If there's one thing Aric DiLalla and Phil Milani like more than watching football, it's arguing with each other about it. In this new DenverBroncos.com series, they'll get the chance to do just that. In each edition, we'll present five statements. Aric and Phil will then say "Yeigh" if they agree with the notion or "Neigh" — get it? — if they don't. There's hardly a better time to start than after a dramatic first wave of free agency that completely changed the makeup of Denver's roster. Read on for Aric's and Phil's answers, then let us know (on Twitter via @AricDiLalla and @PhilMilani) to let us know who is right.
The Broncos' 2020 free-agent class (including trades) could be better than the Class of 2014
This is somewhat of a hot take, as the Broncos' 2014 free-agent class included DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders and T.J. Ward. The four players combined for nine Pro Bowl selections during their collective time in Denver, and they helped push the Broncos over the hump to win Super Bowl 50.
But to answer this question, we have to look at what they accomplished before they got to Denver. Ware was already a likely a Hall of Famer, as he had earned seven Pro Bowl nods and four first-team All-Pros. But everyone else was still proving themselves. Talib and Ward each had one Pro Bowl selection to their names, and Sanders did not yet have one. That's not dissimilar to what we see with this class of Jurrell Casey (five Pro Bowls), A.J. Bouye (one Pro Bowl), Melvin Gordon (two Pro Bowls) and Graham Glasgow (zero Pro Bowls).
That's a comparable enough resume to suggest this class could do something special in Denver. They'll obviously have to prove it, but it's not outside of the realm of possibility.
DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders and T.J. Ward — that 2014 class could go down as one of the best in NFL history. Ware is a surefire Hall of Famer, and I believe Talib could also eventually get "the knock."
When Ware signed with the Broncos, he had 117 sacks to his name (Cowboys career leader) and four first-team All-Pro selections. While I'm excited about this year's class, there is not a player in this group that comes close to Ware's caliber at the time of his signing.
Each one of the players in the 2014 class played an instrumental role in helping the Broncos win Super Bowl 50. And all four made the Pro Bowl during their time in Denver, with Talib leading the way with four selections. Talib was by far the best signing, as he racked up 11 interceptions and returned six for touchdowns while wearing the orange and blue.
The jury is still out on this year's class, but if they even come close to the 2014 group, I think Broncos Country will be thrilled.
Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will both have 1,000 yards rushing next season
I am a big fan of Melvin Gordon and his reported addition to the Broncos backfield. In today's NFL, you have to have two productive running backs and no one knows this more than Gordon himself, who shared the backfield in Los Angeles the past three seasons with Austin Ekeler. I expect Gordon to carry the bulk of the load, freeing up Lindsay to be a change-of-pace back, a role in which he experienced a lot of success as a rookie.
That being said, I find it extremely hard to see both of them going over 1,000 yards rushing next season. Lindsay has accomplished that feat in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, but Gordon's only season crossing the millennium mark came in 2017, when he finished with 1,105 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
Teammates rushing for 1,000 yards each can be done, but it is rare. In 2019, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram in Baltimore became only the seventh duo in league history to do it and the first since DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart did it in Carolina in 2009.
This is just too big of an ask. As you mentioned, Phil, only seven teams have had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers on the same team. Toss in the fact that Gordon has only rushed for 1,000 yards once in his career, and it seems unlikely that both he and Lindsay will reach the 1,000-yard mark.
Let's also consider that as Lindsay has broken the 1,000-yard mark each of the last two years, Royce Freeman has averaged just over 500 yards per season. The Broncos also have to make sure they get Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant involved.
Here's what I think could happen, though: Lindsay and Gordon could combine for 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Gordon has gone over 1,350 all-purpose yards in three of his five seasons, and it's entirely possible that Lindsay still posts 700-800 yards rushing. If that happens, the Broncos should be more than happy with their running back duo.
Jurrell Casey will make the biggest impact of any of the Broncos' new players
As I alluded to above, I think Melvin Gordon is going to be a very strong addition to this team — and it wouldn't surprise me if his stats are flashier than Casey's. It's quite possible that Gordon racks up yards and touchdowns, while Casey hovers around five sacks for the season. But that doesn't mean Gordon will have the bigger impact. Where Casey will prove invaluable for the Broncos is when he's paired with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Offenses will be forced to make a choice about which player they want to double-team. If Casey demands attention on the line of scrimmage — and I think he will — that should free up Miller and Chubb for more one-on-ones. And if Casey gets the one-on-one treatment, he's still explosive enough to take advantage. Interior pressure is the name of the game in today's NFL, and I expect Casey to complete a fearsome trio. Toss in his leadership and his consistent availability, and he's a top-notch addition.
Jurrell Casey comes to Denver with five consecutive Pro Bowl selections, and I say he will make it six after his first season with the Broncos. His biggest impact might not show up on his own stat sheet but rather on his teammates'. Casey and his 51 career sacks will demand the attention of opposing offensive lines, freeing up Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, who at times was triple-teamed last season. I expect the Broncos' pass rush to be vastly improved in 2020. Casey's presence in the middle should also help clog up running lanes, which at times was a struggle last season.
Drew Lock now has the best weapons of any of the top four rookie quarterbacks from 2019
1) Kyler Murray: DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Kenyan Drake, Christian Kirk
2) Drew Lock: Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon (reportedly), Phillip Lindsay
3) Daniel Jones: Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Golden Tate
4) Dwayne Haskins: Terry McLaurin, Adrian Peterson, Logan Thomas, Derrius Guice
That's how I would rank the weapons for the top four rookie quarterbacks from 2019. The biggest move this offseason, other than Tom Brady heading to Tampa Bay, was DeAndre Hopkins getting traded to Arizona. Murray now has two Hall of Fame-caliber wide receivers. The Cardinals also placed the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, as they turn to him at running back after sending David Johnson to the Texans as part of the deal for Hopkins.
I have Drew Lock's weapons second on the list. Courtland Sutton is an emerging star in the NFL after making his first Pro Bowl in 2019 and Noah Fant looks to be as good as advertised. The first-round pick from a year ago caught 40 passes and three touchdowns as a rookie. The running game should be dynamic.
I think it's clearly between Lock and Murray. Jones has Saquon Barkley, who might be the best overall player, but the depth in Denver and Arizona is greater.
The Cardinals make a strong case, as they'll feature DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk at wide receiver and Kenyan Drake at running back. But while Hopkins and Fitzgerald are an unreal duo, Fitzgerald will be 37 when the 2020 season begins. His 804 receiving yards last year were his most in two years, and he hasn't made a Pro Bowl since 2017. He's a surefire Hall of Famer, but I wonder how much he has left in the tank.
Once you consider the Broncos' advantage at tight end, I think the scale tips in Denver's direction. I'll take the versatility that having Sutton, Fant, Lindsay and Gordon provides. Add in a first-round receiver, and this skews even further in the Broncos' direction.
The Broncos MUST get one of the top three receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft, even if it means trading up
I know that right now it seems like the Broncos have to add either Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs III to the roster, but everything is going to be OK if that doesn't happen. This is a deep receiver class, and it's possible that talented players like Michael Pittman Jr., Brandon Aiyuk or Laviska Shenault could still be available when the Broncos pick in the second round.
If the Broncos want to move up from No. 46 to a higher pick in the second round, I'd be totally fine with that. That paid off for the Broncos in 2019 when they snagged Drew Lock. But the Broncos have other needs they can fill in the first round (inside linebacker and cornerback stand out to me), so I'd stand pat or trade back in the first round. With all the draft capital the Broncos have, I want to add as many talented pieces as possible in the Top 100. The one caveat: If Clemson's Isaiah Simmons starts to fall, Go. Get. Him.
I don't necessarily think the Broncos "MUST" get one of them, considering how deep the wideout class is this year, but it would be nice!
I expect at least one of them to still be there when the Broncos are picking at 15, and adding either Jeudy, Lamb or Ruggs would make the offense a lot more explosive, one of Denver's main goals this offseason. But I think the draft would still be a success if the Broncos addressed another position of need (maybe linebacker or defensive back) with the 15th-overall pick and used a later selection on a receiver like Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins or Laviska Shenault.