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Denver Broncos June Scouting Report
Charles Rives
6/5/2017

Let's take a look at how the Denver Broncos look in early June...

 

Offense

According to HC Vance Joseph, the Broncos offensive structure is Mike McCoy's basic offense, basic route tree, and basic run game . McCoy runs a hybrid offense, featuring a power running game (Power & Counter), a mix of play action passes and an intermediate to short passing game that takes it's fair share of shots down the field. McCoy's offense is his version of the Erhardt-Perkins* which organizes and gets things together to help players be successful. It’s highly versatile and can cover the entire field. The degree of emphasis on the power running game varies and it can also be used in emphasizing the pass because it is a fairly balanced system. Erhardt-Perkins is not a stagnant system- it is dynamic and constantly changing. The early EP running attack used very few RB receptions, but that will change a great deal under McCoy (screens, dump offs,wheel routes). McCoy will also employ play-action and the tight end (or two). The EP is particularly known for using a lot of trapping and pulling by the offensive line. Denver's line will have to make the transition from a zone blocking scheme to a gap-based scheme which requires mastering a new mental attitude, new footwork, and new calls. McCoy values innovation around a traditional drop back quarterback (a terrific passer, sees the field and makes good decisions, throws the ball straight and doesn't hold onto the ball when he should let it fly). McCoy's offense requires the quarterback to read almost every thing in the passing game from low to high (dink and dunk). QB Trevor Siemian (or any quarterback) will be a better quarterback in this sort of system. It is real low risk, doesn’t ask Siemian to hold the ball long or throw it down the field. Defense is about playing rules. If you understand the defense's rules, you can put them in bad positions and anytime you can get a defense just a half a step off, you’ve got a leg up on them. The pre-snap alignment will give Siemian a glimpse of the defense’s scheme, requiring him to be prepared with a very specific understanding of how the defense will react to his sets. Siemian will have to know the man coverage beater on every play. The first thing he must look at is the linebackers. If they’re out of position, he won't even look down field, he’ll check down (that’s easy). He will have to look at a lot of tape and really understand the defense to know that will happen. McCoy will have to have an answer for the quarterback so he knows where he’s supposed to go with the ball against every coverage and put his guys in position to have success. McCoy's pass happy offense emphasizes 1 (wide receiver screens, end zone fades, extremely quick throws), 3 (slant, drag, stick), and 5 ( smash, flat 7, 4 verticals, numbers, out-post) step drops. The NFL's top quarterbacks take few deep drops (7 step out and up, post-corner (post).

Roster projections (lean toward youth over veterans with $0 dead money + cap savings)

Quarterbacks

Starter: Trevor Siemian
Backup(S): Paxton Lynch Practice Squad: Chad Kelly Siemian is an efficient starter, but injuries could hold him back. It's all about 2018 for Kelly

Running Backs

Starter: C. J. Anderson
Backup(S): Jamaal Charles, Devontae Booker, De'Angelo Henderson (R)
Fullback(S): Andy Janovich The potential for Anderson to be a 1,000-yard rusher is there, and that's RB2 potential. Booker could step into a large role (Anderson injury). Charles is fantastic in the screen game. Henderson is an exciting rookie runner. Janovich is a talented short-yardage runner/effective receiver.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders
Backups: Carlos Henderson (R) Isaiah McKenzie (R) Jordan Taylor, Cody Latimer The early word out of Denver is that the Broncos are going to implement a pass-happy system that should be great news for Sanders (close to top-15 fantasy) and/or Thomas (near the top 10 in fantasy). Henderson could thrive as the slot receiver. McKenzie will be used mostly as a return man, but could get a package of plays on offense. Jordan Taylor has the size/speed combination for a great down field target. Latimer's last stand.

Tight Ends

Starters: Virgil Green
Backups: Jeff Heuerman, A. J. Derby, Jake Butt (R) Green is a blocker. A. J. Derby is the primary receiving tight end and mismatch over the middle. Butt has upside in dynasty leagues, but may not play much in 2017. McCoy likes two tight ends who can block and receive.

Offensive Line

Starters: LT Garett Bolles, LG Ronald Leary, C Matt Paradis, RG Max Garcia, RT Menelik Watson
Backups: Ty Sambrailo (G/T), Michael Schofield (G/T), Connor McGovern (C/G/T) Ty Sambrailo and Michael Schofield provide decent depth. A mid tier line until they find cohesion. T Donald Stephenson carries too much dead money and too little cap savings to be cut. Some in the Bronco organization believe he will be better in Jeff Davidson's blocking scheme than he was for Kubiak.

Defense

HC Vance Joseph doesn't want a defense that’s reacting to the offense. He wants to play on the defense's terms-.physical and disciplined. Joseph prefers an attack-style defense from every position-D-line, corners, safeties, and linebackers-because you play faster and you dictate how the game goes. Bottom line, he wants a defense that causes havoc and turns the ball over. Joseph's definition of a good defense requires solid defensive lineman and lengthy, physical, corners. And he believes games are won by the secondary. Hence, he has a secondary coach, Joe Woods, as his defensive coordinator. The Broncos defense will be about player on player, and who is prepared to play the game that day. The catch word, "Do Your Job," means alignment, assignment, technique, tackling, and red-zone defense. Joseph grew up with Wade Phillips who is aggressive all of the time. But for Joseph, every game is different. He can be conservative, or he can be aggressive, but it’s all about how the team can win on game day. Two areas the Broncos need to improve in are the run deense and first quarter points allowed. The two areas are connected and both are being addressed. The defensive line has been upgraded and the defense will show different looks early in the game rather than staying in their main packages like they did in 2016. DC Joe Woods will tweak the defensive concepts that worked with something that will provide a little changeup and make offenses work at the line of scrimmage. Rookie DE DeMarcus Walker is quick, fast, and can move inside in a 4-man line. Denver had 43 sacks and 102 hurries in 2016. (Miller 14; Ray 8; Wolfe 6; Ware 4).

Defensive Line

Starters: LE Derek Wolfe, NT Domata Peko, RE Jared Crick
Backups: DE Adam Gotsis, NT Zach Kerr, NT Kyle Peko, DE DeMarcus Walker (R), DE Billy Winn There are no real statistical DL contributors for fantasy.

Linebackers

Starters: SLB Von Miller, ILB Brandon Marshal, ILB Todd Davis, WLB Shane Ray
Backups: ILB Corey Nelson, OLB Kasim Edebali, OLB Saquil Barrett Miller finished 2016 as the standard-league LB12, which is near his ceiling. Ray may already be near his ceiling for snaps. Marshall offers strong value as a bounce-back flier (LB4 area). Davis LB3/4. Nelson would move in seamlessly if Marshall goes down. Barrett will miss "the next few months with a hip injury.

Defensive Backs

Starters: LCB Aqib Talib, SS T Ward, FS Darian Stewart, RCB Chris Harris
Backups: CB Bradley Roby, FS Justin Simmons, SS Will Parks, CB Lorenzo Doss Harris and Talib are not tested enough to rack up big fantasy numbers. Ward is an upper-tier safety (DB2). Roby gets to the ball plenty and would erupt with a corner back injury. Simmons is a sneaky play maker to monitor in free agency. Doss has a shot at being the fourth cornerback.

Team Defense

The Broncos DST finished in the top five no matter the scoring format in 2016. There is a little concern this year, but new coordinator Joe Woods should maintain the ball hawking pressure defense that drives the team. For the most part, the defense has continuity at all three levels and should maintain their status as a premium fantasy DST and match up to avoid for opposing quarterbacks.

Special Teams

The Broncos draft picks have given Brock Olivio more talent to make his special teams group more explosive. Brandon McManus: McManus is a number 7-10 range place kicker. LS: Casey Kreiter Holder: Trevor Siemian Kick Returner: Carlos Henderson (R) Playing at altitude and with one of the top defenses in the league will leave McKenzie short on opportunities. Punt Returner: Isaiah McKenzie (R) Brandon Langley (R) LS: Casey Kreiter Punter: Riley Dixon

OTAs

The day-to-day results are less important than the overall process of learning. Make them learn it in the spring so when you add different concepts, it isn't their first time hearing it, Everything they do now on offense will be repeated during training camp. Siemian and Lynch will alternate first-team days and Joseph wants to see the quarterbacks try to fit the football into some narrow windows and make game-like decisions. Each quarterback will get five days during the 10 days of OTAs to run the No. 1 offense in team periods. Three guys are working at left tackle-Stephenson, Bolles and Sambrailo. Butt is taking mental repetitions and standing in the huddle- with the first-, second- and third-team offenses-to hear the calls because knowing what to do is half the battle for a rookie. The Broncos want to see whether the versatile second-year veteran, Connor McGovern, can handle the workload in the middle. Charles, Paradis, Butt and Kelly are all expected to be full participates during training camp.

FANTASY OUTLOOK

McCoy likes 2 Tight Ends, who can both block and receive; the slot receiver is very valuable; the Fullback is expendable; will look to use Jamaal Charles as a complement to C. J. Anderson; WR Carlos Henderson landed in a perfect scenario to earn snaps right away in the slot; lack quality depth at wide out; Heuerman & Butt are the future at tight end;

QB Trevor Siemian low end QB2

RB C. J. Anderson RB2

RB Jamaal Charles RB2/flex depending on use

WR Demaryius Thomas WR1

WR Emmanuel Sanders WR2

WR Carlos Henderson WR3 depending on his role in the offense

TE's waiver wire until they shake out

K Brandon McManus #1 kicker

DST #1 DST

*The backbone of the Erhardt-Perkins system is that plays — pass plays in particular — are organized by "concepts." Each play has a name and that name conjures up an image for the players on offense. The "concept" can be called from almost any formation or set. Who does what changes, but the theory and tactics driving the play do not. In essence, you’re running the same play, but you’re just giving them some window-dressing to make it look different. The biggest advantage of the concept-based system is that it operates from the perspective of the most critical player on offense: the quarterback. An Erhardt-Perkins quarterback only has to read a given arrangement of receivers, cutting down on the plays and getting different looks from your formations and who’s in them. It’s easier for the players to learn. It’s easier for the quarterback to learn- you get different looks without changing his reads. Concepts benefit the offense because you can plug different guys into different formations, into different personnel groups, and if the personnel understand the concept, it gives the offense more flexibility. New England HC Bill Belichick’s primary innovation was to go from an Erhardt-Perkins offense to an Erhardt-Perkins system, built on its method of organizing and naming plays. The offense itself is philosophically neutral: from conservative to spread to no-huddle-the tactics and players-have changed while the underlying approach has not. This conceptual approach is how the Patriots are able to run the same basic plays, whether spreading the field with four or five receivers or using multiple tight ends and running backs. The Patriots are built to communicate in one-or two-word designations, and thus, with judicious use of code words, they simply translate what they already do into a no-huddle pace.

End.

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