Denver Broncos roster breakdown: analyzing the depth chart


The Denver Broncos ‘finalized’ their roster on Saturday as the league-mandated cut down to 53 has once again come and gone. A number of transactions were made for Denver on Saturday, including the placement of safety T.J. Ward and defensive end Derek Wolfe on the reserve/suspended list.

The Broncos released a number of other players including veterans Sione Fua and Tony Carter, as well as two of their nine draft picks from the 2015 NFL Draft (Taurean Nixon, Josh Furman). Veteran Ben Garland, who has been with the Broncos seemingly forever, was also waived in the final round of roster cuts. We took a look at all of the cuts on Saturday here.

There should be a number of those players that were released who find their way onto the Broncos’ practice squad on Sunday, but let’s for now take a look at the roster of players that made the team, how they will contribute, and some notes and analysis on each position group.

Quarterback — 3 (3/53)

Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian (R)

This was an interesting position group to evaluate because I felt like the Broncos might try and sneak Siemian onto the practice squad. Ultimately, he probably had too much good preseason tape out there as well as a team in the 49ers who got to watch him practice for an entire week. He has the tools to be an NFL quarterback, and the Broncos believe that as well, obviously.

With Peyton Manning — the most experienced, oldest player on the roster — and Brock Osweiler, the Broncos have a 1-2 punch at the QB position that represents the present and future of the organization…we think.

Running Back — 4 (7/53)

CJ Anderson, Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson, Montee Ball

The Broncos kept Ball after some speculation of whether or not he would actually make the team or be traded. That decision doesn’t have to be final, but for now, Ball is on the team. Looking back at Gary Kubiak teams, it’s actually somewhat unlikely for the Broncos to have kept four running backs on the final roster.

Ball will be the fourth back for now, but as I predicted, the investment was simply too high to let him go at the final cut down. The team has sent its message, however, by placing Ball fourth on the depth chart after a poor preseason.

Wide Receiver — 6 (13/53)

Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer, Andre Caldwell, Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler

The Broncos correctly kept six receivers on the roster, including Jordan Norwood and Bennie Fowler who had great training camps/preseason performances. In fact, Fowler was probably the Broncos’ best offensive player this preseason in general.

The top guys at this position group were quite obvious, but some questioned whether or not Andre Caldwell would make the team. He scored more touchdowns than any Broncos player this preseaon.

Tight End/Fullback — 3 (16/53)

Owen Daniels, Virgil Green, James Casey (FB)

After all those tight ends they picked up this offseason, the Broncos wound up with just three guys on the final roster. That is likely to change, and probably sooner rather than later. For the time being, the Broncos have just these guys, and two of them are former Kubiak draft picks in Houston.

Owen Daniels is likely going to see the ball a lot this season, and I think James Casey will also play a big role in the Broncos’ offense as a fullback/h-back. That’s also a role that Virgil Green can play.

Offensive Line — 9 (25/53)

Ty Sambrailo (R), Evan Mathis, Matt Paradis, Louis Vasquez, Ryan Harris, Michael Schofield, Gino Gradkowski, Shelley Smith, Max Garcia (R)

There weren’t any surprises on the offensive line looking at this group. It was a bummer to see Ben Garland go, but the Broncos have a group here that could probably use an upgrade at the backup tackle position. Michael Schofield was picked over Chris Clark as the team’s swing tackle (thanks large in part to his being a 2014 third round pick) but he showed in the preseason that he cannot play the left side.

I wonder if Jake Long is still answering calls…

The Broncos could use a veteran upgrade here, and we could see that happen before the season starts.

Defensive Line — 6 (31/53)

Antonio Smith, Sylvester Williams, Malik Jackson, Vance Walker, Darius Kilgo (R), Kenny Anunike

The Broncos are apparently looking for another upgrade on the defensive line, but I’m interested to see what this group right here is capable of. The one thing it looks like they could use is someone who might specialize in stopping the run, but even then, I don’t know if that’s completely necessary.

With Derek Wolfe serving his suspension, this is a group that doesn’t have a ton of flash but has plenty of talent and explosiveness. I will be excited to see the combinations Wade Phillips uses up front with this group.

Edge Rusher — 5 (36/53)

Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray (R), Shaquil Barrett, Lerentee McCray

The one surprise in this group is Lerentee McCray, whom the coaches must have a ton of faith in. We haven’t seen anything from him all offseason.

The obvious excitement here is that the Broncos’ top four guys — Von, Ware, Ray, and Shaq — are all together and ready to wreak havoc. This group is amazing, even better if McCray is healthy.

Linebacker — 4 (40/53)

Brandon Marshall, Danny Trevathan, Todd Davis, Corey Nelson

After Todd Davis, Nelson — a former 7th round draft pick — was the highest rated Broncos linebacker (non-pass rushing) by Pro Football Focus. This group has no question marks or holes for me, honestly. Marshall, Trevathan, and Davis are all starters in the NFL and the Broncos are lucky to have them all together right now.

Cornerback — 6 (46/53)

Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib, Bradley Roby, Kayvon Webster, Lorenzo Doss (R), Curtis Marsh

Eagles fans aren’t going to be too fond of the move to keep Curtis Marsh on the active roster, and after his final pre-season game, they might have a point. The Broncos decided to keep him over Tony Carter, and we’ll see how it ultimately works out. He had some good moments in the preseason as well.

The former third round pick has talent, but has been slow to develop in his NFL career  thus far.

Safety — 4 (50/53)

Darian Stewart, David Bruton, Omar Bolden, Josh Bush

Josh Bush makes the final roster after T.J. Ward gets suspended, and he had a heck of a final preseason game. The Broncos will use a combination of guys here in Ward’s absence, and both Bruton and Bolden provide excellent special teams play.

Specialists — 3 (53/53)

Brandon McManus, Britton Colquitt, Aaron Brewer

No surprises here after Connor Barth was let go earlier in the preseason. The Broncos didn’t have any remaining competition at these spots with both Barth and Spencer Lanning having been released.

Next: Broncos should look at Joseph Fauria at TE