There were a lot of Denver Broncos that didn’t sleep well last night and it wasn’t because of the 32-34 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It’s because for many, they’ll be looking for a new job come Saturday. That’s when the Broncos must cut their current roster of 75 down to 53.
After the final preseason performance, the roster breakdown has become more clear. Here are some predictions for the final roster.
Quarterback (3) — Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Zac Dysert
How can you not keep Zac Dysert around after his two scoring drives and going 9-of-20 for 163 yards with one touchdown? His 25-yard pass to Gerell Robinson’s back shoulder in the end zone was something that we never saw Tim Tebow do on purpose. If the team doesn’t put Dysert on the active roster, I don’t think he’ll clear waivers and make it to the practice squad. The Bills or Jets would likely start him. Hey, we may have an Osweiler-Dysert quarterback controversy in the near future.
Running back (4) – Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball
There are plenty of other intriguing stories out of the backfield, but this grouping would be most reliable. Sure, we could wonder what Jeremiah Johnson would do on the active roster. He did have a 9-yard touchdown run on the Broncos’ first series against the Cardinals. Sure, we could dream of what C.J. Anderson could do if he didn’t hurt his knee. Sure, Jacob Hester provides great pass protection and a solid receiving threat out of the backfield, but the Broncos are looking to the future. That’s why Hillman and Montee Ball are atop the depth chart. Then, there’s the potential of Moreno, and the stability of Lance Ball. Really, all the backs need to do is hang onto the ball.
Wide Receiver (6) – Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Andre Caldwell, Gerell Robinson, Trindon Holliday
The top three are a lock as is Andre Caldwell, who consistently proved himself in camp. Holliday is set in stone as well not for his hands, but for his speedy legs on special teams. At the fifth spot, I say Gerell Robinson wins this battle over rookie Tavaress King. It was clear that Larry Fitzgerald mentored the undrafted free agent last season while he was on the Cardinals’ practice squad. Robinson led the team in receiving with 5 catches for 99 yards and the touchdown on Thursday night. King never really impressed during camp. Granted, he still needs time to develop, but if the Broncos’ “win now” philosophy holds true, Robinson should be the guy.
Tight End (3) – Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Julius Thomas
Tamme and Dreessen were a couple of Manning’s favorite targets last year while Thomas has shown great improvements this year with increased playing time. Yes, I cut Virgil Green to make room for Dysert. Green could make the practice squad.
Offensive Line (9) – Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Zane Beadles, Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez, Chris Clark, Chris Kuper, John Moffitt, Ryan Lilja
There are no real big surprises here except for maybe the fact that Philip Blake is cut out. Blake has practice squad eligibility, but he should have played a bigger role in preseason when Dan Koppen and J.D. Walton were lost with significant injuries.
Defensive Line (9) - Derek Wolfe, Robert Ayers, Malik Jackson, Quanterus Smith, Terrance Knighton, Kevin Vickerson, Sylvester Williams, Mitch Unrein, Jeremy Beal
Von Miller won’t count against the 53-man roster since he’s starting the season on the reserve/suspended list. Larentee McCray had made a name for himself, but suffered a severe ankle sprain after a 3-tackle, one sack, one forced fumble performance against the Cardinals. He likely won’t clear the waivers.
Cornerback (6) – Champ Bailey, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris, Tony Carter, Kaybon Webster, Omar Bolden
The Broncos won’t keep Quentin Jammer around. The only reason they’re keeping Bolden and not going with five corners is because Bolden provides flexibility in the secondary with the ability to play both corner and safety. He’s also a solid contributor on special teams.
Safety (4) – Rahim Moore, Duke Ihenacho, Mike Adams, David Bruton
No real questions here. It will be interesting to see how Ihenacho and Adams play off each other.
Speacial Teams (3) – Matt Prater, Britton Colquitt, Aaron Brewer
There you have it. The Broncos 53-man roster in my eyes. Let’s see what happens by 4:00 p.m. Saturday.