The Denver Broncos will kick off training camp in exactly one week. With a roster as talented and deep as the Broncos’, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for unknown quantities to make an impact. Maybe not in terms of starting, but certainly in terms of shaking things up on the 53-man roster.
But here are a few spots and some specific players to watch at Denver Broncos training camp.
Running Back, California
After going undrafted in 2013, Anderson was signed by the Broncos to come in and raise the level of competition in their running back corps. That’s exactly what he did. His break out game against the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason obviously made a huge impression of the coaching staff. So huge that even after he injured his knee just days later, and would miss the rest of the preseason and some of the regular season, the Broncos still chose to keep him on their 53-man roster. With Knowshon Moreno gone, this could be the year that we see Anderson take a huge step forward. When he’s on the field, he runs with authority and great short area burst. His powerful lower body makes it very difficult for defenders to bring him down. Although Anderson faces some competition in the form of Ronnie Hillman, Brennan Clay, and Kapri Bibbs, don’t expect him to back down from it. He’s already overcome the odds by making a NFL roster, after having not been drafted. He could end up being Montee Ball’s backup, provided he gets his pass protection down pat.
Defensive End, Western Kentucky
Does anyone remember watching Smith absolutely embarrass Alabama’s D.J. Fluker and Cyrus Kouandjio back in 2012? He notched 3 sacks against ‘Bama’s vaunted offensive line. Smith went on to lead the NCAA in sacks, and then he tore his ACL. Going into the 2013 draft, a lot of draftniks had a 1st round grade on Smith. Because of his injury, he ended up falling into the hands of the Denver Broncos in the 5th round. They kicked the tires in training camp to see if he was far enough along in his rehab to impact the defense, but alas, he wasn’t. The team put him on IR for the season. Broncos Country, let me tell you, you’re in for a real treat. Now that Smith his fully operational, we’re going to see him do what the Broncos drafted him to do. Get after the QB. He has an explosive first step and a supernatural ability to bend on the edge. I’m licking my chops thinking about how the Broncos’ nickel will look with Miller, Wolfe/Jackson, Smith, and Ware getting after it.
Some players have to fall and bump their heads before they realize their full potential. They call it the School of Hard Knocks. My alma mater. John Boyett is such a player. After earning First Team All American honors in 2012 with the Oregon Ducks, Boyett went on to get drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 6th round of the 2013 draft. After embarrassing himself and the club with a run-in with Johnny Law, he was released. The Broncos picked him up. I am really high on this kid. He used to back up T.J. Ward at Oregon. That mean-streak that Ward plays with obviously rubbed off on Boyett. He’s intense. He’s a thumper. He’s scrappy. He’s not the most athletic safety in the NFL, but he more than makes up for it with his other attributes. Don’t be surprised when he makes the roster. He’s going to turn some heads in camp.
The Broncos had their sights set on Barrow from the very beginning of last May’s draft. When he fell to them in the 5th round, they couldn’t have been more ecstatic. Barrow is a rangy, fast tackling machine, with high character and football intelligence. He led the Tigers in tackles and was the Captain of their defense. As a rookie, he has his work cut out for him. If he wants to see the field, his best opportunity is to try and unseat Nate Irving from the MIKE position. Irving now has several years in the system under his belt, and the team is giving him every opportunity to succeed, so it won’t be easy. Barrow could see time in the Broncos’ nickel package. Maybe. I think the team will be more likely to move T.J. Ward down into the box as the 2nd nickel LB and bring in another safety to play strong, like Quinton Carter, or John Boyett. Either way, Barrow is an excellent depth guy at the very least and will flash bigtime in camp.
Quarterback, North Carolina
Last year the Broncos carried 3 QBs on their 53-man roster. Manning, Osweiler and Dysert. If they go the same route in 2014, Dysert will have a very hard time holding onto that QB3 spot because of one Bryn Renner. Inexplicably, Renner went undrafted out of North Carolina. He is a quintessential pocket QB. Unlike Dysert, he has excellent footwork and mechanics, but doesn’t have the cannon that Dysert does. However, Renner more than makes up for that with his knowledge of the game and gunslinger mentality. I’m high on this kid. Mark my words, after the preseason, SOME NFL TEAM is going to want this kid, even if it isn’t the Broncos. But I think it will be. Renner will send Dysert packing. Alas, such is the nature of the NFL.