Denver Broncos July Scouting Report
Training Camp: joint practices are not allowed; practices must be held at Bronco facilities.Players are not expected to return until the start of training camp.
John Elway did the best thing any general manager can do for a young, questionable quarterback: make the offense as simple as possible and give Lock a plethora of weapons to choose from in the passing game. It seems like quarterbacks who are given weapons early on are the guys who have early and sustained success. Elway has assembled playmakers for Lock who are capable of winning in different and multi-dimensional ways. The 2020 season still will come down to whether Lock is ready to step up and lead this team, but the rest of the roster is looking strong. Lock will need to show consistency on a play-by-play and game-to-game basis. The Broncos face one of the toughest schedules in the NFL for a second-straight season, giving Lock low floor and high ceiling.
On paper, the Broncos are AS fast as the Chiefs, but can they play as fast? With Shurmer and Shula, the Broncos are built to thrive in 11 personnel. Fant, Sutton (Sutton led all NFL WRs in broken tackles on receptions with 12), Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler/DaeSean Hamilton will be schemed open early, providing quick and easy reads. Then Shurmer will take well-timed shots down the field. Hamilton, is an accomplished route runner who is fearless catching passes over the middle in traffic. Shurmer will have specific packages and plays designed to get Hamler the ball. However, Hamler has a small catch radius, so Lock's passes will have to be on the mark. TE Noah Fant will open the season as the starter and is the Broncos' top breakout candidate. Expect TE Albert Okwuegbunam to be used in a complementary role. Denver will likely have the youngest offense in the NFL, and it typically takes pass-catchers a season or two to really find their groove. However, Denver has two all-pro running backs to help the offense. RB Melvin Gordon is one of the best running backs in the league against stacked boxes and should thrive with the beefed up interior offensive line (G Graham Glasgow and C Lloyd Cushenberry). Both Gordon and Lindsay can run the outside zone and make explosive plays. Gordon, will receive 208 snaps and RB Phillip Lindsay 190 snaps.
"When you add explosive players to the roster, it not only helps them as players to have an impact, but it also helps the rest of the guys," Shurmur said. "I really do think you have to spread the ball around. Typically, in games that you win and play good offense, when you look at the stat sheet at the end of the game, there's probably six or seven guys that caught passes and there's probably two or three guys that ran the ball. I really do think if you're going to play good offense, you need threats outside, inside and in the backfield. It's going to be fun."
(Gordon and Lindsay) "They'll have specific roles," Shurmur said. "I think there's times when they could both be on the field at the same time. There's times when one or the other will be on the field. You have to have collision balance," Shurmur said. "Your ability to break a tackle, bounce and create what is normally a good gain into an explosive one. So, they share those traits, they both have been very productive in this league, and we intend to use both of them."
Denver's defensive unit had a solid 2019, but needed to be better in pass pressure, takeaways and scoring defense. 2020's defensive line group is a strong mix of veterans and youth and appear poised to be one of the best position group battles. McTelvin Agim is built like the prototypical three-technique defensive tackle, who can win with a combination of strength, leverage, and quickness and he's capable of playing a variety of positions on the defensive line. Jurrell Casey (31) is the best interior pass rusher the Broncos have had in years, AND should perform at a solid level. Justin Strnad can be an every-down linebacker with his natural instincts, good feel for coverages, closing burst and ability to match up with a TE slot and stop easy completions. But if the defense is to improve in a major way, they need several veterans to step up: Isaac Yiadom; Duke Dawson; De'Vante Bausby; Bryce Callahan; Dre'Mont Jones; Shelby Harris; Alexander Johnson; Bradley Chubb.
(Bryce Callahan) "He's running full speed," Donatell said. "He'll be right in our camp and ready to go." (A.J. Bouye) "He plays in the outside lanes and he brings size and length," Donatell said. "He's a very instinctive player—he's been very prooductive over the years. He's really fit in well with our group.â€ (Michael Ojemudia) "What I can tell you is he's really, really in the top part of the class as far as his learning curve," Donatell said. "He's picked up our scheme in a virtual sense and about as good as you'll find in a rookie. He's off to a good start. We're just really eager to get him on the field and get started coaching him in a physical sense." (Jurrell Casey) "This is a great veteran in our league," Donatell said. "He's been a great interior player, but he adds to the pass rush. That's really important to us. To give us that push up inside with the edge rushers we have, that's very valuable." (Alexander Johnson) "We found a role for him and a way to feature his style," Donatell said. "He kind of brings that roughneck element to our defense. We really like where he is. I don't know how to explain it, but he's way ahead of where he was because he's got a major role on this team right now.â€
The team has struggled to find consistency at punter since Britton Colquitt (2015). Sam Martin has a lot of experience in the NFL and flipping the field will be crucial. to give the Broncos every advantage possible. He is a consistent punter who can win the field position battle and be a great complement to the Broncos strong pass rush. The Broncos need to find a player who can consistently return punts and kicks and help win the battle of field position. Whether it's KJ Hamler, Diontae Spencer, Tyree Cleveland, Khalfani Muhammad or Trinity Benson, it will make the Broncos better.
(KJ Hamler). "What he's done in college, his production, it should naturally carry over into the NFL," McMahon said. "He's got great speed, he can create his own returns." "The one thing he's going to have to do is he's going to have to catch a bunch of NFL punts here in the preseason," he said. "They're much different than what you see in college. If we get the ball in his hands, we can expect big things from him, both in the punt return and kick return game." (Diontae Spencer) "The one thing he did is he really studied the punter and the kicker," McMahon said. "He knew where that ball was going to be kicked the last seven or eight games much, much better than he did the first six." "I think he can win pre-snap now where he's headed," McMahon said. "He's got courage. He's a rare, small guy that can return kickoffs up the middle. We had a lot of schemes last year where we asked him to return up the middle. He hit it up the middle. The biggest thing he's got to work on now is breaking those tackles."
DE Bradley Chubb (torn ACL) and CB Bryce Callahan (foot) are both healthy and ready to play.
Denver will lose the ability to test different plays and will have to rep the plays that they'll likely run in a game. With training scheduled for July 28th, QB Drew Lock has been throwing routes and working out with a few teammates at local parks. Some of the players have been in and out on the sessions traveling elsewhere to train. OL Dalton Risner, TE Noah Fant, and RB Phillip Lindsay have been consistently with Lock. When the entire group is together, they get crucial reps running the full playbook.
Players who could be traded before the season: DaeSean Hamilton; Tim Patrick; Jeff Heuerman; Troy Fumagalli; DeMarcus Walker; Todd Davis; Isaac Yiadom.
Orangeman's Projected 53-Man Roster ( Pre-Camp).
Players who could be starters or be cut before the season starts: Isaac Yiadom, cornerback; DaeSean Hamilton, slot receiver; Davontae Harris, cornerback; Jeff Heuerman, tight end; Garett Bolles, offensive tackle; Tim Patrick, wide receiver. Quarterbacks: Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel Running Backs: Phillip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon, Royce Freeman Wide Receivers: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton Tyrie Cleveland Tight Ends: Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Nick Vannett, Offensive Tackle: Garett Bolles, Ja'Wuan James, Elijah Wilkinson, Quinn Bailey Offense Guard: Dalton Risner, Graham Glasgow, Netane Muti, Center: Lloyd Cushenberry, Patrick Morris, Defensive Line: Jurrell Casey, Mike Purcell, Shelby Harris, Dre'Mont Jones, McTelvin Agim, Christian Covington Edge: Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Jeremiah Attaochu, Malik Reed, Derrek Tuszka Off-ball Linebackers: Alexander Johnson, Todd Davis, Justin Strnad, Josey Jewell, Justin Hollins Cornerbacks: A.J. Bouye, Michael Ojemudia, De'Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom Nickel Corner: Bryce Callahan, Essang Bassey Safety: Justin Simmons Kareem Jackson Trey Marshall Duke Dawson Special Teams Brandon McManus (PK), Sam Martin (P), Jacob Bobenmoyer (LS) Practice Squad: QB Brett Rypien RB Levante Bellamy, WR Kendall Hinton, OT Hunter Watts, G Austin Schlottmann, G Calvin Anderson, TE Austin Fort, TE Andrew Beck, DL Jonathan Harris, LB Josh Watson, CB Davante Harris, S Douglas Coleman
The Broncos have made several solid additions through trade, free agency, and the draft, but they will be a bit up and down in 2020. There is so much promise in their young players for the future, but success in 2020 rests on the shoulders of: RT Ja'Wuan James; OLB Von Miller; S Justin Simmons; OLB Bradley Chubb; WR DeaSean Hamilton; CB Isaac Yiadom. QB Jeff Driskel is the ideal backup-type: age (27); short, team-friendly contract; and, well-rounded athletic ability (pass/run/throw under pressure/starting experience). Quarterbacks Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, and Brett Rypien are the least-experienced depth chart in the league. The best duos on the depth chart: Von Miller & Bradley Chubb (OLB); Justin Simmons & Kareem Jackson (S); Melvin Gordon & Phillip Lindsay (RB); Courtland Sutton & Jerry Jeudy (WR); Jurrell Casey & Shelby Harris (DL); Dalton Risner & Graham Glasgow (OG). Elway has shrewdly built the Broncos while spending only $10.4 million of the cap on QB1, RB1 and WR1, the second-lowest mark in the league. The Broncos' top-5 offensive weapons combine for just over $15M and could stay together for the next two full seasons, perhaps longer. Analytics show us: It is usually best to pass in the NFL. When you run, run outside (most efficient). Run play results favor motion at the snap over run plays without motion. Shotgun runs go for more yards on average compared to under center runs, especially in short-yardage situations. Running the ball is, on average, better than passing within five yards of the end zone. Throwing the ball 1-9 yards beyond the first-down line is the optimal play call on many third downs. Running backs, depending on the offense, only pass block on about 1 in 6 pass attempts.
Enhanced safety measures at Mile High: 500 new hand sanitizer stations Addition of bipolar ionization in the stadium's HVAC system Installation of UV-C lights under escalators (for handrails) Transformation of all bathrooms to entirely touch less systems (toilets, sinks and paper towel dispensers).
QB Drew Lock-QB 23
QB Jeff Driskel-
RB Melvin Gordon-RB18
RB Phillip Lindsay-RB34; a matchup flex unless Gordon gets hurt.
RB Royce Freeman-RB62; needs to play to his size and not bounce everything outside.
WR Courtland Sutton-WR18 (WR1 upside)
WR Jerry Jeudy-WR43 (WR2/1 upside)
WR KJ Hamler- WR88 (Broncos #3 wide receiver)
WR DaeSean Hamilton-WR106
WR Tim Patrick-WR163
WR Tyrie Cleveland
TE Noah Fant- TE12 (top 5 upside)
TE Albert Okwuegbunam-TE53
TE Nick Vannett-RB73
PK Brandon McManus- K15
More to come next month!
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