ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Over the course of three days, the Broncos added a series of potential difference-makers to their roster.
Following their 10 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, Denver's roster construction and needs are quite different than they were a week ago.
And while the season remains months away, the Broncos' roster is beginning to round into shape.
The following is a position-by-position breakdown of where the team currently stands.
(Note: These are merely my projections and do not represent the organization's opinions)
Projected starter: Drew Lock
Key reserve(s): Jeff Driskel
The Broncos didn't address this position in the draft, and they didn't need to address it. Isn't it funny how having a quarterback makes everything easier? Instead of worrying about finding a quarterback, the Broncos built around Drew Lock. Driskel seems like the safe bet to be the backup, but Brett Rypien will try to have a say in the matter.
Projected starter: Melvin Gordon III
Key reserve(s): Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman
The Broncos were also set at this position and decided not to add to the group until theyagreed to terms with Western Michigan's LeVante Bellamy in undrafted free agency.
I expect Gordon will get more touches than Lindsay, but both players should be major factors in 2020. Freeman could also see action at times. This is among the most solid group on Denver's roster.
Projected starters: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler
Key reserve(s): Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, Diontae Spencer
The Broncos spent the 15th- and 46th-overall picks on wide receivers, as they added Jeudy and Hamler to provide a boost to the receiving corps. Denver also drafted Florida's Tyrie Cleveland in the seventh round. Jeudy should start immediately alongside Sutton, and I'd expect Hamler to earn more playing time as the team progresses. This group is quite young, as none of the top contributors have more than two seasons of NFL experience. They do, however, have quite a bit of talent. Patrick and Hamilton should battle with Hamler for playing time early on. Spencer will likely make his biggest contribution as a return specialist.
Projected starter: Noah Fant
Key reserve(s): Nick Vannett, Albert Okwuegbunam, Jeff Heuerman, Andrew Beck
The Broncos' selection of Okwuegbunam, Lock's college teammate, seemed to be based on a best-player-available mentality. He should quickly become the team's second-best receiving option at tight end. Vannett, meanwhile, should be the top blocking tight end after being signed in free agency. Heuerman, Beck, Jake Butt, Austin Fort and Troy Fumagalli are among the players who seem set to compete for one of the final spots in the group.
Projected starters: LT Garett Bolles, LG Dalton Risner, C Lloyd Cushenberry III, RG Graham Glasgow, RT Ja'Wuan James
Key reserve(s): Elijah Wilkinson, Pat Morris, Austin Schlottmann, Netane Muti
Head Coach Vic Fangio said Cushenberry will compete with Morris for the center job, but I expect Cushenberry to be a Day 1 starter. And despite John Elway's announcement that Bolles and Wilkinson will compete for the left tackle job, I expect Bolles to come out ahead. Muti may take a bit of time to come along, but he could be a key depth piece at guard and maybe a future starter. It remains possible the Broncos could explore a veteran option to compete at left tackle, but that feels unlikely.
Projected starters: DE Jurrell Casey, NT Mike Purcell, DE Shelby Harris
Key reserve(s): Dre'Mont Jones, McTelvin Agim, DeMarcus Walker
Fangio hasn't yet outlined the team's plan for the defensive line, but I think it's a decent bet that Casey, Purcell and Harris start in the team's base defense. In sub-packages, I suspect Casey slides inside and Harris and Jones become the defensive ends. Jones was an ascending player toward the end of last season, and Agim could be a sneaky good addition after the Broncos took him in the third round. This group, which was a question mark heading into free agency, is one of the best units on the roster.
Projected starters: Alexander Johnson, Todd Davis
Key reserve(s): Josey Jewell, Justin Strnad, Joe Jones, Justin Hollins
The Broncos used a fifth-round pick on Wake Forest linebacker Justin Strnad, and I suspect he could make an impact in Year 1 — especially on third down. A former high-school safety, Strnad may have the athleticism to help cover tight ends and running backs. He fell down draft boards because of a bicep injury, but he has the potential to be a contributor. Johnson and Davis will likely remain the starters in the team's base defense.
Projected starters: Von Miller, Bradley Chubb
Key reserve(s): Jeremiah Attaochu, Malik Reed, Derrek Tuszka
Miller and Chubb are the unquestioned starters, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tuszka makes the Broncos' 53-man roster. The FCS All-American had 13.5 sacks as a senior and likely would've been drafted higher if not for his level of competition. Attaochu and Reed also remain quality depth pieces. The Broncos, as they have been for years, seem set at the edge rushing position.
Projected starters: A.J. Bouye, Bryce Callahan
Key reserve(s): Michael Ojemudia, Davontae Harris, De'Vante Bauby, Duke Dawson Jr., Isaac Yiadom
The Broncos added another possible option for the third cornerback position when they drafted Ojemudia in the third round from Iowa. Though he'll need to improve to play at the next level, Ojemudia is a big, physical player that fits Fangio's scheme. The Broncos' head coach said he feels good about the team's depth at cornerback and expects two of the reserves to emerge as options. It's still possible, in my eyes, that the Broncos add a veteran cornerback before the season.
Projected starters: Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson
Key reserve(s): Trey Marshall
The Broncos have one of the best starting safety tandems in the league, as they return a second-team All-Pro in Simmons and a Pro Bowl alternate in Jackson. Behind those players, though, they may need some depth. Marshall returns, but otherwise they feature unproven players in P.J. Locke, Tyvis Powell and Kahani Smith. The Broncos also reportedly signed Texas Tech safety Douglas Coleman III. Could Coleman, who was third in the FBS with eight interceptions, become the latest undrafted player to make the initial active roster?