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'It's either adapt or die in the NFL': Peter King impressed by the Broncos' changes on offense

Two years can make a world of difference.

At this time in 2018, the Broncos' anticipated starting Case Keenum at quarterback, either Devontae Booker or Royce Freeman at running back and Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders at wide receiver.

Following the 2020 draft, the offense is now helmed by Drew Lock and features a running back tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon III, wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, and it has a top young tight end in Noah Fant.

With the most recent and prominent additions of Jeudy and wide receiver KJ Hamler with the Broncos' top two draft picks, President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway and his staff have conducted nearly a total overhaul of the offense.

That feat, NBC Sports' Peter King said Tuesday, has been remarkable.

"I'm blown away by the difference in the Denver Broncos in 24 months," King told DenverBroncos.com's Phil Milani. "I mean, compare this to April 1, 2018, and everything they've added. Their entire backfield is new with Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon. The quarterback is new, obviously, with Drew Lock. Their tight end is new with Noah Fant. And all of their wide receivers are new.

"I think the message this year, as Elway told me after the draft, is we've got to be able to play with Kansas City. They're going to be in our division. So that's the moral of the story, I think, for their draft."

Being able to compete with the defending Super Bowl champions will require more offensive production than the Broncos have gotten in the past two years. Denver has been outscored by the Chiefs 110-55 over the last four games, as the Broncos scored just nine points over two games in 2019.

With that in mind — and the Raiders also joining the race for more receiving talent — Elway and Co. aimed to bring much more speed to the roster by adding Jeudy and Hamler.

"It's either adapt or die in the NFL," King said. "… I mean look at the Super Bowl last year. Deebo Samuel was the 36th pick in the draft a year ago; he was one of the five best players on the field in the Super Bowl. Tyreek was another one of the five. It's pretty clear now that's what's important today in the NFL: wide receiver depth and receiving speed, too."

Now, King said, the pressure will fall onto Lock's lap to perform and get the most out of the Broncos' collection of talent.

"When you look at a team and how well they've done both in free agency, the draft, all that stuff, you do as much as you want, but if the quarterback is not good enough, you're not going to win," King said. "The Browns have done an incredible job building a team around Baker Mayfield, but if Baker Mayfield is not very good, they're not winning."

King, though, is optimistic about the Broncos' roster and their chances to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season.

"Denver really has turned into a team to watch for 2020 and beyond," King said. "… If I had to pick today, I'd pick them to make the playoffs. I think the West is very powerful. … I think Denver has real good chance to win 10 games this year."

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