ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos' initial depth chart is just that: a starting place.
Head Coach Vance Joseph made that quite clear when he met the media Tuesday following the league-mandated release of a team depth chart.
"For us, it’s a starting point," Joseph said. "It means nothing right now. We’ve had one scrimmage and seven practices, so we’ll get through preseason and see where we stand with the depth chart. It’s going to change probably 50 more times, hopefully. We don’t want to stay where we are. We’ve got major competition at a lot of areas here, so it should change some.”
But while the depth chart may "mean nothing," that doesn't mean players were placed without any thought. Joseph and his coaching staff collaborated with President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and his staff to piece together the initial depth chart.
"Nothing is set in stone, but we did make some moves that are obviously noticeable," Joseph said.
That starts with rookie outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, who earned a starting job at SAM linebacker.
“Yeah, we’ve been pleased with him," Joseph said. "Not just with his physical abilities, but his football IQ. He’s so smart and he’s walked in and done a good job for us in the pass game, the run game, with the pressure. He’s earned that right, right now.”
Chubb is one of six draft picks who found themselves on the two-deep. And while that may seem like a lot of players who are just a snap away from playing football, Joseph said Tuesday it's yet another reflection of how this rookie class has proven itself.
“I’ve been very impressed," Joseph said. "Again, it’s a very mature class and they’ve been really good in the classroom. That’s important when you’re talking about pro football. It’s a lot of volume and it’s a complicated game. Those guys have learned quickly as far as the football IQ part of it.”
Running back Royce Freeman is one of those players listed on the two-deep, but Joseph emphasized the order could change several times en route to the season opener.
“It’s very fluid," Joseph said. "Again, it may change four or five times, but right now we’ve got [RB Devontae] Book [Booker] as the lead guy. He’s earned that right as the most experienced guy. That punt returner is Isaiah [McKenzie]. Obviously, Jordan [Taylor] is not here, PUP [Physically Unable to Perform list]. Jordan would’ve been the first guy, probably, because he finished as the first guy last season, but Isaiah was [No. 2] so he’s [No. 1] now. Absolutely there is competition and whoever earns it gets it.”
That competition will continue throughout the week and may ramp up Saturday night against Minnesota. In a thorough judging process, games add yet another layer.
"It’s going to be a full evaluation," Joseph said. "From the spring, to camp, to the games, everything counts around here. We’re not wasting reps.
"Whatever you do on the grass, you earn and you keep it.”