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Experienced at the 'right positions,' Broncos able to rely on rookies for boost

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —With the fifth-overall pick, the Broncos found a starter at outside linebacker in Bradley Chubb.

They nabbed another key player, Courtland Sutton, with the 40th-overall pick.

Another in Royce Freeman early in the third.  

The list goes on, as the Broncos had 10 rookies — eight of them draft picks — make their initial 2018 53-man roster.

President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway doesn't want his job to be nearly as easy during the 2019 NFL Draft.

In case you didn't think he was serious, Elway pounded the podium with his fist to emphasize every line during his media availability Saturday.

"I would tell you this."


"And you know this. I really don't want to pick fifth."


"Picking high in each round helps."


"I really hope we're not picking nearly that high next year."


"That's No. 1."

This year, though, picking that high should pay dividends.

Chubb, Sutton and Freeman are just a few of the players who should play key roles for the Broncos this season.

Isaac Yiadom, Josey Jewell, DaeSean Hamilton, Sam Jones and Keishawn Bierria could all make an impact early in the season. Phillip Lindsay, an undrafted running back, showed in the preseason he is also poised to contribute.

Alexander Johnson, a raw player with plenty of potential, rounds out the rookies who made the initial 53-man roster.

"I think our scouts did a tremendous job and [we] were able to put together a tremendous class this year," Elway said. "Again, they're rookies. So they've been through preseason and they're going to find out — when we get to next Sunday — that it's another big step up. They're going to have their growing pains, and we're going to have to rely on a lot of them. We're going to have to be patient, too, and realize it's going to take them a little bit of time."

And though the Broncos’ 53-man roster is nearly 20 percent built on players who have never played a regular-season snap, Elway isn't worried about the team's youth.

"No, you know why?" Elway said. "Because I think it's the best roster that we could put together. I think that's why I don't get nervous about it. I get excited when we have youth that played very well in the preseason and has contributed a lot. I get excited about that."

Head Coach Vance Joseph said he would need to be aware of his team's youth, but he's also not concerned. As he explained Saturday, not every position is created equal when it comes to slotting in a young player.

"Absolutely, but they're all qualified," Joseph said. "Again, [they're] good football players, and young's not bad, especially at the right positions. We're experienced at the right positions. O-line, we're experienced. At quarterback, we're experienced. On defense, we're experienced."

And in other spots, they're young.

Young enough to help the Broncos move forward.

"When you get younger, you get healthier and you get faster," Joseph said. "A young team can work in practice to get better each day. When you're an older team, it's tough to push those guys week out and week in because it's a long season. When you're young team, you do get healthier and you get faster.

"I'm pleased with our football [team], and exciting times are coming."

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