With Denver Broncos training camp set to start in just a few weeks, I thought we could all discuss our expectations about how certain training camp battles will take shape and who might emerge as key players.
So I’ve put together 20 polls for everyone to vote in regarding a few issues that will likely be in our minds as training camp gets underway. It gives us all a chance to see what we think about positional battles and other issues.
I will include my own thoughts about each of the poll questions. People are free to talk more about why they see certain position battles go the way they think they will or who they expect could be the surprises in training camp.
The polls start after the jump.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is who is going to be the starting quarterback to open the season. There have been positive reports about both Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, but we know from watching each of them last season that there are some concerns about their prospects as a long-term solution.
Siemian would appear to have the inside track for the job, given his experience last year, and that it may be too soon to judge him given that he played through injuries last season. And Lynch showed in the few snaps he took that he still has plenty of development ahead of him.
However, it would not surprise me if Lynch secures the starting job. Something tells me that he will do well under Mike McCoy’s tutelage and feel more comfortable in his second season.
Mr. Irrelevant is expected to start throwing in two weeks. It would not surprise me to see him open training camp on the physically unable to perform list. However, there’s a chance he could take the field during the preseason. As long as he continues progressing in his recovery from injury, I believe he’ll see the field and do enough to warrant being the No. 3 QB on the depth chart.
I think it’s safe to say that CJ Anderson will make the active roster, but there might not be enough room for all three of the running backs who will split the workload with him. (I don’t expect either Bernard Pierce or Juwan Thompson to make the active roster.) Though the Broncos did use a draft pick on DeAngelo Henderson, I suspect they are hoping they can slip him onto the practice squad. I don’t think Devontae Booker’s spot is in jeopardy and the Broncos wouldn’t have brought Jamaal Charles on board if they didn’t think he could contribute this season.
Though Mike McCoy’s offense hasn’t always utilized a fullback, that doesn’t mean Janovich won’t have a role with the team. He could still be useful as a short yardage back or McCoy could implement more plays to get Janovich involved as a blocker. So I think Janovich will stick around.
What the Broncos really need as the No. 3 WR is a slot receiver. Jordan Taylor is a fan favorite, but his skill set suggests he’s more like Demaryius Thomas and thus isn’t slot material. Cody Latimer is the same way. Bennie Fowler did play a bit out of the slot last season but didn’t really stand out. That leaves Carlos Henderson — there is a reason the Broncos drafted him on day two. And I’m betting Henderson seizes the opportunity and proves to be the No. 3 receiver and slot guy the Broncos need.
Kalif Raymond was called up from the practice squad last season but didn’t exactly impress as a return man. The Broncos drafted Isaiah McKenzie, likely because they saw him as return man material. Brendan Langley does have experience returning punts, but probably isn’t who the Broncos want as the primary option. That makes McKenzie the favorite to win the role.
Similarly, I would expect McKenzie to take the role as the kick returner, too. Though some have doubted whether or not Cody Latimer will make the roster, he does have experience returning kicks and could be kept as the second option. Of course, there could be somebody else who emerges to take that role.
Early indications are that A.J. Derby and Jeff Heuerman have passed Virgil Green. Though a depth chart won’t be released until a few days into training camp, if Green is named atop that depth chart, that doesn’t mean his spot is secure. If both Derby and Heuerman impress in the preseason, Green’s roster spot is in jeopardy, particularly given the salary he’ll be due.
Butt hasn’t participated in OTAs as he recovers from his knee injury. It seems certain he will open training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The Broncos could decide to leave him there going into the regular season and monitor his recovery — they would have to wait a few weeks to activate him, but that would appear to be the most logical option. I suspect the Broncos would prefer to keep IR placements with designations to return for usage during the regular season.
Given early reports that Garett Bolles has impressed the coaches, I would not be surprised to see him win the starting job at left tackle. I know that might make some people nervous, but thus far, Bolles seems to be doing everything he can to prove the skeptics wrong.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again: Donald Stephenson taking a pay cut for the time being doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot. He will have to clearly outperform Ty Sambrailo to win the job — if they perform at an equal level, Sambrailo sticks around and Stephenson is gone. Only if Sambrailo falls flat on his face will he be in danger of being waived. But if he shows enough to warrant another year on the active roster, he’ll get it over Stephenson.
Early indicators are that Connor McGovern has impressed the Broncos — he’s currently listed as a guard/center and the Broncos parted ways with James Ferentz, who was higher up the depth chart last year. Therefore, McGovern should be safe. That likely leaves the other backup guard spot between Schofield and Turner. Schofield’s starting experience could give him the edge in a training camp battle, but another possibility is that the Broncos could keep Turner and do something else with Schofield. That brings me to the next poll question.
If Billy Turner and Connor McGovern both impress in training camp and the preseason, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Broncos put Michael Schofield on the trading block. Remember that the Broncos did get a late-round pick for Chris Clark in a deal with the Texans a couple of years, so a trade is not out of the question. Cody Latimer could also become trade bait if he plays well in the preseason but the Broncos are more comfortable with others as backup WRs. As for Ty Sambrailo, I suspect he’ll only get put on the trading block if Donald Stephenson has a strong training camp and preseason.
If reports out of OTAs are any indication, Adam Gotsis could be starting opposite Derek Wolfe to open the regular season. That could mean Jared Crick is cut, because DeMarcus Walker and Billy Winn would be cheaper backups.
We’ve see the Broncos keep five outside linebackers before. That being said, Vontarrius Dora is still eligible for the practice squad and the Broncos added Kasim Edabali in free agency, so I expect Edabali to be the fourth OLB. Of course, Dora could be kept if Shaquil Barrett’s recovery from injury takes longer than expected.
Thus far, I see little reason to believe that Corey Nelson and Zaire Anderson won’t make the active roster. Both have been key contributors to special teams, Nelson is the right player to rotate with Todd Davis and Anderson has been solid in the few defensive snaps he’s played.
To be clear, I don’t think the Broncos keep just four cornerbacks — this poll question is about who will be fourth on the depth chart to open the regular season. Doss probably has the edge, given his experience. I still expect Langley to make the active roster, but it may take some time before he works his way up the depth chart.
Jamal Carter and Orion Stewart are among the rookie safeties who have been reported as impressing the coaches in OTAs. Combine that with Justin Simmons and Will Parks doing well and it wouldn’t surprise me if five safeties make the final roster.
Kayvon Webster’s departure means the Broncos need to find a new special teams gunner. Corey Nelson, Cody Latimer and Justin Simmons all have special teams experience from last season, plus the Broncos signed Kevin Snyder to a futures contract back in January — Snyder has previous special teams experience, though injuries have kept him from sticking around on rosters for long. He’s a long shot to make the roster, though, leaving the other three as the favorites. Given that Simmons has a nose for the ball, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets the nod.
Finally, we know that it took some time before Brandon McManus signed his restricted free agent tender, which would indicate he had hoped to get an extension done. He still showed up to OTAs, giving the Broncos a reason to negotiate with him in good faith. Though there have been no reports about extension talk, that doesn’t mean such talks aren’t ongoing. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Broncos and McManus get a deal done before the season starts.
Of course, there may be more issues to consider than the 20 that I’ve mentioned. If you think any were missed, feel free to leave them in the comments.
And I will check back in a couple of weeks to see how the polls are going and review what the majority of those voting expect to happen.