NFL Mid-Season Rookie Grades: 2013 Denver Broncos


Broncos running back Montee Ball (28) carries the football in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

The Denver Broncos are grading themselves midway through the season so we’re going to do the same. Let’s start off with the rookies on the roster.

DT Sylvester Williams (round 1/28th overall)

Williams has played in six games, but hasn’t started one. Against teams that run the ball well, Williams has been listed as inactive. That’s not great for a No. 1 draft pick on the defensive line. The 6’2,” 313-pound tackle out of North Carolina has just five tackles to his name. It’s said that along with wide receiver, defensive tackle is the most difficult position to transition to out of college. Williams can no longer just use his strength to move guys around like he could at North Carolina. The technique has to come at this level. Williams missed some time in training camp with a knee injury and that’s when Kevin Vickerson and Terrance Knighton really showed their experience. Vickerson and Knighton are doing such a great job in the middle that the Broncos are in no rush to throw Williams into the fire. Mid-Season Grade: C-

RB Montee Ball (round 3/58)

Ball is a staple in the Broncos backfield now, especially with Ronnie Hillman having trouble hanging onto the ball. Ball has played in all eight games this season and has 177 yards on 55 carries (3.2 avg). He got his first career NFL touchdown against the Redskins in week 8. Ball can be accused of either trying to do too much, or hesitating too much when a big hole isn’t there. Ball is still trying to get used to “pro speed,” and a rotational back system, where finding a rhythm can be more difficult. The second half of the season is the time to keep an eye on Ball to see if he gets more comfortable. Mid-Season Grade: B-

CB Kayvon Webster (round 3/90)

Out of the University of South Florida, Webster has seen action in all eight games with one start under his belt. He was drafted to eventually fill Champ Bailey’s spot, and with Bailey’s chronic foot injury and Tony Carter’s struggles, Webster is seeing more action than what was initially expected. In his first NFL start against the Cowboys, he allowed two receptions for 50 yards (four targets). He has 16 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble to his name. Webster has some things to clean up, but he’s fast and adds nice size to the secondary. Mid-Season Grade: B+

DE Quanterus Smith (round 5/146)

Smith was placed on injured reserve after the final preseason game with an ACL injury. It came as a bit of a surprise because Smith played in over 50 snaps during the team’s fourth preseason game. Mid-Season Grade: N/A

OT Vinston Painter (round 6/173)

The rookie out of Virginia Tech has a spot on the practice squad. With all of the dings to the offensive line, there was some talk about bringing Painter up. For now he sees plenty of scout team reps. Mid-Season Grade: N/A

QB Zac Dysert (round 7/234)

As the No. 3 quarterback, Dysert has been inactive for the season. He showed some talent in preseason play though. This week, Dysert should see plenty of reps alongside Brock Osweiler, because Peyton Manning is expected to get a break. Mid-Season Grade: N/A

RB C.J. Anderson (undrafted)

Anderson was the darling of training camp. It always seems like there’s a long-shot running back that stands out, and people root for him to see the game day roster. Anderson saw his first action in week 8 after coming back from a preseason knee injury. He had just four carries but averaged 5.5 yards per carry. He also saw plenty of action on special teams against the Redskins. Anderson is a powerful low-to-the-ground back with great speed. Look for Anderson’s carries to increase as he gets in better game shape. Mid-Season Grade: B-

LB Lerentee McCray (undrafted)

He was very close to making the roster, but got placed on injured reserve with a foot injury in preseason. This was another play-making guy that people were rooting hard for in training camp. Mid-Season Grade: N/A

DE John Youboty (undrafted)

Youboty has a seat on the practice squad, and he’s one to root for just so you can say his name on game day. Mid-Season Grade: N/A

Make sure to follow Predominantly Orange on Facebook and on Twitter.