2016 Broncos Season -- Position Battles, pt. 1
Organized Team Activities have begun, so the football season is close behind! We're months from the pre-season and more than 90 days from regular season football, but that doesn't mean we can't start thinking about position battles.
Over the next two days I'm going to look at Broncos position battles -- or questions -- starting today with the offense.
Candidates: Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch
Situation: Big news from Broncos camp this week is that Siemian, the second year player out of Northwestern, is getting a real shot to be the Broncos' starting quarterback. I won't say I don't believe it, because it's probably somewhat accurate, but I don't buy him as the starter in Denver. I think he could be more like a Gary Kubiak -- a quality backup throughout his career. Plus you don't invest a first round pick in a quarterback and trade for a veteran if you think you've already got "the guy" on your roster.
Prediction: I have said it for months and I'm sticking to it, I think Mark Sanchez is the starter during the 2016 season for the Broncos. And I think he leads them back to the playoffs.
Candidates: CJ Anderson, Devontae Booker, and Ronnie Hillman
Situation: The Broncos waited until the last possible minute to match the Miami Dolphins lucrative offer to CJ Anderson. Anderson looked like a bell cow back at the end of the season and in the playoffs. And with that deal, you'd assume that that he's going to be the lead dog. Then the Broncos agreed to bring back Hillman on a one year deal, which was surprising, and then drafted Booker, a talented running back out of Utah that many pundits think is their most talented back. So who is the lead back, or is it running back by committee?
Prediction: I think this is Anderson's job to lose, and I don't think he'll lose it. If he is injured or stumbles, I think Booker becomes "the guy." Either way, Hillman is a change of pace back that is with the Broncos only one more season.
Candidates: Jordan Norwood, Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer and Jordan Taylor
Situation: Norwood has the edge here because he's done it before and the Broncos re-signed him. Fowler showed great flashes last year. Latimer was a high draft choice in '14 that has fizzled on the field in two seasons. Then there's Taylor, the wild card. He's on this list because Peyton Manning raved about him and the work they did together as he rehabbed. So who has the edge here?
Prediction: If Latimer is ever going to develop, this has to be the year. But I don't think it happens. I think he remains the sixth receiver if he makes the team. I think Norwood and Fowler are the first off the bench, with Norwood returning kicks and punts, too. And I think Taylor makes some contributions. At the end of the year, I think Fowler is the No. 3 receiver for the Broncos.
Candidates: Jeff Heuerman, Virgil Green, and Garrett Graham
Situation: Many were surprised when the Broncos cut Owen Daniels and let Vernon Davis walk. How could the team move forward without a tight end? The answer is they already have one. The Broncos love Heuerman, and he might have won the job last season if he didn't get hurt in pre-season. The expectation is he's back in a big way this year. Meanwhile Green thinks he can be the guy, and Graham was added for veteran depth.
Prediction: I think Green remains primarily a blocking tight end and Heuerman not only becomes the pass catcher, but excels. He's a sleeper candidate for me in fantasy football.
Situation: The Broncos have only one returning starter, center Matt Paradis. Outside of that, there's more questions than answers. Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson joined via free agency, Ty Sambraillo is getting healthy and Max Garcia is developing, while the Broncos added Connor McGovern in the draft. Then there's always Michael Schofield lurking.
Prediction: I think the starting five is: LT Okung, LG Sambraillo, C Paradis, RG Garcia, RT Stephenson.