Following a 7-9 season in 2019, John Elway and the Broncos understandably wanted to add more pieces to their roster heading into the 2020 season.
Denver, who hasn't made the postseason since winning Super Bowl 50, has made several big offseason acquisitions, including the signing of former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. Denver also drafted three receivers for quarterback Drew Lock, who enjoyed a promising rookie campaign that included a 4-1 record as the Broncos' starter.
The Broncos also added several pieces to a defense that allowed just 28 touchdowns during the 2019 season. Along with drafting four players on the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos also traded for former Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye and former Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey. These acquisitions will look to help the Broncos compete in an AFC West division that includes the defending world champion Chiefs, led by 2018 league MVP Patrick Mahomes.
With the start of training camp just around the corner, here's a look at the Broncos' projected Week 1 starters, as well as what Denver's 53-man roster might look like when the regular season begins.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
|QB||Drew Lock||Jeff Driskel|| |
|RB||Melvin Gordon||Phillip Lindsay||Royce Freeman|
|FB||Andrew Beck|| || |
|LWR||Courtland Sutton||Diontae Spencer||Tyrie Cleveland*|
|RWR||Jerry Jeudy*||DaeSean Hamilton|| |
|SWR||KJ Hamler*|| || |
|TE||Noah Fant||Nick Vannett||Albert Okwuegbunam*|
|LT||Garett Bolles||Elijah Wilkinson|| |
|LG||Dalton Risner||Tyler Jones|| |
|C||Lloyd Cushenberry*||Patrick Morris|| |
|RG||Graham Glasgow||Netane Muti|| |
|RT||Ja'Wuan James||Calvin Anderson|| |
The Broncos enter the 2020 season with one of the NFL's deepest backfields. While who will be the starting running back will be one of the big storylines heading into the season, fans should expect to see considerable contributions from both Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon in 2020. New Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur recently said that he is looking forward to using both players in multiple ways during the upcoming season. My guess is that the starting job will ultimately go to Gordon, who was brought in on a two-year, $16 million deal earlier this offseason.
Despite the fresh faces at his position, Courtland Sutton should still be projected as the team's No. 1 receiver heading into Week 1. That being said, Denver fans should expect significant contributions from rookies Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, who will likely be in the starting lineup when the Broncos face the Titans in Week 1. If he wants to join his fellow rookie receivers on the 53-man roster, seventh-round pick Tyrie Cleveland may have to beat out veterans Tim Patrick, Diontae Spencer and DaeSean Hamilton.
The Broncos have several interesting position battles on their offensive line. Elway recently told reporters that Elijah Wilkinson could compete with Garett Bolles to be the team's starting left tackle. The Broncos are also expecting significant contributions from rookies Lloyd Cushenberry and Netane Muti.
|DE||Shelby Harris||Dre'Mont Jones|
|NT||Mike Purcell||McTelvin Agim*|
|DE||Jurrell Casey||DeMarcus Walker|
|SILB||Bradley Chubb||Malik Reed||Derrek Tuszka*|
|ILB||Alexander Johnson||Joseph Jones||Justin Strnad*|
|ILB||Todd Davis||Josey Jewell|
|WILB||Von Miller||Jeremiah Attacho||Justin Hollins|
|LCB||A.J. Bouye||De'Vante Bausby||Isaac Yiadom|
|RCB||Bryce Callahan||Michael Ojemudia*|
|SS||Kareem Jackson||Trey Marshall|
|FS||Justin Simmons||Kahani Smith|
While Denver's starting defense is just about set, there are some intriguing battles to keep an eye on as it relates to the rest of the depth chart. Third-round pick McTelvin Agim will have to beat out Kyle Peko to be Purcell's backup at nose tackle. Derrek Tuszka, the Broncos' final pick in the 2020 draft, will have to compete with Justin Hollins and Malik Reed if he wants to earn reps on Broncos' defense. He will likely have to cut his teeth on special teams first before earning any time on defense.
Fifth-round pick Justin Strnad is also facing an uphill battle as it relates to earning playing time on Denver's defense. The same can be said for undrafted rookie Douglas Coleman, who will likely have to beat out Kahani Smith if he wants to earn a spot on Denver's 53-man roster.
One rookie that should make an instant impact on the Broncos' defense is Michael Ojemudia, a third-round pick who has an outside shot at earning a starting job at some point during the season.
|KR||Diontae Spencer||KJ Hamler|
|PR||Diontae Spencer||DaeSean Hamilton||KJ Hamler|
Brandon McManus is coming off a season that saw him make 85.3% of his field goal attempts and all but one of his 26 point-after attempts. Martin, an eight-year veteran who spent his first seven seasons with the Lions, has a career average of 46 yards per punt.
The job of kick returner is Diontae Spencer's to lose after Spencer averaged over 29 yards per return in 2019, his first season with the Broncos. Fans should keep an eye on the possible position battle between Hamler and Hamilton. Hamler had success as a punt and kickoff returner at Penn State, while Hamilton, a fellow Penn State alum, is also looking to make an impact on special teams as he enters his third season in Denver.