Denver Broncos Late August Scouting Report
The Denver Broncos will be looking to players who enter their third NFL season to step up and fill important roles. With fewer opportunities to get younger players into live-game situations,players that have seen some game action are going to be called upon to step forward: 1. Isaac Yiadom | CB- a depth player, 2. Royce Freeman | RB- needs to step up his efforts 3. DaeSean Hamilton | WR- needs to make the most of his snaps as a depth wide receiver 4. Josey Jewell | LB- rotational role and special teams. 5. Duke Dawson Jr. | DB-safety who can step up when needed and play on special teams
Over the last three years Denver has created depth and balance across their roster. They revamped their scouting process, prioritizing prospects whose intangible traits — like football IQ, work ethic, leadership, passion, and maturity — were on the same level as their tangible gifts.
The Broncos will rely on their veteran defense as the young offense matures. If Lock grows; if the Fangio defense improves in year two; and, lf the offensive line improves, Denver will contend for a postseason spot.
Roster locks: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam. Viable backups: DaeSean Hamilton: Tim Patrick, Diontae Spencer, Fred Brown, Tyrie Cleveland, and Juwann Winfree.
Bubble Players: Juwann Winfree, WR; Jake Butt, TE; Tyrie Cleveland, WR; DeMarcus Walker, DL; Justin Hollins, OLB; Josey Jewell; Davontae Harris, CB.
Question: Will Lock’s pocket presence and "easy misses" outweigh the benefits of his arm talent? He can improve his recognition of, 'Okay, this is what I saw…this is what I thought I saw…this is what it was.' through film study with Shurmer and Shula. CB Bryce Callahan playing corner and inside at nickel.
Transactions: Released TE Jeff Heuerman and saved nearly $4 million in cap space. ROT Ja'Wuan James opted out of the 2020 season. The Broncos save some cash this year and will save a little next year and could see 2021 as his last chance to prove himself. Activated OT Elijah Wilkinson and G Netane Muti. Signed ROT Demar Dotson, 35, to one year deal. Waived/non-football illness DL Jonathan Harris. Signed DL DeShawn Williams. Signed rookie wideout Cody White
Positions to watch: 1. Right tackle 2. Third cornerback 3. Third wide receiver 4. Backup tight ends 5. Backup edge 6. Long snapper
Offense: Mike Munchak is a great offensive line coach and he's got his work cut out for him again. Elijah Wilkinson has not had a ton of success as a pass protector (heavy feet), and is coming into camp recovering from foot surgery. With RT Ja’Wuan opting out, right tackle is Wilkinson’s job to lose. The depth at tackle remains a weakness for Denver.
Other Internal Options: RT Jake Rodgers, who struggled badly in the 2019 preseason before making the final roster. Calvin Anderson, an undrafted free agent in 2019, didn’t play last season, but has the athleticism/physical upside to be a starting-caliber player (left/right side). Quinn Bailey (UDFA), spent the majority of the 2019 season on the practice squad, and has a positive future outlook. Newly signed Demar Dotson is a veteran body and Wilkinson's backup. OG Dalton Risner played most of his career at Kansas State at right tackle. If he moved to right tackle, it would allow Wilkinson to move to guard where he performs better. Playing both Risner and Wilkinson at their more natural positions could prove to be the best option. Beyond the top three wide receivers, all 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. DaeSean Hamilton and Juwaan Winfree have the highest upside as inside-outside threats. Wide receiver "special teams 'specialists': Diontae Spencer is a returner and Tyrie Cleveland is a gunner/returner. The depth at wide receiver could force the Broncos to keep seven receivers on the initial active roster.
Andrew Beck's versatility as a fullback/H-back/tight end/special teams player gives him a good shot to make the final roster. However, the best fit for the Pat Shurmur offense could potentially be last year's UDFA star Austin Fort while TE Jake Butt has practice squad eligibility. G/C Austin Schlottmann will compete for the starting center position with Lloyd Cushenberry and Patrick Morris. T Calvin Anderson is a player the team likes for his developmental potential, and the same is true for GNetane Muti, a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. .
Defense: The Broncos have the talent to record more turnovers and be one of the league's top defenses. But they could have some tough decisions to make in the defensive backfield with their young, inconsistent cornerbacks, but they really like their top backup safety Trey Marshall. The Defensive Line has a good combination of youth and veteran experience. Newly signed lineman Christian Covington could win a roster spot. ILB Alexander Johnson needs to master the mental part of the game. ILBs Josh Watson and Josey Jewell could be the new special teams captains. ILB Justin Strnad should be considered a lock to make the team, however, the reserves aside from him are a bit up in the air. ILB Todd Davis will need to do more in coverage this year. Running in a straight line downhill, he's great, but he needs to improve in moving laterally, backpedaling, and running with a tight end. Denver was impressed with what OLB Malik Reed did last season and Justin Hollins has inside-outside versatility with pass rushing ability. ILB Alexander Johnson needs to master the mental part of the game.
Special Teams: Wes Farnsworth’s (LS) athleticism could give him the advantage over local UNC product Jacob Bobenmoyer.
Training camp questions:1. Will the Offense Have Time to Gel? 2. Can Shurmur, Shula Hit it Off with Lock? 3. How Does the CB Pecking Order Take Shape?4. Who Emerges as the Third WR? 5. Who Takes Control of Center Position? 6. How do the New Vet Faces Fit in on Defense? 7. How Will the Team Divvy Out RB Reps? 8. Who Emerges as Punt/Kick Returner? 9. How Will TE Logjam Resolve? 10. Can Players Maintain Social Responsibility of Safety Prioritization?
Day One Standouts: 1. Jerry Jeudy, WR 2. Bryce Callahan, CB 3. Jake Butt, TE 4/5. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay.
DAY TWO: 1. Jerry Jeudy got first-team reps with Drew Lock. 2. K.J. Hamler was "fine" after leaving practice a few minutes early. 3. Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick outside with Jeudy in the slot was the most common wide receiver group.
Day Three: 1. Lock looked in control of the team's offense completing passes against the second-team defense. When he faced the first-team defense, he still managed to connect with Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. 2. Jake Butt caught passes in a variety of routes showing his athleticism. 3. De'Vante Bausby Isaac Yiadom and Davontae Harris continued to rotate at the third cornerback position, but It's too early to see any separation. 4. Fangio continued the rotation at center (Schlottmann, Morris and Cushenberry) and all remain in the mix. The practice wasn't up to the level that Vic Fangio expected. "It was just OK," Fangio said. "It wasn't as crisp as I thought it would be. It was just OK." Elijah Wilkinson has had an up and down first week of camp.
First week of camp: We don’t know what the coaches are seeing on tape, but Justin Hollins is at best third in line as a backup outside linebacker; We aren’t hearing that return specialist, Diontae Spencer, is valuable enough on offense to earn a roster spot; Duke Dawson hasn’t made a splash in camp limiting his shot at a roster spot; the Broncos are considering a "quarantine" quarterback who would train away from Dove Valley and be available at a drop of a hat (Blake Bortles, Josh McCown, Drew Station, Kyle Shumer-OC’s son, Kyle Sloter, Vernon Adams-CFL, Colin Kaepernick, Cole McDonald-7th round draft pick); Every day Jurrell Casey blowing up plays, getting a good rush, and bats down passes at the line; AJ Bouye looks fully healthy and ready for CB1 duty; Melvin Gordon clearly fits Shurmer’s offense; Jerry Juedy is making a significant early impact; The veteran defense is ahead of the young offense; Royce Freeman has run hard, shown an enhanced burst of speed, has been in the passing game a fair amount;
Injuries: Nick Vannett is in the concussion protocol; Davontae Harris has a knee contusion; Noah Fant is sick (not COVID); Von Miller tweaked his elbow; Melvin Gordon tweaked his ribs; KJ’s-hamstring/could be out a month (missing a significant amount of time in the regular season; Todd Davis (calf) out 2-to-3 weeks; Elijah Wilkinson (ankle); Michael Ojemudia has a quad injury out at least a week; ILB Justin Strnad suffered a wrist injury and is likely done for the year;
Orangeman’s Take Most of the Broncos’ starting lineup is known but not ‘solidified’. The question is how quickly the newcomers and young guy’s roles are determined. Everythings can change before opening against Tennessee. WR Tim Patrick opens as the number two wide receiver with Jerry Jeudy in the slot. Both DaeSean Hamilton and KJ Hamler will see time in the slot. Jeudy and KJ Hamler will have to earn their snaps over Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton.This makes it look like the Broncos will emphasize the running game early in the season. TE Jake Butt is looking good and if he can stay healthy, he will be Noah Fant’s backup. Vannett is the blocking tight end and "Albert O" is the learning/situational tight end. Austin Schlottmann and Patrick Morris are ahead of C Lloyd Cushenberry,who is likely to open the season as the starter. Demar Dotson will win the right tackle battle with Elijah Wilkinson soon and CB De’Vante Bausby will push 3rd year CB Isaac Yiadom for number three cornerback. It's a fun time in Bronco Country, but the Broncos must select a center and a number three cornerback soon with the Tennessee opener three weeks away.
FANTASY OUTLOOK (byADP/PPR)
Breakout fantasy quarterback; The long ball is back in Denver QB Drew Lock-QB 25
There may not be a clear starter early as the back’s use may be based on the opponent and personnel group.
RB Melvin Gordon-RB20
RB Phillip Lindsay-RB34
RB Royce Freeman-RB72
WR Courtland Sutton-WR23 (WR1 upside)
WR Jerry Jeudy-WR51 (WR2+ upside)
WR KJ Hamler- WR92 (out injured)
WR DaeSean Hamilton-WR105
WR Tim Patrick-WR141
TE Noah Fant- TE15 (top 5 upside)
TE Albert Okwuegbunam-TE56 (situational player)
TE Nick Vannet-TE 74
PK Brandon McManus- K17 (upside)
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