The first preseason game is coming up Thursday night and with it will give us the first look at the Denver Broncos initial depth chart in action. So before the Broncos take the field for the first time this year, I've put together a 53-man roster prediction, which features some major changes from my last one.
Starter: Mark Sanchez
Backup: Trevor Siemian
Third String: Paxton Lynch
Despite some surging from Siemian, Sanchez currently remains the starter. In-game performance will be a huge test for Siemian. In training camp so far, Sanchez has had plenty of struggles, but he has also taken a lot more risks than Siemian.
The second-year quarterback has been playing it safe in camp, taking a lot of easy throws and check downs, instead of challenging down the field. However, he has taken more chances of late in practice and even came away with a really impressive showing at Saturday's practice.
If Siemian shows he can let it rip, with consistency, and is willing to take smart risks, he could leap-frog Sanchez on the depth chart. Sitting behind those two is Paxton Lynch, who has had a few really impressive days in camp.
He has closed the gap between himself and the other two quarterbacks, but it’ll take Siemian and Sanchez throwing it away for Lynch to end up the starter by September 8th. However, that doesn’t mean Lynch won’t end up as the starter at some point during the season.
Starter: C.J. Anderson
Backup: Devontae Booker
Third String: Kapri Bibbs
The Broncos keep only three running backs. Anderson, of course, is the starter and Booker the backup, which hasn't changed from my previous prediction. The change comes with the No. 3 back. It was Ronnie Hillman, but injuries have dropped him some.
If you add in Bibbs' performance, which has been really impressive, Hillman is doubtful to make the roster. The issue for Bibbs in the past has been pass protection and special teams, and so far in camp those two things are no longer glaring for Bibbs. That puts him on the roster over the currently injured veteran Hillman.
Starter: Andy Janovich
The Broncos drafted Janovich for his ability as a fullback and on special teams. He has been playing really well in practice and as the only true fullback on the roster, he is basically a lock to make the squad.
Starter: Demaryius Thomas
Starter: Emmanuel Sanders
The first real changes from my previous roster predictions start here at receiver. Thomas and Sanders have both been having amazing camps, and of course no change there. In my last prediction, Jordan Norwood was the No. 3 receiver, now it is Bennie Fowler who has been outstanding so far.
Latimer and Taylor are really standing out, so they take the No. 4 and 5 spot, respectively. To round out the group, and serve as special teams returner, the Broncos keep Raymond, which pushes Norwood off of the roster.
Raymond has been a lot better offensively than Norwood, which helps cover the gap of being slightly less effective as a returner than Norwood. This is a battle to keep an eye on, especially when the games start, but right now it is hard to not see Raymond claiming victory.
Starter: Virgil Green
Not much change here, except the order at the top. With how Green has been impressing as a receiver, he steals the No. 1 spot from Heuerman. Graham and HKC both round out a group that has a lot of potential.
LT Starter: Russell Okung
LG Starter: Max Garcia
C Starter: Matt Paradis
RG Starter: Connor McGovern
RT Starter: Donald Stephenson
A few big changes here from the last prediction. Only one new starter in McGovern over Sambrailo at right guard. Schofield has looked really good at tackle and guard, but still has made some mistakes.
He is looking like someone they want to be able to play anywhere but center, and a recent Gary Kubiak comment cements that idea. Sambrailo has been hurt, but when he returns he could go back to competing for a spot on the right side, either at tackle or guard.
Ferentz is the only backup center. To round out the group is Darrion Weems, who has seen time at guard and tackle, and been really impressive at both. So instead of eight offensive linemen like in my last prediction, I have Denver keeping nine of them this time.
That is partially due to so many of them getting banged up already. Five of the nine I have making it are dealing with an injury.
LDE Starter: Derek Wolfe
NT Starter: Sylvester Williams
RDE Starter: Vance Walker
Some big changes from last time on the defensive line. Phil Taylor injured his knee and landed on injured reserve, opening the door for Darius Kilgo, who I didn’t even have making it last time.
I also have the player they brought in after putting Taylor on injured reserve making the squad in Billy Winn. Wolfe, Williams, Walker, Gotsis and Crick all remain as original picks to make the squad. I also have nine players now making it on the D-line instead of just eight.
Starter: Von Miller
Starter: Shaquil Barrett
No changes at outside linebacker. Miller and Barrett remain the de facto starters, with Ware and Ray as the backups. Sadat Sulleyman and Eddie Yarbrough have been impressive and could land on the roster, if the Broncos choose to keep a fifth outside linebacker.
Starter: Brandon Marshall
Starter: Todd Davis
Another position group with no change at all. All four members remain in the same spots as they did in my last prediction.
LCB Starter: Aqib Talib
RCB Starter: Chris Harris, Jr.
No changes among the corners. Webster has all but locked up the fourth spot and Doss continues to separate himself from the other corners. The preseason could cause some changes on the bottom end.
SS Starter: T.J. Ward
FS Starter: Darian Stewart
Due to keeping a couple extra players for the trenches, the safeties get cut down to only four players. Simmons has that No. 3 spot on lockdown and behind him is Keo, who is closing the gap between Brandian Ross.
Kicker: Brandon McManus
Punter: Riley Dixon
Long Snapper: Casey Kreiter
Only battle here is at punter, between Dixon and Britton Colquitt. Colquitt has been more consistent, but costs a lot more. Dixon is cheaper, and has a stronger leg but isn’t quite as consistent.
Safety Will Parks
Center Dillon Day
Cornerback Taurean Nixon
Defensive Linemen Kyle Peko
Linebacker Sadat Sulleyman
Linebacker Eddie Yarbrough
Guard Robert Myers
Tackle Kyle Roberts
Receiver Mose Frazier
Tackle Cameron Jefferson
Without having seen a game, the practice squad is an even bigger crap shoot. However, all of these guys have been talked about a fair amount so far in training camp. Denver fills up on promising young guys.
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