The jury is still out on the Denver Broncos class of 2013, and likely will be for a long while. The Broncos have seen significant contributions this season from just a couple of players, mainly the first three selected by the team. So, keep in mind for this list, a lot will be changing between now and a couple of years from now. Heck, a lot could change between now and two weeks from now. Either way, here is something of a progress report for the Denver Broncos’ rookie class to this point.
1. Kayvon Webster, CB (3rd round pick)
Webster has been the shocker of the year for me. After the Broncos took him in the third round, I was stunned to say the least. Webster wasn’t even on my radar as a prospect, but I should really learn to trust this crew’s judgment in defensive backs. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Rahim Moore pick, though I knew it was probably necessary, and the team also LOL’d at everyone in the league by getting Chris Harris as an undrafted free agent.
The Broncos’ front office has done a great job of identifying fits for their defensive scheme at the CB position, and Webster has been an outstanding pickup, seemingly passing Tony Carter on the depth chart. This guy is aggressive, hits like a ton of bricks, and has a really bright future ahead of him.
2. Montee Ball, RB (2nd round pick)
Ball hasn’t been good this year so far, which is a clear indication of just how raw this Broncos rookie class is. However, compared to the other rooks, Ball has made the most significant contributions.
He has 40 carries for 124 yards, no touchdowns, and a couple of pretty awful fumbles. Ball never fumbled in college, but Eric Decker never really dropped any passes in college either.
I think Ball will be fine, but right now things haven’t really gone his way.
3. Sylvester Williams, DT (1st round pick)
The Broncos are clearly bringing Williams along very slowly. He has just two tackles this season and has been a healthy inactive. Denver’s rotation right now of Kevin Vickerson, Terrance Knighton, Mitch Unrein, and Malik Jackson on the interior as well as the ability of Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe to play inside have allowed Williams to learn the NFL game without having to learn on the job the hard way.
I think against Jacksonville, he could see his most extensive playing time yet. Still, approaching his 25th birthday, the Broncos need to make sure to maximize Williams’ time in the NFL and not force him to do too much too soon.
4. C.J. Anderson, RB (Undrafted Free Agent)
Anderson made the final 53 man roster, so obviously the Broncos have plans to use him at some point. Even if he is simply the emergency running back, you have to love the fire we had seen out of Anderson prior to his injury.
After making the roster, Anderson vowed that if/when he got his chance to make a play for the Broncos, he wouldn’t let it go.
5. Zac Dysert, QB (7th round pick)
Dysert had a solid showing in the Broncos’ final pre-season game, and he played well enough that the front office didn’t feel like they could keep him on the practice squad (send him through waivers).
I think Dysert is a solid developmental QB prospect who has some upside down the road, and obviously he’s getting to learn from Peyton Manning and see how the best of the best in the NFL prepare.
6. Tavarres King, WR (5th round pick)
King made the Broncos’ practice squad after showing some decent playmaking ability in the pre-season and during training camp, but he went all the way through waivers after being cut by Denver following the pre-season.
I really like King’s playmaking ability and speed, and the fact that the Broncos get to develop him without using a roster spot is a really shrewd move by John Elway and company. This is a name to keep an eye on.
7. John Youboty, DE (Undrafted Free Agent)
Youboty is a pass rush prospect who has played all over for the Broncos at practice according to some reports I have read. At 6’4″ 258 pounds, he has pretty good size for a DE and showed some playmaking skills in college that made him a very enticing undrafted prospect.
Youboty could get called up to the Broncos’ active roster at some point with their overall lack of depth at the DE positions in case someone is hurt for any length of time. However, this is another name to keep an eye on as we move forward.
8. Vinston Painter, OT (6th round pick)
Painter is the final of the healthy Denver Broncos rookies and another practice squad player who is going to need a lot of seasoning before he’s NFL-ready. He looked really raw in the pre-season and the Broncos were able to get another developmental guy and draft pick to the practice squad with no one interfering via the waivers process. This is a very good athlete with some upside whom many projected as a fourth round pick.
9. Lerentee McCray, OLB (Undrafted Free Agent)
When the Broncos lost Lerentee McCray for the season, it was a pretty annoying blow to their pass rush depth. It hasn’t turned out to cost them any victories obviously, and also allowed the team to snatch up Adrian Robinson from the Philadelphia Eagles, but McCray is a guy who has a lot of upside.
If not for his injury, McCray would be ranked much higher than this. He has a chance to be a serious impact player in 2014.
10. Quanterus Smith, DE (5th round pick)
Smith, like McCray, is going to be counted upon in a big way next season. Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips are both scheduled to be free agents, and while Smith didn’t suffer any further injuries in 2013, the Broncos felt good enough about their DE position to send him to IR and let him get fully healed for next season.
This is a guy with big time pass rush ability who is still developing his overall game, but this is a prospect I really like for the future.