There is a lot of talent on the Denver Broncos roster, and a lot of competition for spots going into this season. When you have competition, even for the low spots on the depth chart, it makes mini-camp and training camp even more exciting.
Of course, a battle for the starting spot — no matter the position — is what fans really like to watch. It just so happens that this year the Broncos have a competition from top to bottom at the biggest position of them all — quarterback. That is where the evaluations and predictions begin.
Everyone is aware of the battle between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch for the starting position, and it will be hard fought by both parties. Denver is happy with how Siemian is coming along with his shoulder rehab, but they are also happy with the progression Lynch has made and how the former first-rounder fits the current offense better than the previous iteration.
There is also a battle for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Due to injuries, Chad Kelly will be behind the curve compared to Kyle Sloter. These are two quarterbacks Denver really liked and Mr. Irrelevant came down to these two young players.
Jim Kelly's importuning of GM John Elway — on behalf of his nephew — made all the difference. The quarterback position as a whole is going to be a fun battle to watch.
Depth Chart Prediction: Lynch, Siemian, Sloter.
Chad Kelly lands on IR for the season.
In a newfound focus on improving the run game, the Broncos went out and added a couple running backs. They drafted De’Angelo Henderson in the sixth round and then signed a running back Broncos fans are very familiar with in former Kansas City Chiefs star Jamaal Charles.
The Broncos do have some serious injury concerns with Anderson and Charles, which likely leads them to keep four running backs, and one fullback. There seems to be a clear pecking order for the Broncos that is set, unless they move one of them to another team.
Depth Chart Prediction: Charles, Anderson, Henderson, Booker with Janovich at fullback.
This means an end for a longtime fan favorite Juwan Thompson, and Bernard Pierce.
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There are some obvious names set to make the roster for the Broncos receiving corps — Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and rookie third-rounder Carlos Henderson, which takes up three of the five spots for receiver. A sixth spot is reserved for the returner.
The other one or two spots will be a battle between Jordan Taylor, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer. Taylor brings more value on offense, and a talent that he is just tapping into.
Fowler is a curious case and they may want to see if he returns to the player he was in 2015. Latimer is a special teams gunner, and a stud one at that, but offers little value on offense any more.
The other receivers are longshots to make it, but if they show up better than Taylor, Latimer or Fowler, they very well could get a look. However, they are probably all fighting for a practice squad spot, except for Isaiah McKenzie and Kalif Raymond. These are Denver’s two returner options and they will compete for the kick return position.
Depth Chart Prediction: Thomas, Sanders, Henderson, Taylor. McKenzie wins return job.
This means the end for Fowler, Latimer, Raymond, Sharpe, Nash and Brown. Some are still practice squad eligible.
The Broncos wanted to upgrade their tight end position, so they went and drafted Jake Butt, who was a top tight end in the class before getting hurt. Internally they have high hopes for A.J. Derby.
After those two, it’s an open competition. Virgil Green isn’t guaranteed a roster spot and the Broncos have been trying to move him. Krieger-Coble showed a lot last preseason, and will have to do so again.
Jeff Heuerman will have to stay healthy and show what he can bring, because this may be his last shot. As for Lang, Scheu and Traylor the team likes them, but they are likely fighting for the practice squad. Lang is also seeing work at tackle.
Depth Chart Prediction: Derby, Butt, Krieger-Coble.
Green gets moved in a trade, and Heuerman just doesn’t show enough, but could land on the practice squad. Lang, Sheu and Traylor are just at the practice squad level right now.
The Broncos offensive line wasn’t the best unit last year and struggled mightily, especially in the run game. They are going for a new look with a new scheme and are going to be trying to work their players into the system.
They also have a lot of positional versatility with their offensive linemen. Garett Bolles and Menelik Watson are expected to start at tackle, with Ty Sambrailo and Donald Stephenson as their backups, who also provide value at guard as well.
Murray and Hunt have an uphill battle ahead of them, but are looking more for a practice squad spot.
Depth Chart Prediction: Bolles, Watson, Stephenson.
Broncos give up on former second round pick Sambrailo. Hunt and Murray fight for the practice squad.
Denver deemed they needed a veteran upgrade at guard, so they went and got Ron Leary who will start opposite of Max Garcia. There is a battle behind them with Connor McGovern, Michael Schofield and Billy Turner fighting for two positions, with Turner and Schofield offering position versatility as well.
Undrafted rookie Erik Austell provides that versatility, and there’s been talk of looking at him at center as well as guard and tackle.
Depth Chart Prediction: Leary, Garcia, Schofield. McGovern finds himself on the roster as a center/guard.
Austell is looking at the practice squad and Turner is out the door.
The center position is where Denver had some consistency last year, and it was the only good spot on their O-line. Matt Paradis is cemented as the starter, but Dillon Day and James Ferentz will battle it out for the backup spot.
The previously mentioned Erik Austell, if given a shot at center, is a possibility as well. Ferentz beat out Day last year, with Day having an awful preseason. Again, Ferentz likely beats out Day. There could be a surprise with Connor McGovern as the Broncos are looking at him at center, as well as guard.
Depth Chart Prediction: Paradis, McGovern.
Ferentz and Day are done in Denver.
Erick Trickel is the Senior Draft Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ErickTrickel.