The Denver Broncos roster was one of the oldest last year, but now their roster sits on the younger side after an infusion of youth. Most of that youth came in the form of rookies, some of whom have not seen the field for the Broncos. Others are seeing serious time, even starting. So, with that, let us take a look at how the Broncos rookies have been performing.
In the first three games of the season, first round pick CB Bradley Roby has been very up and down, which you expect from a rookie, cornerbacks especially. It is rare that a rookie cornerback steps in day one with a major impact. Most of Roby’s time on the field comes in nickel packages, when there are three cornerbacks on the field. Roby is playing great for a rookie. His addition to the team helped make the secondary better than it was a year ago.
The next draft pick, WR Cody Latimer, has yet to see time on the field this season. He was active for one game, then inactive for the last two. He is a big physical threat, but the Broncos are carrying six wide receivers on the roster, meaning it is unlikely that all six are gameday actives. When it comes down to it, Latimer is the odd man out. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Wes Welker are the top three and won’t be inactive, unless injured. Then you have Andre Caldwell and Isaiah Burse, who are the main kick returner and punt returner.
Third round pick, OT Michael Schofield, has not seen time on the field during the season. He is a reserve tackle, far down the pecking order. He has the two starters, Ryan Clady, and Chris Clark, ahead of him. Paul Cornick is the primary backup tackle. Schofield struggled in the preseason, so unless an injury occurs, he will likely be inactive all season.
The next draft pick, LB Lamin Barrow, has mainly been used on special teams. He has seen the field on the defensive side of the ball, but not often. On special teams, he does well: he knows what he is supposed to do, and executes. It is unlikely he will see much time on defense unless multiple injuries occur.
C Matt Paradis is the only drafted rookie to not make the regular season 53-man roster. He is sitting on the practice squad. Unless an injury occurs to one of the Broncos centers, that is unlikely to change.
The final draft pick is in the same boat as Barrow. LB Corey Nelson sees his time on the field on special teams, where his speed is a huge boost. He also has seen some time on defense: two snaps. Like Barrow, this is unlikely to change unless multiple injuries occur to the Broncos linebacker corps.
That does it for the Broncos drafted rookies. However, they have some undrafted rookies on the roster as well. The Broncos main punt returner, WR Isaiah Burse, is one of those undrafted rookies. He doesn’t see time on offense, due to a crowded WR corps. He managed to make a case during training camp and preseason to be kept on as the punt returner. So far, he has done a better job than who the Broncos had last year, Trindon Holliday.
The last rookie they have on the roster is Juwan Thompson. He is a fan favorite for the Broncos, after bursting onto the scene during the preseason. He has seen two offensive snaps all season; both came as a fullback. Mostly, he is used on special teams. In college at Duke, he played a lot of special teams and even linebacker, which is a major bonus to him making this Broncos roster.
That does it for rookies on the Broncos 53-man roster. They do still have some who have joined Matt Paradis on the practice squad. Bennie Fowler, Shaquil Barrett, and Kapri Bibbs spent their offseason, training camp, and preseason with the Broncos, but were part of the final cuts. They ended up clearing waivers and being signed to the practice squad. Then there is Zach Thompson, a rookie from Wake Forest, who joined the Broncos practice squad, after spending some time elsewhere with the New York Jets.
The last three rookies who are part of the team are Greg Latta, Chase Vaughn and Kenny Anunike. All three are on the Broncos injured reserve.
It is rare for rookies to make an impact their first year in the league. That is especially true with a team as talented as the Broncos are. Normally, you see the impact entering their second or third year. There is a lot of talent in this group of rookies for the Broncos, but only time will tell if they realize that potentialand become some of the better players in the NFL.