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Denver Broncos June Scouting Report
Charles Rives
6/9/2022

HC Nathaniel Hackett and General Manager George Paton have a vision of what they want to do and how they want to do it. And the players are excited about it. Paton: "you have an offense that can score points, you get leeads and then you throw this pass rush at them...." For Hackett, the game is about the quarterback playing well, and the quarterback being affected. Offense With the Packers, Hackett threw the ball on 58% of their plays, with 21% going to RBs, 57% to WRs and 17% to tight ends. However, Hackett has shown he can change his offense to fit his personnel.

 

In Denver, the passing game will feature Russell Wilson’ arm and Denver’s receivers. Wilson is a top-five quarterback (today’s NFL), one of the biggest difference-makers, one of the best leaders and has only missed the playoffs twice in his career. In the last six seasons, Wilson has averaged 21% of his passes to his tight ends and 27% in the red zone. Green Bay/Hackett ran the second-most 12 personnel packages in the league at 29%. The running game will include a fullback to cut the defense in half and provide an extra blocker that allows angles to come back for the offensive line. Hackett’s ideal fullback is an all-around weapon (an out-of-the-backfield tight end). Hackett is going to see what TE Andrew Beck can do in that area. Denver must turn potential into production and will need production from TE Albert Okwuegbunam, and RB Melvin Gordon III. Wilson is not a quick-short pass game quarterback. He will need the run game to force teams to respect the short middle of the field and open up bigger windows to exploit down field with explosive pass plays.

 

There is no shortage of weapons with a receiving corp with size, speed, skilled route running, tight ends who are a mismatch in the passing game and RB Javonte Williams, a top young rusher in the league. However, the Broncos’ receiving corp is inexperienced compared to their AFC West rivals, so All Denver needs to do is match it’s talent to Hackett’s effective offensive scheme. Then, the pressure will be on the Denver defense to pressure the passer, get turnovers and close-out games.

 

Defense: DC Ejiro Evero is from the Fangio and Wade Phillips coaching trees and his scheme isn't too different from what the Broncos have been doing in the past. There are a lot of the same schemes with some verbiage differences. However, he has said he wants to crank up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks and pump up the turnovers -- "the ball is everything," he said. He will use defensive pressure packages to place opposing quarterbacks under greater stress. Evero has plenty of room to improve the Broncos' defense. Expect to see increased man coverage with CB Patrick Surtain matched up against LAC receiver Keenan Allen and LVA receiver Davante Adams. CB Ronald Darby will go head-to-head against the speed component of the opponents, like KC receiver Mecole Hardman. CB K’Waun Williams will match up against receivers in space and will bring physicality to prevent receivers/tight ends from making third-down conversions. Evero’s defensive tactics and assignments will evolve throughout the season. It should be noted that Evero is coming from a few systems that greatly d-emphasize the overall value of the linebacker position. If he can play a defensive back to help in the passing game that won’t completely destroy a defense in its ability to stop the run, he’s going to play the defensive back instead of a linebacker. However, if he has that rare linebacker who is solid against the run, a sideline-to-sideline athlete, and both fluid and smart enough to play in coverage, he will play that linebacker. Hackett on Chubb: "He could be another dominant guy...For him, it’s get out on the field, be available, and get after the quarterback as much as you can..."

 

Special Teams Three players from this year’s draft class who are likely to become contributors: CB Damarri Mathis, S Delarrin-Turner-yell and WR Montrell Washington. RB Mike Boone is also a strong candidate for a special teams spot. Roster The Broncos' roster will have plenty of fresh faces with a new coaching staff. Players who could find themselves on the outside looking in: Jonathan Harris, DL; Tyrie Cleveland, WR; Netane Muti, OG; Quinn Bailey, OT; Mike Purcell, DL; Malik Reed, OLB; Essang Bassey, DB; Brett Rypien, QB; Andrew Beck, FB/TE; Justin Strnad, LB; Barrington Wade, LB. These players will have their chances, but if it’s close, the new staff will go with their guy. UDFAs: Defensive Players: Christopher Allen, EDGE, Alabama received a massive bonus to come to Denver because you can never have too many pass rushers, and Allen can do that at a high level. Good chance to make 53-man roster, otherwise practice squad. Kadofi Wright, LB, Buffalo 6’3. 230, good size, playmaker at Buffalo. Outside shot to make the practice squad.; Cortez Davis, CB, Hawaii, poor RAS, a developmental nickel/practice squad. Ja’Quan McMillian, CB, East Carolina who got the second-highest guaranteed money (Allen) was one of the most productive defensive backs in college football. Good bet to make 53-man roster. Kana’i Mauga, LB, USC based on the position he plays (extremely physical and tough), has a good shot to crack the Broncos roster if he can show some things on special teams/practice squad. Offensive players: Jalen Virgil, WR/KR, Appalachian State is a dynamic return specialist.

 

Practice squad. Tyreik McAllister, RB, Charleston big-time playmaker who blows by everybody (4.39). Developmental, practice squad; Sebastian Gutierrez, OT, Minot State 9.83 RAS tools to develop. Work cut out to make the practice squad.; Michael Niese, OL, Temple 9.21 RAS RT/inside. Practice squad.; Rodney Williams, TE, UT-Martin 8.87 RAS. Practice squad.; Dylan Parham TE North Carolina State. Developed blocker. Practice squad. Brandon Johnson WR Central Florida. Red zone threat. Practice squad. Kaden Davis WR North Missouri State dangerous return man, special teams/practice squad. Minicamp tryout: QB Eric Barriere (Eastern Washington) athletic, quick release, and good tough throwing downfield. Transactions Re-Signed TE Eric Saubert. Signed rookie OL Luke Wattenberg. Signed rookie S Delarrin Turner-Yell. Signed rookie OLB Nik Bonitto. Signed rookie DL Matt Henningsen. Signed rookie CB Faion Hicks. Signed rookie TE Greg Dulcich. Signed rookie WR Montrell Washington. Waived OT Drew Himmelman, G Zack Johnson, TE Shaun Beyer, and OLB Andre Mintze. Waived CB Cortez Davis. Resigned G Zack Johnson. Injuries DL Matt Henningsen Suffers 'Mild Calf Strain'. LB Jonathon Cooper out until training camp with finger surgery. Broncos 2022 schedule The Broncos are projected to travel 27,398 miles and 32 time zones in their 17 regular-season games (only the Seahawks will travel more).

 

Week

Date

Opponent

1

Sept. 12

@ Seahawks

2

Sept. 18

vs. Texans

3

Sept. 25

vs. 49ers

4

Oct. 2

@ Raiders

5

Oct. 6

vs. Colts

6

Oct. 17

@ Chargers

7

Oct. 23

vs. Jets

8

Oct. 30

@ Jaguars

9

Nov. 6

BYE

10

Nov. 13

@ Titans

11

Nov. 20

vs. Raiders

12

Nov. 27

@ Panthers

13

Dec. 4

@ Ravens

14

Dec. 11

vs. Chiefs

15

Dec. 18

vs. Cardinals

16

Dec. 25

@ Rams

17

Jan. 1

@ Chiefs

18

Jan. 8

vs. Chargers

 

Hackett wants to go against the best teams in the NFL to be battle-tested, know where they are, what they need to do, how to improve. Because in the end, it's how they play December football. It’s about being ready for December football. You've got to be peaking at that right time. Everybody wants to start fast, but it's about how you finish. That's the challenge for the players, because it's about playoffs, it's about how you enter there, how you feel there and how you keep rolling. The Broncos don’t have an easy schedule, but it is manageable and arguably the easiest in the AFC West. The Broncos need to take care of teams they're favored against. Weeks 10 and 13-18 will show what the Broncos are made of.

 

Orangeman’s Take

 

There are questions about the Broncos draft class, but now it is about what they do from here on out. The simple fact is that there are so many variables you can't predict success precisely. Upgrading right tackle, possibly moving Graham Glasgow to center, and bringing in Quinn ‘The Belly’ Meinerz at right guard will provide better protection for Russell Wilson and will increase yardage for Williams and Gordon. So may a fullback, depending on his usage. The Broncos have a solid team overall, but there are spots, like cornerback, defensive line and wide receiver, which could use more depth. The Broncos have the makings of a good team who could get hot at the right time. When training camp gets here we'll be able to tell if these rookies can play at a high level. For now, Nathaniel Hackett sees learning as the biggest thing needed from this rookie class during the OTAs: learning the system, learning the building, learning their teammates, learning their coaches. Then just learning how to be a pro and how to get out and practice every day. Observers say they can feel the new energy with this team every time they see them on the field. Russell Wilson is in Denver to win Super Bowls, and his addition feels like when the team signed Peyton Manning. One side of the ball will not be stronger than the other with the Broncos this season. QB Russell Wilson is doing film study with Peyton and Manning. They are two peas in a pod. Fantasy Outlook QB Russell Wilson is a top ten quarterback with top 5 upside. RB Javonte Williams is a top 15 running back with risk in a committee backfield. RB Melvin Gordon II is a RB2. WR Jerry Jeudy, is a superb route runner and effective deep threat. He is a borderline top-20 fantasy wide receiver, with upside. WR Courtland Sutton has similar upside as a field stretcher (less volume/similar production). He’s a WR2, with more because of Wilson. Both are fantasy WR2s, with both being top-15 wide receivers possibilities. If anything happens to Jeudy or Sutton, WRs KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick would become more appealing. They are late-round picks or become big waiver wire targets in season. Albert O is a high-end TE2 with upside. TE Greg Dulcich is a better receiver and could cut into O’s upside. Dulcich has upside to be a TE2 as a rookie. K Brandon McManus will benefit from more PATs, but Hackett likes to "go for it" on fourth down which could limit long field goal attempts. The defense will be a work in progress all season, but a top 10 finish is likely with a top 5 finish possible.

 

End.

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