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Denver Broncos Early August Scouting Report
Charles Rives
8/6/2020

Peyton Manning's key messages for the rookies are relevant for the veterans as well: treat practice like a game and attack the preparation process. The offense finished in the bottom-5 in most key categories in 2019. The Broncos scored 17.6 points per game (28th) and had 298.6 total yards per game (28th). They rushed for 103.9 yards per game (20th), and passed for 194.7 yards per game (28th). Their 57.8% pass to 42.4% run ratio didn't really show up in their passing volume.

 

Quarterbacks historically make a big jump in their 2nd year. Shurmer: "you only learn as a quarterback, in my opinion, by playinng in live game settings. He (Lock) learned a great deal." Lock displays that care-free, utter joy of playing the game of football when he's on the

field. Gordon's not extremely efficient but usually produces with volume and opportunities in both rushing and passing. Lindsey's 104 ADP makes him a good value even with Gordon's presence. Sutton accounted for 35.1% of the team's total yards and touchdowns even with

poor efficiency. Jerry Jeudy (the 15th overall pick) plays one of the hardest positions to transition to in the NFL. The wide receivers need time to grow with their young quarterback. Fant's lack of volume is a concern for his expectations for big time growth. The Broncos did nothing to bolster the offensive tackle position and A.J. Bouye is the only "proven cornerback."

 

Unless players are essentially in a bubble —insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day —it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," (Dr. Anthony ) Fauci said. Whatever adjustments happen for the 2020 season, the NFL and NFLPA will find a way to work through any revenue reductions. The Broncos shouldn't have to make too many adjustments to their salary cap approach or team spending (if they do). Broncos 2020 The Broncos training camp has a lot of promise with a young quarterback with big upside, revamped offensive unit, a solid new offensive coaching staff and the defense poised to take the next step in under Vic Fangio. But promise isn't enough. The Broncos have to produce on the field. For that to happen: 1) QB Drew Lock MUST take the next step; 2) ROT Ja'Wuan James MUST stay healthy; 3) WR Jerry Jeudy MUST be the real deal; 4) NT Mike Purcell MUST duplicate the best season of his career; and, 5) a CB2 MUST emerge. If they take care of the 'musts', they can secure a playoff spot. Making the roster in 2020 is going to be hard, but five UDFAs have a chance: 1. Essang Bassey, CB, Wake Forest-plus athleticism below-average size ideal skill set for nickel cornerback. 2. LeVante Bellamy, RB, Western Michigan-below average size, above-average speed, well-above-average explosive traits, experience as a kickoff returner, $25,000 signing bonus, guaranteed $35,000 of his salary. 3. Douglas Coleman, S, Texas Tech-Holder VS Coleman, make plays on the ball deep downfield 4. Kendall Hinton, WR Wake Forest-versatile offensive weapon, quarterback in emergency 5. Zimari Manning, WR. Tarleton State-outside routes (6'1, 200), play speed, $12,500 signing bonus (3rd highest) QB Brett Rypien looked like a camp arm last year, but will make the practice squad option, while TE Jeff Heuerman was released, and the team saved $3.8 million. WRs Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy will be every down players along with TE Noah Fant. RBs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will battle for snaps and fuel the rushing game. Rookies to watch: Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest; Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri; Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa. Players to watch: KJ Hamler - Slot receiver/return specialist; Tyrie Cleveland - WR5/Special Teams ace; Juwann Winfree - WR4 or WR5; Elijah Wilkinson - Left tackle; Josh Watson ­ Linebacker; DeMarcus Walker - Defensive Line.

 

Broncos who must stay healthy: QB Drew Lock; OLB Von Miller; OLB Bradley Chubb; CB Bryce Callahan.

Roster Needs 2021: Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, Edge Rusher, Off-Ball Linebacker, Interior Defensive Line, Safety. Draft Prospects: Offensive tackles: Penei Sewell, Oregon; Alex Leatherwood, Alabama; Walker Little, Stanford; Samuel Cosmi, Texas; Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame. Cornerbacks: Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech; Shaun Wade, Ohio State; Patrick Surtain, Alabama; Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State; T.J. Carter, Memphis. Edge: Gregory Rousseau, Miami (FL); Carlos Basham, Wake Forest; Chris Rumph, Duke; Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan; Xavier Thomas, Clemson. Safety: Ar’Darius Washington, TCU; Jevon Holland, Oregon; Andre Cisco, Syracuse; Hamsah Nasirildeen, FSU; Trevon Moehrig, TCU.

The NFL will have no preseason games in 2020. This preseason change for the Broncos means

that: veterans on the bubble are under more pressure; rookies will take longer to acclimate to the NFL; there's a reduced chance of training camp surprises; veterans guaranteed starting jobs will play few, or no snaps; other veterans won't play if the Broncos are content with them in their roles. If there's no preseason some veterans on the bubble are gone and it will be harder for undrafted rookies/former practice squad players to make the team. The Broncos may not be at their best to start the season as they enter camp with a roster of 80.

 

Free Agents: With all the changes still possible for the season, the Broncos may need to consider the free agents still on the open market sooner rather than later. They need to figure out Justin Simmons' contract before making any moves in the secondary, but Eric Reid, S (proven depth), and Tedric Thompson, S (developmental player) could be of interest. Kelvin Beachum, OT could compete to start at left tackle but could also be valuable tackle depth. Marcell Dareus, DL could be a pass rusher and a playmaker if/when healthy.

 

Special Teams: The Broncos emphasized upgrading the punting game this offseason, bringing in P Sam Martin to kick the ball, Florida's special team ace, WR Tyrie Cleveland and a couple of athletic long snappers. The punting game is critical for Drew Lock by flipping field position. It's all about consistency in kicking to your coverage and setting up the coverage unit for success. Cap Dead Money: $15,985,984 (10th); Quarterback: $4,631,034 (29th); Running Back: $10,676,255 (12th); Wide Receiver: $8,051,949 (31st); Tight End: $12,368,380 (12th); Offensive Line: $32,651,563 (24th); Defensive Line: $24,612,910 (27th); Linebackers: $46,420,039 (3rd); Cornerbacks: $24,882,980 (9th); Safeties: $28,022,666 (1st); Specialists: $7,003,333 (8th)

Orangeman's Take: Denver has so many new moving parts on offense after a nonexistent offseason and a far too conservative 2019. Fangio wasn't aggressive enough on fourth downs, shots downfield, and early down passing. The Broncos also played at a slow pace and didn't use play action enough. However, the cumulative impact of Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler and Fant is intriguing in OC Pat Shurmur's spread scheme that prioritizes the vertical passing game. Their deep speed, size, route-running talent, and YAC will make matchups extremely difficult for opponents. Shurmur's offense will feature plenty of three-wide receiver sets, a commitment to the run, deep passes off play-action, and utilization of the screen game to be explosive. Beyond the top three wide receivers, the receivers will have to prove their worth on special teams. Equally important, WR 4 and WR 5 will have to prove they can play on offense. Although Lock doesn't seem far enough along in his development, at Missouri, he thrived on deep balls while being inconsistent on shorter passes.

Fantasy Outlook

QB Drew Lock will have 200 rushing yards (1TD) to go with his 3800 passing yards and 23 TDs and 11 interceptions.

RBs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will combine for 1475 rushing yards and 11 TDs. They

will add 554 yards and 3 TDs through the air.

The "big four" receivers will combine for 2870 receiving yards and 19 TDs.

Gordon and Sutton are top 60 players.

Jeudy and Lindsay are top 100-150 players.

Lock QB2/streaming status.

Courtland Sutton can produce solid fantasy WR numbers in 2020.

Jeudy is capable of playing both inside and out, but needs to get stronger.

Hamler will not have consistent fantasy value in redraft leagues.

Fant will have big weeks, but may not be consistent enough to be a weekly fantasy starter.

Okwuegbunam is a physical marvel worth taking a chance on in dynasty leagues.

Lindsay's work figures to primarily come on early downs, a death knell for his fantasy value since it will be sporadic and unlikely to come near the goal line.
Gordon assuming 1A status and likely handling 60-70 percent of the team's snaps. Were Gordon to go down, Lindsay would be a low-end, plug-and-play RB2/FLEX.

Freeman's Dynasty league moment has come and gone. If he is the number 3 back, he would be an uninspiring RB4 in the event of a Gordon or Lindsay injury.

More to come later in the month...

End.

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