The 2019 Denver Broncos season was a tale of two halves. The first half featured veteran quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen leading this team to a 3-8 start. The second half featured rookie quarterback Drew Lock starting and leading this team to a 4-1 finish. What seemed like another lost season for the Broncos quickly turned into optimism and excitement heading into the 2020 offseason. After five years of struggling to find a successor at quarterback after Peyton Manning‘s retirement, the Broncos struck gold with their 42nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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Entering the offseason, the team parted ways with offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after one season. In Scangarello’s lone season as the team’s offensive coordinator, the Broncos’ offense ranked 28th in the league in scoring, 28th in passing, and 32nd in passing touchdowns. Despite the late-season success with Drew Lock, head coach Vic Fangio determined that a change at offensive coordinator would be best for the team. Enter Pat Shurmur.
The New York Giants fired head coach Pat Shurmur a month before Scangarello’s release from the team. With Fangio calling the plays on defense, he desperately needed an experienced offensive play-caller that he could trust to lead the offense. Shurmur’s experience and the success he’s had made him the right choice to lead the offense according to the Broncos’ President of Football Operations/GM John Elway. Lock entered the offseason in excellent hands with Shurmur steering the offensive ship.
The Broncos made seven important offseason moves, including:
- Used Franchise Tag on DB Justin Simmons
- Agreed to terms with RB Melvin Gordon
- Agreed to terms with OL Graham Glasgow
- Acquired CB A.J. Bouye
- Acquired DL Jurrell Casey
- Agreed to terms with CB De’Vante Bausby
- Agreed to terms with backup QB Jeff Driskel
These offseason moves were crucial to bolstering both sides of the ball. The Glasgow and Driskel free-agent additions along with the emergence of Lock gave the Broncos the freedom to use their first two draft picks on wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. Jeudy’s elite route-running and Hamler’s game-changing speed can lift the top off of any defense. This was a very impressive offseason for Elway.
Drew Lock is the ultimate wildcard for the Broncos heading into the 2020 season. Elway has surrounded Lock with a bevy of talented offensive players including Courtland Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler, Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, and Noah Fant. Unfortunately, Lock didn’t have a normal offseason to build chemistry with his new teammates. The young and talented wide receiver trio of Sutton, Jeudy, and Fant along with veteran running backs Gordon and Lindsay should make life a lot easier on Lock.
Defensive guru Vic Fangio has quickly put his stamp on this defense. The acquisitions of Bouye and Casey have given this team much-needed talent on the defensive line and secondary. Bradley Chubb will return this season after suffering a torn ACL back in Week 4. He and Von Miller will form a lethal pass-rushing duo this season, which should help the secondary. This defense has Top-10 potential with Bryce Callahan returning from a freak accident that kept him out last year along with Bouye and Simmons in the secondary.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
QB (2) – Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel
No surprise here. Elway has given Lock the keys to the offense and has surrounded him with talented skill-position players. Driskel agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract over the offseason to be the backup. He has the mobility and necessary arm talent to keep this RPO offense going if Lock misses any time.
Gordon signed a two-year, $16 million contract over the offseason. He will be the 1A to Lindsay’s 1B. Initially, undrafted free agent Bellamy was making the team over Freeman, but the Broncos will figure out a way to keep both running backs on the roster.
Hamler’s hamstring injury opened the door for both Patrick and Cleveland to make this team. Spencer starts the year off as the kick returner but will have a short leash considering Cleveland’s college experience as a kick/punt returner.
The fourth-round draft selection of Okwuegbunam along with the offseason signing of Vannett officially put Jeff Heuerman, Troy Fumagalli, and Jake Butt‘s roster spots on notice. Shurmur has never featured tight ends in his offense, so there’s no reason to keep over three tight ends.
With Ja’Wuan James opting out of the 2020 season, the Broncos signed veteran right tackle Dotson to compete for the starting position. Dotson’s experience should give him the upper hand, while Wilkinson remains a valuable depth piece who can play both guard and tackle.
The addition of five-time Pro Bowl defensive linemen Casey has officially made this line one of the scariest in the league. Harris returns on a one year “prove it” deal, which bodes well for the growth of Jones and rookie Agim. This line has the talent and potential to be one of the best in the league for years to come.
After a dominant career at NDSU, seventh-round rookie Tuszka could cement a role as a rotational player as soon as this year. Reed’s spot is safe considering how well he played after Chubb went down last season.
Davis and Johnson will carry this unit to start the season while Jewell rotates in against the run. The Broncos recently brought Barron in off the street to replace rookie Justin Strnad who suffered a season-ending wrist injury. Barron is a hybrid linebacker who has plenty of experience covering tight ends.
Callahan has proved his health so far in training camp. Bouye and Ojemudia should hold down outside duties while Callahan handles nickel corner duties. There are a lot of question marks in this secondary, but the talent of the defensive line should help cover any inefficiencies.
Simmons and Jackson make up an elite starting duo, but depth is a concern. Dawson and Marshall don’t have any competition for the backup role.
McManus and Martin will be the starting kicker and punter, respectively. Bobenmoyer has officially won the starting long snapper job after the release of Wes Farnsworth.
The Broncos have made a lot of moves over the last two offseasons that should inspire confidence and optimism heading into the 2020-2021 NFL season. No move was more important than the 42nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft – Drew Lock. This team will go as far as he takes them. With the additions of rookie Jeudy and Hamler along with Pro Bowl RB Gordon, this offense looks lethal and has the potential to be a Top-10 unit. With Miller and Chubb rushing the quarterback on both ends along with Casey stuffing the middle, this defense has vastly improved and should keep the Broncos in every game.
Season Prediction: 10-6 and make a wild-card spot in the playoffs
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