Training Camp 2018: Denver Broncos are improved

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: The Denver Broncos take the field before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 31, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: The Denver Broncos take the field before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 31, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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Case Keenum
Case Keenum /


We established the fact that Case Keenum signed with the Denver Broncos in our introduction.

The quarterback position has been the biggest weakness on this football team aside from the offensive line. The Broncos went through three quarterbacks in 2017.

Trevor Siemian started out with great success early but faltered badly in a majority of the games.

Paxton Lynch saw the field and continues to show signs of being in early development.

The Denver Broncos signed Brock Osweiler to be a backup, but he saw playing time because of injuries and poor play. One of the best camp battles is for the backup quarterback position.

2017 draft pick Chad Kelly, a first-round talent at quarterback with notable off-field issues fell to the seventh round. Kelly is finally healthy and will compete with Lynch for the number two slot.

Everything then pointed to Keenum coming to Denver. Keenum’s magical 2017 season puts the Broncos in a great situation to take a step in the right direction offensively. As pointed out earlier, Keenum’s arrival in Denver releases a great deal of stress on all parties collectively.

Let’s start first with the offensive line.

Aside from quarterback, the offensive line still needs to show growth. That said, there were some good takeaways from last season. Despite playing out of position, Ronald Leary did well at right guard, but an injury sidelined him late in the season.

Garett Bolles solidified left tackle, but rookie mistakes came along with too many penalties. With another year of football under Bolles’ belt, the expectation is he will be better this season. Also the addition of Jared Veldheer will make Bolles a better tackle.

Veldheer comes in via a trade to be the starting right tackle.

Connor McGovern will move into the spot once occupied by Ronald Leary. Both Leary and McGovern are your starting guards, but depth will be tested with Billy Turner and Menelik Watson.

Watson is a swing guard and tackle with the addition of Veldheer. The Denver Broncos offensive line is better than last season. Sam Jones and Austin Schlottman will challenge Billy Turner for a spot on the roster, along with Max Garcia.

The drafting of Royce Freeman begs the question of where is his final place will be on the depth chart.

Devontae Booker will possibly be primarily a third down back; however, there have been few indicators yet he can be elusive in the running game.

But, the Denver Broncos still have confidence in him.

If healthy, Booker would have been the starter over CJ Anderson in 2017.

De’Angelo Henderson and Phillip Lindsay are terrific young pieces to be third-down running backs or on particular sets. Henderson showed up in preseason as a playmaker, while Lindsay is the Swiss Army knife running back that can catch, run, and return kicks.

David Williams is the wild card in the mix that can catch on early in training camp.

Of all the running backs on the depth chart, there’s no player receiving the type of buzz Royce Freeman is. Freeman was a productive running back at Oregon. He packed in plenty of touchdowns and became a bonafide bell-cow back for Oregon.

The Broncos’ loss of Anderson certainly opens the door for a similar role for Freeman in Denver. Initially, Freeman could be given a “carry count” with the Broncos to keep him fresh, then let him loose when the time comes.

Wide receiver is the position group that improved most in the off-season.

Either in the draft or in free agency.

In free agency, the move making the wide receiver corps netter is simply the quarterback.

Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas will play with a quarterback that allows for them as weapons to make things happen all game long. The draft gave the Broncos players for the future and present. Both Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are two of the biggest candidates to contribute early.

Sutton is a big-bodied wideout capable of making tough catches look routine. Hamilton is likely to see more playing time in the slot.

Isaiah McKenzie offered his services here in pinches, but the slot most came from Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler. Latimer and Fowler are on different teams.

Kenny Bell and Tim Patrick remain fascinating players to watch during camp because of Carlos Henderson’s recent injury.

Patrick is the same height as Jordan Taylor. Bell is similar in skill set compared to Sanders or Hamilton, but nowhere near their ceiling.

Of all the groups on offense, this is the one that will produce the most in my eyes.

The optimism is there for the tight ends to be better heading into 2018.

It does hinge on one player though.

For the first time since the Orange Bowl in the 2016-17 college football season, Jake Butt is healthy after recovering from the ACL injury.

Butt is an underrated run blocker helping with the loss of Virgil Green. Butt’s ability to catch passes makes him trustworthy early with Keenum. Even the run after catch ability is underrated with Butt.

Jeff Heuerman is fascinating. There’s no better athlete in the group of receiving tight ends than Heuerman. Coaches can split him out wide to be a mismatch. However, there’s injury history and lack of production to go with it all.

New draft pick Troy Fumagalli is another interesting candidate to replace Virgil Green as a blocker, but underrated as a weapon in the passing game, too.

Austin Traylor and Brian Parker are the forgotten tight ends in the group that can impact a roster spot. Traylor has a chance to be number two, if we are being honest.

Offense is greatly improved and it starts with the quarterback.