The Broncos Roster As It Currently Stands

Hello, Broncos fans! It’ll be quiet for a few days until the players report for their offseason workouts, but I figure it’s a good time to examine what the Broncos roster looks like at the moment and what to expect.

One thing to keep in mind as I go over the roster: This is where the Broncos fit for the time being, but that doesn’t mean that’s how the starting lineups will look for the first preseason game or how the final 53-man roster will take shape. We have seen many times before that a player who was on the roster bubble emerges and becomes a player who demands a roster spot. We have also seen projected starters wind up being cut when the roster is trimmed to 53.

I did include a few notes regarding each position and certain players. These are things to keep in mind as to what it will take for certain players to make the final roster, particularly how they will fit into the Broncos’ schemes.

(Note: I have included all the undrafted rookies I know about, but feel free to point out any of them I may have missed.)

Starter: Mark Sanchez
Primary backup: Paxton Lynch
No. 3 guy: Trevor Siemian
Notes: For Paxton Lynch to claim the starting job, he’ll need to wow the coaches to the point that they have to start him. Even so, early indications are that Sanchez is quickly learning the playbook and is out to earn the starting job. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sanchez does well in training camp and the preseason. As for Siemian, he has a shot to make the roster as the third QB. Ideally, the path would be set toward Lynch eventually starting in 2017 with Siemian as his backup.

Running back
Starter: CJ Anderson
Primary backups: Devontae Booker, Ronnie Hillman
Fighting for roster spots: Kapri Bibbs, Cyrus Gray
Notes: Hillman has the edge right now over Bibbs and Gray given his experience in Gary Kubiak’s offense. Bibbs will need to impress in the preseason, given that he is no longer eligible for the practice squad.

Fighting for the spot: Andy Janovich, Richard Gordon, Juwan Thompson
Notes: It would surprise me if Janovich doesn’t make the roster, given that the Broncos spent a late-round pick on him and he appears to be a good fit for the offense. Gordon can play tight end, which might give him an edge over Thompson. But if Thompson can impress in training camp, he could change that.

Wide receiver
Starters: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders
Primary backups: Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Norwood
Fighting for roster spots: DeVier Posey, Jordan Taylor, Mose Frasier, Durron Neal, Bralon Addison, Kalif Raymond
Notes: All eyes will be on Latimer, who has come along slowly but did some good things on special teams toward the end of last season. He, Norwood and Posey all have experience with kick and/or punt returns, which will help their causes (although Latimer and Norwood have a leg up over Posey). Taylor may be a favorite among some of you but he needs to have a preseason similar to what Fowler had last year. The undrafted rookies will likely need to show they can handle return duties to make the final roster.

Tight end
Starter: Jeff Heuerman
Primary backups: Virgil Green, Garrett Graham
Fighting for roster spots: Henry Krieger Coble, Manasseh Garner, Anthony Norris
Notes: The Broncos really like Heuerman and it wouldn’t surprise me if he wins the starting job. Graham may have the best shot of making the roster as the third “pure” tight end, but Coble or Norris could change that with an impressive training camp and preseason.

Offensive tackle
Starters: Russell Okung, Donald Stephenson
Primary backup: Michael Schofield
Fighting for roster spots: Cameron Jefferson, Kyle Roberts, Darrion Weems, Lars Hanson
Notes: One of the keys to making the final roster for any offensive lineman could be the ability to play multiple positions. Stephenson, for example, can play guard or tackle. That could spell trouble for Schofield, who didn’t stand out last season and hasn’t demonstrated yet that he can move inside. It could open the door for one of the four players in the last group.

Offensive guard
Starters: Ty Sambrailo, Max Garcia
Primary backups: Sam Brenner, Connor McGovern
Fighting for roster spots: Robert Myers Jr., Aaron Neary
Notes: The top four guards all share a similar trait: They can play at positions other than guard (Sambrailo and McGovern can play tackle, Garcia and Brenner can play center). It’s possible Sambrailo could be the swing tackle instead if McGovern shows in the preseason that he could start as a rookie.

Starter: Matt Paradis
Backup: James Ferentz
Fighting for roster spots: Dillon Day
Notes: Ferentz was utilized as an extra lineman in short yardage situations last season, so he has the edge over Day. But Day can play guard, so don’t count him out just yet.

Defensive end
Starters: Derek Wolfe, Vance Walker
Primary backups: Jared Crick, Adam Gotsis, Kenny Anunike
Fighting for roster spots: Shaneil Jenkins, Eddie Yarbrough
Notes: Yarbrough looks like he could be a hidden gem. The competition between him and Anunike to be that extra defensive lineman should be interesting.

Defensive tackle
Starter: Sylvester Williams
Primary backups: Darius Kilgo, Phil Taylor
Fighting for roster spots: David Moala, Calvin Heurtelou, Kyle Peko
Notes: If Taylor shows he can play defensive end as well as tackle, that would help his chances of making the final roster.

Inside linebacker
Starters: Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis
Primary backups: Corey Nelson. Zaire Anderson
Fighting for roster spots: Frank Shannon
Notes: Shannon bears watching. He could be a good bet to make the final roster with an impressive preseason.

Outside linebacker
Starters: DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller
Primary backups: Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett
Fighting for roster spots: Dwayne Norman
Notes: Last year, the Broncos kept five OLBs on the active roster. That doesn’t mean it’s a given that Norman makes the final roster, but a good showing in the preseason would help his chances.

Starters: Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Bradley Roby
Primary backups: Kayvon Webster, Lorenzo Doss
Fighting for roster spots: Taurean Nixon, John Tidwell
Notes: Nixon was promoted to the active squad before Super Bowl 50. Making the final roster could be tough, given how much the Broncos have at the next position.

Starters: T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart
Backups: Shiloh Keo, Justin Simmons
Fighting for roster spots: Ryan Murphy, Will Parks, Brandian Ross, Antonio Glover
Notes: With so many safeties, you have to wonder if the Broncos will eventually keep five on the final roster. Parks may be the most intriguing of those players who are looking to secure a final roster spot.

Starter: Brandon McManus
Notes: We know what we have in McManus.

Fighting for the roster spot: Britton Colquitt, Will Johnson, Riley Dixon
Notes: I suspect it’s the final season we’ll see Colquitt with the Broncos. It’s even possible a cut could happen before training camp. One thing to keep in mind: Colquitt is the holder on kick attempts, so if he is cut, whoever becomes the Broncos’ punter will likely have to take those duties.

Long snapper
Fighting for the roster spot: Casey Kreiter, Nathan Theus
Notes: We have two players competing for these duties. May the best man win.

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Bob Morris

I'm a sports writer in real life, though I've always focused on smaller communities, but that hasn't stopped me from learning more about some of the ins and outs of the NFL. You can follow me on Twitter @BobMorrisSports if you can put up with updates on the high school sports teams I cover.