Thoughts on Denver Broncos rookie jersey number selections

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 11: Running back Phillip Lindsay #2 of the Denver Broncos runs into the end zone for a fourth quarter touchdownn against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on August 11, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 11: Running back Phillip Lindsay #2 of the Denver Broncos runs into the end zone for a fourth quarter touchdownn against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on August 11, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos handed out jersey numbers to a bunch of brand new rookies. Who got the best and who drew short straws?

We like to focus on all aspects of football as it relates to the Denver Broncos here at Predominantly Orange, including the importance of rookie jersey number selections.

The Denver Broncos are typically one of the last teams to officially announce rookie jersey numbers, and while it doesn’t really matter that we have to wait, it’s always fun to see and imagine these players in their new colors.

Also, if you’re one to purchase a rookie’s jersey before he plays, this is your chance to buy in early.

Here’s the official announcement from the Broncos:

Because as the saying goes if you look good you play good (well), we’re going to analyze these jersey number selections one by one, giving some thoughts on each guy with an emphasis on the draft choices and some key UDFAs.

There are some very important criteria for the judgment of these jersey selections.

1. How cool does it look?
2. History of the number
3. Good/bad karma with the jersey recently? (curse breaker?)
4. Longevity (is it a legacy-maker?)

You can write some other criteria there if you’d like. At this point in team history, there is not really a number that doesn’t have an established history, so that’s been taken into account.

The draft picks

Noah Fant – 87

When you think of the Denver Broncos and no. 87, Ed McCaffrey is the name that immediately comes to mind. McCaffrey wore 87 during the glory days in the late 90s and while he will always be synonymous with this number, some other notable Broncos have worn it since he retired.

Eric Decker was probably the best, though.

We’ve seen a lot of touchdowns scored by Broncos players wearing number 87, and a lot of big catches, too. My guess is Fant will have his fair share.

Considering this is his college number, it’s cool to see the transition happen seamlessly.

Dalton Risner – 66

Dalton Risner didn’t get the no. 71 he wore at Kansas State, but we’ll see what happens given some time, here.

Numbers in the 60s are not super marketable, to me. Just because Risner is a lineman doesn’t mean he won’t ultimately be a popular Bronco, but it would be tough to sell a 66 jersey.

One of the great Broncos offensive linemen of all-time — Tom Nalen — rocked the no. 66 and rocked it well.

We’ll see what happens when 53-man rosters are announced with Austin Schlottmann, the current no. 71, but I’m guessing Risner’s opening day number won’t be 66.

Drew Lock – 3

Through high school and college, Drew Lock wore the no. 3 on his jersey. It only made sense for him to rock it in the pros.

Lock had to get this number from punter Colby Wadman, and it seems the rookie QB already has some nice pull here. Did he have to give anything up to get 3 from Wadman?

That remains to be seen. Wadman flipped to no. 6 which belongs on a punter in Denver’s current uniform. I don’t like the way it looks.

No. 3 is fine for Lock. I get it. It’s his number, but I wouldn’t have minded 1 or 2.

Dre’Mont Jones – 93

Anytime a Broncos player gets a new number, my mind always races back to the players who had these jerseys in the 90s. Trevor Pryce wore 93 for the Broncos back in the day, but other than him, this number has been pretty untouched.

Jones picked a good one to start his own legacy with here. There’s not a ton of history with this jersey aside from Pryce, so I like this pick for the Ohio State lineman. All of the numbers in the 90s look cool on Denver’s uniform, in my opinion.

Justin Hollins – 52

Off the top of my head, two linebackers who wore 52 for noted linebacker savant Vic Fangio: Patrick Willis & Khalil Mack.

Willis is an inside linebacker and Mack is an edge player. Hollins is expected to do a little of both.

The pressure’s on. Plus, 52 looks really good in this current Broncos look. Let’s hope Hollins makes it look good.

Juwann Winfree – 15

From Marlon Briscoe to Brandon Marshall to Tim Tebow, the no. 15 has a special place in Broncos history. Since Tebow left, it has yet to find a true match.

Winfree really stood out to me in the limited footage we have available of him, and this jersey number looks really good on receivers, so I’m excited to see what he can do with it.

UDFAs/Other number assignments (in order)

1 Taylor Bertolet, K
2 Trinity Benson, WR
4 Brett Rypien, QB
6 Colby Wadman, P
16 Kelvin McKnight, WR
39 George Aston, FB
39 Trey Johnson, CB
48 Devontae Jackson, RB
49 Alijah Holder, CB
53 Joe Dineen, LB
54 Josh Watson, LB
56 Dekoda Watson, LB
59 Malik Reed, LB
63 Ryan Crozier, C
73 John Leglue, OT
75 Quinn Bailey, OT
79 Brian Wallace, OT
83 Romell Guerrier, WR
89 Austin Fort, TE
90 Billy Winn, DL
91 Jaylen Johnson, DL
94 Ahmad Gooden, DE


An obvious one to keep an eye on here is Brett Rypien, who got to keep his college no. 4. I think it’s pretty awesome that the quarterback room this year could be 3, 4, and 5 depending on what Kevin Hogan’s play has to say about it. Hogan wears no. 9.

Last year, Phillip Lindsay had to wear no. 2 because nothing in the 20s or 30s was available. He got 30 after final cuts last year.

Trinity Benson got a $10,000 bonus as a UDFA (which usually means at least practice squad) and has the speed, athleticism, and playmaking ability on offense and special teams to stick. He’s rocking no. 2 this offseason and I hope he makes a lot of plays in it. No. 2 was his number in college, so he’ll be right at home.

No. 48 is going to look absolutely humongous on the 5-7, 180-pound Devontae Jackson.

Shane Ray’s no. 56 has been officially replaced by Dekoda Watson. I thought we might see DeMarcus Walker switch numbers from 57 but he’s keeping that.

Keep an eye on no. 16 Kelvin McKnight. He’s got some make-you-miss ability in the open field.

Next. 53-man roster prediction post-draft. dark

Both rookie UDFA linebackers got numbers in the 50s, which is borderline unprecedented. Rookie linebackers almost always have to take numbers in the 40s or 60s, and unless you ball out anything in the 60s on a linebacker just looks stupid.

Dineen is going to look really good in 53, and Watson is going to look really nice in 54.