With the start of training camp just 33 days away, 90 Bronco players will all be trying to prove their worth in order to make the 53 man roster.
In years gone by, the Broncos have had a strong tradition of UDFA making the roster, along with the promotion of practice squad players to the 53. It’s a remarkable statistic that in 12 of the last 13 seasons a player who wasn’t selected in the showpiece of the draft, made it via the side door of training camps and rookie try-outs. It also means some vets will get cut.
It shows the Broncos coaching department has an eye for talent, but it also shows that there are exceptional players deep within the college game getting let down by agents or teams looking at checklist players. Some are also quickly dismissed because they came from smaller schools.
This year, there are 15 UDFA who will be pushing hard to follow in the footsteps of Brandon Marshall, Bennie Fowler, Chris Harris Jr and Jordan Taylor and make the Broncos roster. There is significant noise already about the potential of WR Marlon Brown and TE Steven Scheu. Additionally, TE Henry Krieger-Coble will also push for a roster spot after spending the last games on the 53.
With young guns like Jamal Carter competing for a spot, some vets will be required to work harder to prove their big salaries are justifiable. Take the tight end battle for example: Last season a really poor offense could force the Broncos to look at replacing Virgil Green. The 6 year veteran could become a cap casualty.
Green is scheduled to make 2.8 million this year with only 500,000 counting against the Broncos if he gets cut. Unfortunately for him, McCoy loads his rosters with catching TE’s and Green is weak in that area. With both Scheu and Krieger-Coble the same size as Green, they both come in at considerably cheaper options.
Also, based on several reports, Steven Scheu has been making good connections in OTA’s with Paxton Lynch. This is also true for WR Marlon Brown. The former Raven was dealing with a lingering knee issue, or he may have made the 53. He’s healthy now and based on reports, he was hot in OTAs.
Wide Receiver and special teams were a mess last year. Take out Thomas and Sanders and the receiving core was poor and short on quality. It appears the Broncos have addressed some of the issues in the draft, which could spell the end for maybe Bennie Fowler or Cody Latimer–or possibly both.
Latimer will only cost 250,000 against the cap and Fowler would cost nothing. Both players are free agents next year to boot. There may be some trade value with Latimer since he was good on special teams last year.
The Broncos wanted more speed and more play makers from this year’s draft class and free agency class – and in early evaluation it appears Mckenzie, Henderson hit that. But it’s Marlon Brown’s size and speed that could also upend Fowler and Latimer.
I’m pretty confident that the Broncos’ remarkable streak of discovering quality UDFA and practice squad players making the final 53 man roster will continue with this 2017 class. From all initial reports from OTAs, it appears multiple players may become the next generation of surprising talent.