Charting development of Broncos' 2018 draft class — "They are our headliners right now" (Kyle Fredrickson, Denver Post)
Of the Broncos' 10 selections back in April, four now have starting experience — linebacker Bradley Chubb, wide receiver Courtland Sutton, running back Royce Freeman and linebacker Josey Jewell — while just one pick, seventh-round running back David Williams, is no longer on the roster. And, the jury is still out on fifth-round tight end Troy Fumagalli, sidelined on injured reserve since September with a groin injury.
The Broncos overall rookie success is no fluke based on a 3-6 record, either. Several first-year players, including undrafted running back Phillip Lindsay, have carved their niche as the foundation of Denver's long-term plans.
"They are our guys right now. We've got seven or eight rookies in major, major roles," coach Vance Joseph said. "If they play good, we win, so it's not a balancing act. They are playing. They are our headliners right now. They've got to play well. They have no choice."
Ed McCaffrey found his calling at Valor Christian, coaching and mentoring with a staff of NFL veterans (Daniel Kramer, Denver Post)
McCaffrey, the three-time Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, is about to embark on the Colorado 5A playoffs at the tradition-rich powerhouse. Within the confines of his cramped new quarters, the selfprofessed "football junkie" scouted Valor's prospective opponents during the Eagles' first-round bye, which was earned by being the 24-team tournament's No. 1 seed.
The Eagles take on No. 16 Regis Jesuit at home Friday in the second round.
"I'm learning," McCaffrey said. "I'm by no means an expert at coaching high school football. I'm doing the best I can in Year 1. But I've already learned a lot of lessons and I imagine I'll keep learning them."
"I love it," Davis said. "It's on us to play well and it's on us to set the tempo and be great for our team. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Marshall said linebackers ultimately benefit from the ever-increasing challenges brought on by the RPO trend, faster rushers, bigger tight ends and plucky receivers.
"It's made me a better player," Marshall said. "It's also made me more valuable."
"I think that's why teams put a premium on athletic 'backers," Marshall said. "Because we have to be out there to cover the Kelces and the Gronks and the Dion Lewises and the James Whites of the world. And then we've got to be able to tackle (Todd) Gurley. That's just how it is."