Schedule: TEN, @PIT, TB, @NYJ, @NE, MIA, KC, BYE, @ATL, @LVR, LAC, NO, @KC, @CAR, BUF, @LAC, LVR
Additions: DL Jurrell Casey (Trade), CB A.J. Buoye (Trade), OL Graham Glasgow (FA), RB Melvin Gordon (FA), TE Nick Vannett (FA), OL Demar Dotson, P Sam Martin (FA), WR Jerry Jeudy (Draft), WR K.J. Hamler (Draft), OL Lloyd Cushenberry (Draft)
Losses: OL Connor McGovern (FA), CB Chris Harris (FA), DL Derek Wolfe (FA), S Will Parks (FA), DL Adam Gotsis (FA), LS Casey Kreiter (FA), FB Andy Janovich (Trade), OL Ja’Wuan James (Opt-out)
Denver is an interesting team. Just looking at the depth chart, this looks like one of the best teams in the league. So did the 2019 Browns, though. There’s a lot of similarities between these two teams. Just like Cleveland in 2018, the Broncos ended last year on a hot streak, with four wins in their last five games. Hyped up all offseason, the Browns finished a lowly 6-10. Now, the Broncos’ hype train hasn’t gotten nearly as out of control and I still expect this team to take a step forward. The playoffs just might have to wait a year.
Another glaring similarity between the two teams is at quarterback, only Drew Lock is even less proven than Baker Mayfield was at this time last year. While Lock showed great potential as a rookie, so did Mayfield, and in a larger sample size. Don’t be shocked if he has a sophomore slump.
Lock has similarly intriguing, though less established, weapons at his disposal as Mayfield’s. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are up there with Cleveland for the best running back duo in the league.
Rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler join Courtland Sutton in what should be a fun receiver room for years to come. Add in the explosive Noah Fant at tight end and we could see fireworks.
Another thing Denver has going is Mike Munchak. You know that guy is going to drain every drop of potential out of the offensive line. He has some interesting pieces to work with, too. Left tackle Garett Bolles graded well at PFF, but hasn’t been able to shake his penalty issues. The other bookend is less certain with Ja’Wuan James opting out. Just as he did when James was hurt last year, Elijah Wilkinson will fill in. He’ll have a short least, though, with recent signee Demar Dotson breathing down his neck. The interior is talented, even with a rookie starting at center. Munchak should lead this group to fringe-top-10 status.
Comparisons to the 2015 unit are delusional, but this defense looks great on paper. After a slight down year, they should be much better. Bradley Chubb returns after missing most of last season. After a few weeks to shake off the rust, he and Von Miller—who’s coming off a disappointing season of his own—should return to being one of the most fearsome edge duos in the league. Adding Jurrell Casey to the d-line will buff up the pass rush, too. The linebackers are dealing with injuries, but when healthy, Alexander Johnson and Todd Davis are a nice duo inside. As a whole, the front seven is stout.
In the secondary, A.J. Bouye has an excellent opportunity to return to form now that he’s out of Jacksonville. Bryce Callahan will start opposite him after missing all of last season. That’s a solid corner duo with good potential. Whoever joins them in nickel looks will be a little dicier. At safety, Justin Simmons is a budding star while Kareem Jackson is a great veteran next to him.
I like everything about this roster. There are some worries, though. Vic Fangio got the standard free first season for a head coach. In year two, both his and the team’s performance will be more scrutinized. Lock is promising, but he’s played just five career games. Untested youth is abundant on the Broncos’ offense. And for as great as the defense looks, there are lots of aging vets or players with injury concerns. With a decent schedule, I expect Denver to take its lumps and come back next year as a team to truly watch out for.
What’s your record prediction for the Broncos? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.