For an NFL team, a really solid problem to have is depth, and the Broncos have plenty.
Specifically, the wide receiver and tight end positions are loaded with young talent and playmakers, guys that have a chance to make an impact in this league for a long time.
When it comes time for the coaches and front office to make final cuts this offseason, they’re going to have a whale of a time doing so. The Broncos can only keep 61 players in total – 53 on the active roster and eight on the practice squad – and with depth elsewhere on the roster, they’ll have to be really strategic about how they maximize the potential of the entire team but also capitalize on areas of strength, especially where young players are coming out of the woodwork.
With so much talent and upside at these positions, I’ve laid out a plan that I think will help the Broncos maximize the young talent they have at these skill positions with developmental options as well as guys who can learn on the job in 2014.
I think the Broncos should keep six wide receivers. This team uses so many three wide sets and the ability to use Julius Thomas anywhere on the field negates their need for more depth, but the Broncos have a couple of reasons to keep six receivers.
1. Contract situations
2. Kick/Punt Return Upside
The Broncos have two key players up for new contracts at the end of this season in Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, and also need a kick/punt returner. To this point, Emmanuel Sanders hasn’t done a lot of that at training camp but has voiced his willingness to do so.
There are many who believe the Broncos are only going to keep five receivers with their depth elsewhere on the roster, but I think if one player is left off the final roster in particular, the return specialist spots could really suffer.
For this reason, I am proposing the Broncos keep Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer, Andre Caldwell, and Isaiah Burse on the 53-man roster when all is said and done. The first five players on that list are obvious locks to make the team, but Burse is a wild card. The UDFA out of Fresno State has dynamic return abilities but is also a very good slot WR prospect. He does a great job of snatching the ball out of the air and creating separation with his quickness. He’s also very good after the catch.
I also think Burse would catch on with another team if the Broncos tried to sneak him onto the practice squad, as he had many suitors after the draft.
At the tight end position, I could see the Broncos keeping four tight ends, but it’s hard to think they’ll do that if they end up keeping six receivers. The pre-season could be a key determining factor of whether the Broncos keep a fourth tight end, namely Gerell Robinson who has put on weight to play the position and has a chemistry with next-in-line franchise QB Brock Osweiler.
If the Broncos are fine rolling with just three running backs, they could keep Robinson as a fourth tight end, but that might be a longshot option with six receivers. I think realistically, the Broncos would keep three tight ends if they keep six receivers: Julius Thomas, Jacob Tamme, Virgil Green.
This would be an ideal spot for the Broncos to keep one, maybe two receivers or a receiver and a tight end. If Gerell Robinson is still eligible, he’d be a great candidate to continue developing but it wouldn’t shock me to see him bolt for another situation if he deems himself ready to go.
Bennie Fowler and Greg Hardin are two young UDFAs who have impressed at training camp, and it would be great to be able to house both on the practice squad, giving the Broncos a total of 10-12 WR/TE on both the active roster and practice squad.
What do you think? How would you maximize this amazing group of players?