ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos return for the start of the voluntary offseason program, Denver's roster has begun to take shape.
General Manager George Paton will have a chance to add to their roster in a little more than two weeks when the 2022 NFL Draft begins, but the bones and foundation of this year's team appear largely in place.
There are still areas where Denver will look to add more talent, but Paton and Co. have filled a majority of the team's needs.
As Paton continues to tinker with the roster, here's a look at where the Broncos stand.
The Broncos' biggest move of the offseason — and perhaps the biggest move anywhere in the league — came when they traded for Russell Wilson. For the first time in more than half a decade, the Broncos have a proven franchise quarterback in his prime — and Wilson should be the answer at this spot for a long time. Behind him, the team signed Josh Johnson to compete with Brett Rypien for the reserve quarterback role.
"[He's] someone who can help Russ and 'Ryp,' but if he has to play, can go in and win football games," Paton said at the NFL Annual Meeting. "I thought he played well this year. He had two games [in which] he threw over 300 yards. He's seen it all and he's a pro. When you talk to him, you'll see it. He's like a coach on the field. He's just going to bring that. It's a great room with Russ and 'Ryp,' and you bring another veteran who really works, knows the process. It's really going to help our room."
The Broncos could choose to bring in a fourth quarterback in training camp, but it would be a bit of a surprise to see the team draft a signal caller before the late stages of Day 3.
Javonte Williams is in place as the team's lead back, but the Broncos could still stand to add to their backfield. Mike Boone showed promise in his first year in Denver during his limited carries, but this could be a position to keep an eye on during the draft or as free agents continue to sign across the league.
No matter who fills the No. 2 running back role, it seems clear that he will receive a decent share of carries.
"I think with any running back, you always want to have as many as you can," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said at the NFL Annual Meeting. "You want a big stable. You want to have a guy that you can feed and make sure he gets a lot. He's still a young player, and he's still learning. You want to make sure you can split it as much as you can. … A lot of the places that I've been, there's always been kind of two guys because you always want to try to split the load as much as you can. At the same time, he's a great player. We'll just have to see how the whole thing goes."
One of the Broncos' deepest position groups, Denver's wide receiving corps features Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy as its top options. KJ Hamler continues to work toward a return from his ACL injury, while Kendall Hinton will again look to secure a roster spot. Seth Williams, a late-round pick in 2021, will aim to carve out more of a role in 2022, and Tyrie Cleveland could make a push, as well.
If Paton targets special teams contributors late in the draft, this could be a spot where the Broncos add more talent.
After Noah Fant was dealt to the Seahawks in exchange for Wilson, Albert Okwuegbunam will now step into the starting tight end role. The third-year player has 44 career receptions for 451 yards and three touchdowns, but he figures to see much more action in 2022.
Denver added Eric Tomlinson in free agency as a blocking tight end, but the Broncos could still add another receiving option. This could be one of Denver's biggest remaining needs, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Paton and Co. target a tight end early in their selections during the draft.
Paton spent as much time improving the offensive line as any position group on the team. Denver re-signed Calvin Anderson and added Billy Turner, Tom Compton and Ben Braden as the Broncos try to build a wall in front of Wilson.
Some still view right tackle as a need, but the biggest unknown is where everyone will play. Garett Bolles seems solidified at left tackle, but the rest of the unit could see plenty of changes. Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Quinn Meinerz, Graham Glasgow, Netane Muti, Turner, Compton and Braden should all compete for spots. As the offseason begins, expect to hear about players lining up in different spots.
"We're going to throw everybody everywhere," Hackett said in late March. "One thing I've learned in the past, I think last year we probably had 10 different combinations of offensive line through everybody. It's not necessarily that people will be going for one spot. They've got to train in all the spots, so if something happens they can play anywhere at a high level."
The Broncos made a couple of moves up front, as they re-signed DeShawn Williams and prioritized D.J. Jones in free agency. Denver struggled against the run at times in 2021, and the addition of Jones should help bolster their performance.
Both players figure to be in the team's rotation alongside Mike Purcell and Dre'Mont Jones, but the rest of the group will be interesting to watch. McTelvin Agim and Marquiss Spencer will be among the players who push for a role, and Denver could still benefit from adding more competition at the position in the draft.
The Broncos retained Josey Jewell, whom Paton called the "glue that kept our defense together," as they looked to build a linebacking corps that was battered by injuries in 2021. Denver also kept Jonas Griffith and signed Alex Singleton, who led the Eagles in tackles for a pair of seasons.
Baron Browning remains on the roster, but Hackett spoke in March about the possibility of moving the second-year player to outside linebacker.
Justin Strnad and Barrington Wade return, but this could be another position where the Broncos add in the draft.
Denver made its biggest splash in free agency by adding Randy Gregory to the team's pass-rushing unit. Gregory should provide a presence opposite Bradley Chubb, who should be healthy after he battled a pair of ankle injuries in 2021. Behind Gregory and Chubb, the Broncos will also feature Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper, Aaron Patrick and Andre Mintze. As previously mentioned, Browning could also be a possible addition to the rotation.
The Broncos appear to have strong depth at this position, but don't rule out the addition of another player in the draft if a quality rusher is available.
The Broncos' questions at this position came largely at nickel and in their reserve spots, as both Pat Surtain II and Ronald Darby are set to return. Denver filled their nickel spot with the addition of K'Waun Williams, but there could be more additions to come. Denver has just five cornerbacks on its roster, and it's possible the Broncos could add players to compete with Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey for reserve spots.
Denver answered a big question Monday, as safety Kareem Jackson signed a one-year contract to remain in Denver. Caden Sterns, P.J. Locke, J.R. Reed and Jamar Johnson all figure to also compete for roles in 2022.
Justin Simmons, the Broncos' 2021 MVP as voted on by local media, also returns to guide the unit and the defense.
The Broncos added Corliss Waitman to a punting group that features Sam Martin, but Brandon McManus is the only kicker currently on the roster.
One of new Special Teams Coordinators Dwayne Stukes' priorities will be to fill the punt-returning position, as the Broncos did not tender Diontae Spencer. The Broncos could look to a player currently on their roster or add a replacement in the draft or free agency.