Any new players who have stood out that are falling under the radar?
-- Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL via Twitter)
As we discussed Friday on Orange and Blue 760, outside linebacker Malik Reed is one who jumps out. It was fun to watch him during last Monday's OTA as he consistently exploded off the edge to generate pressure on Kevin Hogan and Drew Lock. I want to pay more attention to what he does when he drops into coverage, but Reed looks like he can contend for a backup spot.
I don't think new cornerback De'Vante Bausby is under the radar, per se, but he's another new player to watch. After leading the Alliance of American Football in interceptions last year, he has a path to regular-season playing time. There will be some AAF players who stick on NFL rosters, having used the short-lived circuit as a chance to restart their careers and show that they can be late bloomers in pro football. Bausby has a decent shot to be one of them.
Inside linebacker Joe Dineen, wide receiver Trinity Benson, outside linebacker Ahmad Gooden and cornerback Alijah Holder also leapt into my notebook during the first OTA.
Do you think the lack of moves at the ILB position tell the tale about how the Broncos feel about Josey Jewell and Todd Davis, along with the drafting of Justin Hollins? Or was the price too high in free agency and the trade offer to pass up Devin Bush for a draft pick was too good?
-- Chris Stone (@badstonevader via Twitter)
The answer to your question is not an either-or/black-and-white one. It reflects how offseason plans must be elastic, and how filling every need with an optimal player can sometimes take multiple drafts. This is exacerbated by the Broncos' current state, as an 11-21 record over the last two years reflected a roster that had myriad areas in need of growth and reinforcements.
Going into the draft, every team prefers to have a core of 22 potential starters, plus some key rotational players (No. 3 cornerback, No. 3 wide receiver, etc.) with whom it is comfortable. With that, a team isn't pegged into filling a specific need, and can be flexible. That's how the Broncos went into this year's draft. A comfort zone with Davis and Jewell as the inside linebackers allowed them to take Pittsburgh's trade offer and accumulate extra picks, even though it meant pushing inside linebacker down a bit as other areas were addressed.
In some circles, the decision to re-sign Jeff Heuerman has been scrutinized because the Broncos took Noah Fant in the first round. But if Denver had not traded down, they might have waited until the middle rounds to address that position. If that scenario had transpired, the Broncos would have been in the lurch if they had not brought back Heuerman when his rookie contract expired.
Can you update us on the early competition in the offensive line? Are the only "set" positions the tackles?
-- Jose Borrero
In the NFL -- a.k.a. "Not for long," as the cliche goes -- no position is truly "set." However, I would argue that Connor McGovern is penciled in at center, and I would be stunned if Dalton Risner is not starting at one of the guard spots when Week 1 arrives. Ron Leary appears set to start if he is healthy; his availability for individual work during the first OTA last week was a positive sign in that regard.
So it seems the theme these past couple of years has been us fans screaming to run the ball. With this new coaching staff do you feel as if they'll actually play to the team's strengths (running the ball and working off play-action)?
-- Cole Reeves
In almost every iteration of this scheme going back to when Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak were together on the Broncos' staff in 1995, a productive ground attack and a play-action game to capitalize on it have been core competencies. You should expect that to be the case once again.
I assume that the Broncos won't keep 4 TEs on active roster. Assuming that Fant and Heuerman are safe, which of Jake Butt or Troy Fumagalli misses out?
-- Josh Lawton
Don't assume that. You don't have to dive deep into Broncos history to see instances in which they have carried four tight ends on the 53-man roster when the season began -- in 2015 and 2013. (It would have likely been three times in the last seven seasons if Virgil Green was not suspended to start the 2012 campaign.)