Who gets into the Hall of Fame first -- Steve Atwater or Karl Mecklenburg? Both are deserving and overdue, and I believe both will happen. It's just a matter of when.
-- Nathan Jones
Both should be in the Hall of Fame. Atwater created a template for safeties that players such as John Lynch and Brian Dawkins followed, and Mecklenburg has perhaps the most unique case for the Hall of any eligible player, given how he moved around the front seven, at one point playing every front-seven spot in a single game.
But with Mecklenburg's eligibility for the Hall of Fame from the primary pool about to end, I would expect that Atwater has a better chance of making it. If Mecklenburg is not selected in 2019 -- and he hasn't even been a finalist yet -- he will pass to the Seniors Committee, which has an overabundance of worthy candidates, including Broncos Ring of Famers Louis Wright and Randy Gradishar.
I'm going to project that Keenum gets precisely 25 touchdown passes. The 25 figure, by the way, is the average number of touchdowns thrown by each team in a season over the last four years, although the per-season average has dropped in the last three years, from 26.3 per team in 2015 to 24.7 in 2016 and 23.2 last year. While it might not stack up with the record-breaking numbers put up by Peyton Manning, it would work for an offense that would like to establish the run, something which set Keenum up for success last year.
A 25-touchdown season for Keenum would also represent a career high. If it comes with an interception rate similar to the one he posted last year -- one every 68.7 passes, fourth-best in the league among the 45 passers with 50 or more attempts -- Keenum will have cemented his place as a quality NFL passer, and the Broncos and their fans should be quite pleased with their new quarterback.
As for who gets the most sacks between Shaquil Barrett and Bradley Chubb, I think Chubb will get the nod. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks forecasts an 8-sack, 3-forced fumble season for Chubb, and it would not surprise me if he reaches those marks. Barrett's highest sack total came in 2015 when he had 5.5 sacks, and with Chubb and Von Miller drawing attention as Miller and DeMarcus Ware did that season, I think Barrett's 2018 sack total will be right around that number, maybe up to 6.5 or 7 sacks with a break or two.
Do you see the Broncos or maybe Nike changing up the Broncos uniforms anytime soon in the near future?
-- Tanner Lee
No, I do not. As has been mentioned before in this space, no uniform changes are currently in the pipeline.
At the start of the 2017 regular season -- based on where teams stood immediately after the roster deadline -- the youngest rosters in the NFL belonged to Cleveland (average age: 24.2), the Los Angeles Rams (25.1), Cincinnati (25.5), Jacksonville (25.6) and Indianapolis (25.7). What is interesting is that only three of the 10 youngest season-opening rosters from 2017 have quarterbacks who have won at least one playoff game -- Jacksonville (Blake Bortles), Indianapolis (Andrew Luck) and the New York Giants (Eli Manning).
Of those 10 teams, I would give the Rams the best chance of a dynasty, although that window could be limited. The Rams invested heavily in their defense this offseason, but by 2020, quarterback Jared Goff will be on his fifth-year option, and in 2021, he will likely be on a new contract that chews up a hefty percentage of their salary-cap space, which will change their overall team construction and place them in a bit of a transitory state.
Also, to take a look at the Broncos, take note of these nuggets of information:
Last year, the Broncos' season-opening starting lineup had an average age of 27.1 years, making it the eighth-oldest in the NFL. Their defense was slightly older than their offense. But when factoring in the entire 53-man roster, Denver's season-opening average age of 26.02 years was right in the middle -- at 26.02 years of age, it was tied with two other teams for 15th-youngest.
Recently on Orange and Blue 760, Atwater, Ryan Edwards and I offered our first 53-man roster projections. I didn't lob any curveballs, so the roster is roughly what you would expect. The average age of the players on my 53-man projection at the time of this year's 53-man roster deadline is 25.9 years of age. That would likely place the Broncos somewhere between 9th and 15th, based on previous years' data.
Even though some positions -- like quarterback -- have more experience now than before, the team as a whole should be younger. Furthermore, many of those young players should provide key contributions to supplement the core of veterans who are still in their prime, but are nearing or already past their 30th birthday.