State of the 2016 Denver Broncos: Inside Linebackers

Mile High Huddle brings you State of the Broncos—a position by position evaluation of the roster. Today's edition focuses on the inside linebackers. Analyst Khalid Alshami breaks it down.

The 2015 Denver Broncos boasted arguably the greatest defense to ever grace an NFL field. That defense returns nine-of-eleven starters in 2016. Head coach Gary Kubiak will be looking to replace inside linebacker Danny Trevathan in the starting lineup this season, and that starts with Brandon Marshall shifting from the strongside to the weakside, filling Trevathan's position.

This opens a hole on the strongside, one that the Broncos will be looking to training camp to fill. The team did not add any players at the position through free agency or the draft and appear to be very happy with the depth they have at the position.

Projected Depth Chart

Weakside Inside Linebacker: Brandon MarshallZaire Anderson

Strongside Inside Linebacker: Todd DavisCorey Nelson

Todd Davis is set to take the jump that Marshall and Trevathan before him made. Since John Elway rejoined the franchise in the front office, the Broncos have been a factory of quality linebackers. Davis is the next in line to join the ranks as a starter for the team. In 2015, he was the top backup at the position, starting two games due to injury. Davis also started another two games in 2014 after the team signed him away from the New Orleans Saints

Along with Davis will be Corey Nelson and Zaire Anderson fighting for the open linebacker job. Of the three, Davis has a leg up, but Nelson should not be counted out. A special teams ace, Nelson beat out former fifth round pick Lamin Barrow in 2015 to secure his spot on the roster.

The dark horse is Anderson, who spent 2015 on the Broncos practice squad. Through out the season, Anderson continued making plays in practice, not unlike Marshall when he was a member of the practice squad. Anderson will make the final roster and push to start in 2016.

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The Broncos signed veteran Dekoda Watson, who has experience both inside and outside. Watson will push the bottom of the depth chart, serving as a veteran failsafe and special teamer. With the departure of safety David Bruton, the Broncos are in need of a new special teams ace. But there's no guarantee Watson will win a roster spot. 

Free Agent Options

There are a few free agents available who would be intriguing for the Broncos, although the team is happy with their depth and is unlikely to add a veteran at the position. DeMeco Ryans and Donald Butler both remained unsigned.

Of the two, Ryans would be most likely to sign with the team. Ryans was the second draft pick of Gary Kubiak after he became the Houston Texans head coach and also spent a season with Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator.

If the team is unhappy with the battle at SILB or one of the top players suffers an injury, it wouldn't surprise me to see the team kick the tires on Ryans, who is an excellent leader and hasn't yet exhausted all he has left in the tank.

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Khalid Alshami is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @KhalidHAlshami. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

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