Despite the NFL being in its ‘offseason’ there are plenty of things going on, and for the Broncos, not all of those things are good.
But despite the foolish decisions of new Broncos safety T.J. Ward, there are a lot of things to be excited about, and so many things to analyze.
I wanted to present you with some must-read articles I found from a couple of sites, and give you my reaction to those articles.
Let’s start off with an article from Andrew Mason, one of the best in the business, talking about three Broncos players recovering from injury:
Obviously the focus of this offseason has been the impending return on the defensive side of the football of guys like Derek Wolfe, Von Miller, Chris Harris, Kevin Vickerson, and Rahim Moore, but Mason took a deeper look at some guys coming off of injured reserve and it’s a group that includes plenty of potential and talent.
Safety Quinton Carter, defensive end Quanterus Smith, and linebacker Lerentee McCray are all young players that the Broncos have hopes to bolster their defensive depth with.
The guy with the most experience on that list is safety Quinton Carter, who picked off Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in the 2011 playoffs before missing two straight seasons due to injury. The Broncos used two picks in the 2011 NFL Draft on the safety position and in a weak group at the position probably came away with two of the best in the class with Moore and Carter.
People tend to forget that before Moore was essentially thrust into the starting role in 2012, he was beat out for a job at FS by Carter. He’s certainly going to have to earn his way back into the rotation, but there’s no doubt the Broncos would love to be able to get back some version of the Carter that was showing great signs of improvement at the end of his rookie year.
Rookie running back Juwan Thompson from Duke was arguably the most gifted player I scouted when looking through undrafted free agent running backs. Obviously a lot of Broncos fans are clamoring for Kapri Bibbs, because he racked up 31 touchdowns and over 1,700 yards rushing this past season at Colorado State.
Because Bibbs is a local prospect, he’s got the backing of a good portion of Broncos fans but he isn’t going to be handed anything even though he is the most well-known UDFA in the RB competition.
The Broncos also added this kid from Duke, who was one of six players on the team last year to get 60 carries or more. The system he played in at college wasn’t favorable to any one singular player, but as he recounts, he made sacrifices so the team could win ball games.
And they did.
Thompson played linebacker in an emergency situation for Duke last year, and also was a special teams captain, which he feels can help him make the Broncos right away.
“There is opportunity here … and I know my special teams ability can help.”
Thompson also observed the Broncos’ offense first-hand when they went and worked out at Duke this offseason. He didn’t participate as I had speculated he potentially could have, but he was able to meet the guys and that connection could help him in his pursuit of a roster spot.
Bryn Renner’s senior season at North Carolina wasn’t a good one, cut short by injuries and to be frank, not a lot of good quarterback play beforehand anyway.
But Renner was dominant near the end of his junior season, and is the son of a coach, which is reflected in his work habits off the field. He felt like he may have been good enough throughout the course of his career to earn a day three selection, but he had braced himself to go undrafted and when he did, he knew Denver would be a fantastic situation.
“I think for a young quarterback, the best transition period is the learning transition. I think sometimes if you’re forced into playing right away, or you’re forced into a situation that you’re not ready for, it can force you out of this league pretty quick,” Renner said. “I thought this was the best fit for me to learn. That’s really all I’m trying to do — trying to get my foot in the door in this league. Just trying to make the team any way — practice squad, any way I can. I think this was the best situation to learn from the greatest to ever play. How could you not want to come to Denver? It’s obviously a winning team and a Super Bowl contender every year.”
The Broncos have four quarterbacks currently on the roster, and Renner is among the three young QBs that has a rare opportunity to sit in the film room with Peyton Manning, to sit in meetings with Manning, to learn how he prepares for games and to learn his work habits.
John Elway knows what it’s like for a franchise to scramble like a fish out of water after a legendary quarterback retires, so if the Broncos have 1-3 years left of Peyton Manning, they are going to need to have a replacement option or multiple options whenever he decides to ‘hang ‘em up.’
Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to the Broncos using three spots on the 53-man roster at the QB position and then keeping one other QB like Renner on the practice squad, but I am not sure if that has been done before. This is a rare situation, however, so having that experience learning from Manning and getting even a couple of reps on practice while soaking in those habits is something that would be really valuable for any young QB the Broncos decide to bring in.
If Renner is a guy they have hand-picked and identified as a player who has potential to succeed in their system, it would be wise to keep him on the practice squad and see what he can offer down the road.