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Breaking down the Broncos’ roster battles entering training camp

Zac Stevens Avatar
July 14, 2019

 

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos’ roster battles entering training camp are like a scrappy pickup basketball team.

The battles themselves aren’t star-studded—only two starting positions are up for grabs—but there’s a lot of depth positions up for grabs.

Some of the following roster battles will determine who will make the 53-man roster, while others will actually have a significant impact on the field this year.

Here’s how they breakdown entering training camp.

Third receiver

Frontrunner: DaeSean Hamilton

Competitors: Tim Patrick, Juwann Winfree, River Cracraft

Other players at the position: Brendan Langley, Trinity Benson, Fred Brown, Aaron Burbridge, Romell Guerrier, Kelvin McKnight

Assuming Emmanuel Sanders is healthy, which all signs point to that being the case, the Broncos top two receiving spots are set with Sanders and Courtland Sutton.

Entering camp, Hamilton has a fairly comfortable grasp on the team’s third spot. Not only did he end 2018 on fire—25 catches in the final four games, a pace of 100 catches for an entire season—he’s developed a nice connection with Joe Flacco during the offseason.

Tim Patrick also finished 2018 impressively and has rare size (6-foot-5) on his side. Sixth-round pick Juwann Winfree poses potentially the biggest threat to Hamilton’s spot as he’s chalked full of talent, but the learning curve as a rookie will make it very difficult for him to take that leap in camp.

Third cornerback

Frontrunner: Isaac Yiadom

Competitors: De’Vante Bausby

Other players at the position: Alijah Holder, Trey Johnson, Horace Richardson, Linden Stephens

If and when Kareem Jackson is playing at corner, then this conversation switches to who will be the fourth cornerback. But, Jackson has primarily been playing safety and floating around the field during the offseason.

Regardless of semantics, the spot after the clear top three cornerbacks is a juicy two-man race.

Former third-round pick Isaac Yiadom enters with the slightest lead, not because of what he’s done this offseason, but because of what Bausby has, or hasn’t, done. Yiadom was sidelined from team periods during most of the offseason recovering from an injury he suffered at the end of last year.

As a rookie, Yiadom was thrown into the fire near the end of the season and showed enough promise to feel comfortable in his future.

De’Vante Bausby, on the other hand, has had quite the journey just in the past year. After leading the AAF in interceptions, Vic Fangio quickly signed the talented cornerback once the league dissolved.

Bausby was incredibly impressive during OTAs, including shutting down Courtland Sutton on many occasions.

However, at two different times during the offseason, Fangio publicly challenged Bausby’s effort level. This raised concerns not only if Bausby will be consistent once training camp rolls around, but also about his standing with the head coach and de facto defensive coordinator.

Backup insider linebacker

Frontrunner: Joe Jones

Competitors: Keishawn Bierria

Other players at the position: Alexander Johnson, Justin Hollins, Joe Dineen, Josh Watson

There was an incredible amount of buzz surrounding the Broncos adding an insider linebacker or two this offseason after Fangio stated he wanted the team to do just that at the combine.

Free agency came and went with no insider backer. Devin Bush was on the board when the Broncos were on the clock in the first round. They passed.

While starters Todd Davis and Josey Jewell don’t profile as ideal Fangio linebackers, could it be the answer is with the backups?

Joe Jones and Keishawn Bierria aren’t too far off from the mold Fangio has thrived with in the past. But Jones, an undrafted free agent in 2017, fits the profile extraordinarily well.

Jones’ 6-foot, 240-pound frame fits in just fine, but it’s his 4.49 40-yard dash speed that separates him. In fact, Roquan Smith, who Fangio drafted No. 8 overall last year with the Bears, is 6-foot-1, 236 pounds and ran a 4.51 40.

Jones’ athletic ability doesn’t just give him the leg-up for the backup spot, it gives him an interesting chance to develop into a starter down the road under Fangio.

Fourth safety

Frontrunner: Dymonte Thomas

Competitors: Jamal Carter, Su’a Cravens, Shamarko Thomas, Trey Marshall

Behind Justin Simmons, Will Parks and Kareem Jackson—when he’s not playing cornerback—the next safety spot is wide open for the taking. The field, outside of Shamarko Thomas (28), is incredibly young as they are all 25 or younger.

Dymonte Thomas enters camp with the slight lead after an impressive preseason last year where he displayed his versatility—a key trait in the eyes of Fangio.

Su’a Cravens and Jamal Carter also have the physical abilities to play all over the field, but Fangio has made it very clear Cravens is fighting to make the team, while Carter is returning from the injured reserve.

Backup quarterback

Frontrunner: Kevin Hogan

Competitors: Drew Lock

Other players at the position: Brett Rypien

Sigh. What are we doing here?

Drew Lock should be the backup now—He was the team’s second-round pick afterall.

But entering camp Hogan holds the lead, although it did dwindle during the offseason.

By the time Week 1 rolls around, this should be Lock’s job.

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