ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- There's no position group less likely to be the target of a draft pick this year than special teams.
Oh, the Broncos will surely find multiple players who will work on the coverage and blocking teams for punts, kickoffs and returns, but they will be asked to complement the leaders already on hand -- particularly key veterans like
But at the specialists of the third phase, the Broncos appear to be in solid shape overall.
The last of the burning questions around the unit was answered by waiver pickup
That's phenomenal production, especially given that the Broncos had just eight return touchdowns in the previous 10 seasons combined. Even if Holliday doesn't contribute a snap on offense and even if his fumble ratio -- one every 9.6 returns, including playoffs -- remains the same, he will be valuable because of his absurd production rate.
For the Broncos, he scored once every 12 total returns and averaged 12.5 yards per punt return and 36.9 yards per kickoff return (including playoffs). If that production continues, he will have a long, bright future in Denver.
But to maximize the potential of the unit, the Broncos need kicker
Although Prater remained among the league's pace-setters on kickoffs, his field-goal percentage of 81.3 percent ranked 25th among kickers with at least 15 attempts, and he was 27th in accuracy outside 40 yards, going 8 of 13 (61.5 percent).
The ability of Prater to deliver a last-gasp kick was established in 2011, and the Broncos wouldn't have made the playoffs that year without his flawless overtime work in wins over Miami, San Diego and Chicago, which included three game-tying or game-winning field goals from 50 or more yards. Those kicks demonstrate Prater's ceiling; if he finds more consistency, then the Broncos can legitimately claim to possess the league's best special teams.