON PRROJECTIONS

QB Joe Flacco may be worth 160-261 points

QB Kevin Hogan may be worth 0-10 points

QB Drew Lock may be worth 8-87 points

RB Phillip Lindsay may be worth 174-206 points

RB Royce Freeman may be worth 93-132 points

RB Theo Riddick may be worth 51-84 points

RB Devontae Booker may be worth 9-57 points

FB Andy Janovich may be worth 31-64 points

WR Emmanuel Sanders may be worth 141-164 points

WR Courtland Sutton may be worth 137-160 points

WR DaeSean Hamilton may be worth 138-157 points

WR Tim Patrick may be worth 39-71 points

WR River Cracaft may be worth 2-11 points

WR Juwann Winfree may be worth 6 points

TE Noah Fant may be worth 108-128 points

TE Jeff Hueruman may be worth 31-83 points

TE Jake Butt may be worth 27-36 points

TE Troy Fumagalli may be worth 4 points

PK Brandon McManus may be worth 82-120 points

D/ST may be worth 98-122 points

End.

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