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How the Broncos' roster stacks up after the NFL Draft

The Broncos' landscape is different now than it was Thursday morning. Not all questions have been answered. Some new ones, in terms of competition for roster position, were created.

Nevertheless, President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and Head Coach Vance Joseph emerged from the three-day draft with potential solutions for the short term and increased options for the long term.

Here's how the offense and defense stack up after the draft:



With no incumbent starter after the release of C.J. Anderson, this position battle could be the most intriguing of training camp.

Devontae Booker and De'Angelo Henderson are the only returning players in the group, which emerged from Saturday with more rookies (three) than veterans (two) in the wake of the drafting of Royce Freeman and David Williams and the reported addition of undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay.

Lindsay and Henderson are effective pass-catching backs and could find themselves in a spirited battle for sub-package, rotational work. Freeman, the No. 71 overall pick, can "absolutely" compete for the starting job, Joseph said Friday night, but Henderson will also be in the mix there.

"You've got to have two or three backs anyways, so it's always going to be open competition," Joseph said. "It takes two or three guys to have a solid backfield."

Andy Janovich remains the only fullback on the roster.



Fourth-year veteran Jeff Heuerman has the most experience in the room, and Austin Traylor emerged late last season as a dependable blocker who could fill the role vacated by Virgil Green, who signed with the Chargers last month. Matt LaCosse played in two games late last year for the Broncos.

But with just 12 career starts among the tight ends in the room, this is a position that should be wide open, with a chance for its youngest members to contribute immediately.

In effect, the Broncos have two rookies in this group: fifth-round pick Troy Fumagalli and 2017 fifth-round choice Jake Butt. Butt has the advantage of spending a year in meetings and at practices taking mental repetitions while working his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Fumagalli brings an understanding of -- and experience with -- the pro-style offense run at Wisconsin by head coach Paul Chryst, the brother of Broncos Tight Ends Coach Geep Chryst.

Butt and Fumagalli could be the future at the position. Both of them have the blocking ability to work as in-line tight ends, while also possessing the hands and route-running skill to work in a stand-up alignment. Both have the potential to re-shape the Broncos' red-zone attack and give Case Keenum the kind of dependable targets he had in Minnesota.

The versatility of Butt and Fumagalli is something Elway expressed a desire to find in his tight ends when he was asked about the position prior to the 2017 NFL Draft -- which saw an exceptionally deep crop of players at the position. The two young tight ends could give the Broncos the flexibility to eventually use a two-tight end formation as their base package, which worked in 2012 with Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme.



Second-round pick Courtland Sutton and fourth-round selection DaeSean Hamilton will factor into the Broncos' short- and long-term planning. In 2018, they have a chance to be the third and fourth receivers behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and will find themselves locked in a competition that includes 2017 draft picks Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie and third-year veteran Jordan Taylor.

Few teams have ever kept seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster heading into a season. With Thomas, Sanders, Sutton and Hamilton likely to make the team, the group of reserves led by Henderson, McKenzie and Taylor could be battling for one or two spots.


Once Sam Darnold went off the board to the New York Jets with the No. 3 overall pick, the Broncos were no longer in play for a quarterback at the fifth selection. Elway said the Broncos considered some quarterbacks at other spots in the draft, but chose to bolster other positions.

So the depth chart stands unchanged in the draft: Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly. However, Elway said that Kelly -- the last pick of the 2017 draft, at No. 256 -- will have the chance to compete for the second-team spot behind Keenum.

"We are not going to bring another [quarterback] in for OTAs," Elway said. We will take a peek at that. It will be those two and [QB] Case [Keenum]. We are going to OTAs with those guys and go from there."



Sixth-round pick Sam Jones has a chance to compete for a multifaceted role on the interior of the offensive line. Jones started 19 games over the last two seasons at Arizona State after working at both tackle spots during his redshirt freshman year.

"We felt that Sam had some upside," Elway said. "We liked the way that he played the game."

While Jones can go to tackle in an emergency, his pro future rests at guard and center, where he will compete with Max Garcia and Billy Turner for spots behind the current first-team trio of left guard Ron Leary, center Matt Paradis and right guard Connor McGovern.

Turner can also provide depth at right tackle behind Jared Veldheer, with Menelik Watson, Elijah Wilkinson and Cyrus Kouandjio competing for spots behind the starters. Veldheer can also flip to left tackle if Garett Bolles is injured.



After taking defensive ends Adam Gotsis and DeMarcus Walker in the previous two second rounds, the Broncos avoided the defensive line entirely in the 2018 draft.

The emergence of Shelby Harris as a rotational contributor last year gave the Broncos some flexibility to not target the line in the draft. The selection of Bradley Chubb with the No. 2 overall pick also helps, as Joseph said it's "possible" that the 269-pound outside linebacker could work as one of two inside rushers on sub-package downs.

Free-agent pickup Clinton McDonald and returning veteran Zach Kerr provide depth and flexibility up front, and nose tackle Domata Peko Sr. is set to anchor the unit.


Joseph said at the NFL Annual Meeting last month that he hoped to add an inside linebacker early in the draft. That hope became reality when the Broncos selected Iowa's Josey Jewell with the 106th overall pick. This is the earliest the Broncos have taken a linebacker who is not an edge rusher since they selected Nate Irving with the 67th pick in 2011. Irving worked as a middle linebacker in the 4-3 alignment the Broncos used at the time.

Jewell and sixth-rounder Keishawn Bierria could transform the depth of that unit, which took a hit with the free-agent departure of Corey Nelson for the Eagles. They will compete with a group led by Zaire Anderson, Jerrol Garcia-Williams and Joseph Jones, with special-teams work likely deciding who earns active-roster spots on game day.



Chubb will work with the strong-side outside linebackers, Joseph said, which puts Chubb in the same meeting room with Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett. Von Miller, who is set to work on the weak side, will be placed with Bill Kollar's defensive-line group for meetings so he can focus on the pass rush.

Auburn's Jeff Holland, a first-team All-SEC pick who posted 10 sacks last season, reportedly agreed to terms with the Broncos after the draft. Holland posted 10 sacks and 13 tackles for loss last year and is a raw talent, but could stick as a fifth outside linebacker behind Miller, Barrett, Ray and Chubb.


Third-round pick Isaac Yiadom's athleticism and skill set evokes comparisons to 2017 draftee Brendan Langley, who was also picked near the end of the third round one year ago. Yiadom, Langley, Marcus Rios are the primary contenders for reserve spots behind starters Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby and potential No. 3 cornerback Tramaine Brock.

As with inside linebacker, special teams could be a deciding factor. The free-agent departures of wide receivers Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler III leave the Broncos looking to establish some new gunners. Taylor, another wide receiver, is a possibility, but Langley, Yiadom and Rios all have a chance to earn extensive roles on punt coverage, kickoff coverage and on the punt- and kickoff-return teams.



After trading for Su'a Cravens last month, the Broncos opted to stand pat at safety in the draft, with Darian Stewart and Justin Simmons leading the way as first-teamers. Cravens is projected to handle a sub-package role working alongside an every-down inside linebacker.

The competition to watch could be on the second team, where Will Parks, Jamal Carter and Dymonte Thomas all return. Carter emerged as one of the team's best young special teasers last season, while Parks saw work in the team's three-safety package. Thomas emerged on the active roster late. With Cravens joining a group anchored by Darian Stewart and emerging third-year veteran Justin Simmons, the Broncos could face a tough decision on the back end of the depth chart -- a choice that could be decided by special-teams proficiency.

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