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Three questions to emerge in the wake of the Broncos' draft

Posted May 1, 2017

The depth chart looks different at some positions, including tight end and running back. What could be the impact at those spots?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The NFL Draft answers questions -- but it also creates them, as each team's roster complexion looks different than it did prior to the three-day, seven-round event.

Head Coach Vance Joseph and Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway addressed a few of these after the draft concluded Saturday.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AT TIGHT END?

The arrival of fifth-round pick Jake Butt alters the outlook for the position group.

The Broncos came into the offseason with a collection of players with divergent skill sets. A.J. Derby and Henry Krieger-Coble are stronger pass catchers who project more as 'F' tight ends who align themselves away from the tackle. Virgil Green is a classic 'Y' tight end who does his best work working from the inside next to the tackle. Third-year veteran Jeff Heuerman can handle both roles, but also must avoid the injuries that have sidetracked his first two seasons.

Once Butt completes his rehabilitation from a torn ACL, he should be able to work in both the 'F' and 'Y' roles, something Joseph confirmed Saturday night. His performance at Michigan made him a potential first- or second-round pick if he had not suffered his injury last December.

At the minimum, Butt should push everyone in the tight ends room. But if he stays healthy, he has the potential to gain extensive playing time.

"[For] all of those tight ends, again, as Vance has reiterated several times, it's about the competition," Elway said. "Everyone who's going to make the team, they make the team. No one else makes it for them. They've got to go make the team themselves, so that's why it's up to them.

"Knowing Jeff and knowing those tight ends, they're going to come out and compete and do the best they can. Hopefully it's a situation where everybody gets better because of that."

HOW ABOUT RUNNING BACK?

The selection of De'Angelo Henderson in the sixth round provided a player-for-player replacement for Kapri Bibbs, who was dealt to the 49ers in a trade earlier in the day.

Henderson has similar strengths to incumbent C.J. Anderson, although he is 15 pounds lighter.

"Yeah, he is similar," Elway said. "He’s 205 pounds, 206 pounds, but ran a 4.4, 4.45, something like that. He’s an explosive young guy that we thought could help us coming out of the backfield. It was a good opportunity."

Joseph said that one reason the Broncos added the Coastal Carolina product was to bolster their complement of inside targets to capitalize off the attention given to Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas on the edge. Henderson is part of that solution, along with third-round pick Carlos Henderson and fifth-round choice Isaiah McKenzie.

"We've got those two guys outside [Thomas and Sanders] and most teams are going to play in bracket or shell coverage, so you have to have guys inside to attack linebackers and attack the slot players," Joseph explained. "That was accomplished with Carlos and De'Angelo and Isaiah McKenzie."

Elway added that the Broncos will likely add another running back from the college free-agent ranks.

WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR?

It's never too early to look ahead, especially since the Broncos picked up a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft from the 49ers in the Bibbs trade.

The free-agent departure of Russell Okung could give the Broncos a compensatory third-round pick, according to OvertheCap.com. If the Broncos receive that, they could have six of the first 140 picks in next year's draft, or one choice every 23.3 selections.