How the Broncos’ Offseason Affects the Immediate Future
As one of the younger teams in the NFL Denver still seemed to be in position to add some firepower with some really good draft stock and cap space to work with. Drew Lock flashed more than enough to give him the season to prove his worth, so it looked like Denver was going to put the offense in a position to succeed with or without him. They successfully did that and got younger, but when does upside become wins? How much can we expect out of this new look Broncos right away?
Well.. Nothing is a Lock Right Away
Drew Lock is the future of the Broncos. For at least one season. An impressive five games gave us a look, but Lock was still a rookie and looked like one between impressive flashes. What we did see however is that with competent QB play, the Broncos were a whole new team. The OL improved, Courtland Sutton continued to flourish, and the defense’s job became easier. There’s reason for optimism, but even with a good defense and reloaded offense, the Broncos immediate success lies solely on the performance of their sophomore QB.
Re-Up the Defense
Nothing too crazy was added to the Broncos defense. A pair of development defenders in speedster CB Michael Ojemudia out of Iowa, and an athletic lineman in Arkansas’s MeTelvin Agim. Both high upside with likely rotational roles.
The Broncos did lose former All-Pro Chris Harris Jr and replaced him with former Texan and Jaguar AJ Bouye. Considering age this is likely a lateral move, if not a minor downgrade. Depth was lost and largely replaced.
However, when Denver lost their homegrown talent in DL Derek Wolfe they struck gold by cheaply trading for Titans DL Jurrell Casey, an under-rated talent that confused Titans fans by the cost it took to move him. With the largest addition may simply be the return of EDGE Bradley Chubb from injury, it appears Denver has slightly but surely improved the defense.
A slow start with the transition to the Fangio scheme, we should expect a defense that’s fairly better than last years. A thin secondary and lack of speed at LB may hurt, but there’s more than enough starting talent to assume this will be a good unit.
Overload the Offense
Offensive line the Broncos once again slightly upgraded, swapping out Connor McGovern for Graham Glasglow. An injury-plagued Ron Leary will be replaced by mid and late round draftees Lloyd Cushenberry and Netane Muti. Immediately the return of RT Ja’Wuan James should be the most beneficial, but a young player will have to step up on the interior. While the OL is likely to be a weak spot there should be a surprisingly solid floor here with the offense’s oldest group, but the ceiling remains rather low as this is very unlikely to be a unit that will become elite or even very good.
Then there’s the weapons and oh man.. did they add weapons. WR Jerry Jeudy was commonly considered to be one of the best route-runners in recent history among prospects and added a much needed speed element opposite of Courtland Sutton. He was the perfect Robin to Suttons Batman, but that didn’t stop Denver from adding yet another speedster in the 2nd round in KJ Hamler. While Jeudy adds separation with very good speed and route nuance, Hamler is a true speed demon with obnoxious foot speed.
The Broncos needed speed on offense and they got that and then some. These rookies have been put in a perfect position to succeed drawing weaker coverage while their X takes the tough assignments, and 2nd-year TE Noah Fant looks to draw attention in the middle of the field.
However, it may be Melvin Gordon who adds the biggest impact in the vital 3rd-down RB role that Denver has lacked for some time. He offers an immediate upgrade to Royce Freeman as the thunder to Philip Lindsay’s lightning, and while they’re comparable as runners Gordon is times ahead of Lindsay as a receiver and pass protector. He may be a bit expensive for such a role, but it’s one that’s been massively upgraded.
The Broncos offense has been overpowered at pretty much every weapon. A Z and Y receiver with serious speed and a true 3rd down back with a proven X and high upside TE. While we can expect Gordon to be productive early, the immediate contribution from Jeudy and Hamler is up in the air. There’s plenty of reason to believe they should see success early, but rookie wideouts with a 2nd year QB with only five career games alludes to a floor that’s lower than you may think. What they did do was blow the roof off of the ceiling.