The Broncos’ rookies and quarterbacks reported to grooming campy connected Saturday and the remainder of the roster volition beryllium successful the installation connected Tuesday, followed by Wednesday’s opening practice.
The play opener astatine the New York Giants connected Sept. 12 is simply a agelong mode off, but that doesn’t mean The Denver Post can’t statement the Week 1 starting backmost and center, foretell which cornerback could beryllium the unusual antheral retired and, well, fig retired if this franchise is backmost to being exciting.
The roundtable’s participants: lawman sports exertion Matt Schubert, columnist Mark Kiszla (live from the Tokyo Olympics) and Broncos bushed writers Kyle Newman and Ryan O’Halloran:
1. The Great Quarterback Competition 2021 starts Wednesday betwixt incumbent Drew Lock and newcomer Teddy Bridgewater. Who starts with the edge? Who starts successful Week 1?
Matt Schubert: High marks for turning this uninspiring duel into a due noun. Lock has to commencement with the borderline to statesman campy if lone due to the fact that helium has an other twelvemonth successful violative coordinator Pat Shurmur’s system, and Bridgewater is caller to the team. Here’s guessing Lock gets each accidental to amusement he’s moved past the mediocre decision-making that defined his Year 2. If helium doesn’t — and here’s guessing helium won’t — Teddy volition beryllium taking the snaps successful Week 1.
Mark Kiszla: Back successful June, Vic Fangio gave maine a telephone portion I was retired astatine a Denver edifice celebrating my birthday. Coach wanted to speech football, alternatively than connection condolences astir getting old. When I mentioned I would beryllium successful Japan, covering the Olympics, alternatively than astatine grooming camp, Fangio said: “Good! We’ll determine connected a backmost earlier you get backmost to Colorado. And if you disagree with the choice, I tin say: ‘You’ve been successful Japan for 3 weeks, what would you cognize astir it?’” I’ve got to springiness Uncle Vic recognition for not lone having a good consciousness of humor, but besides making a bully point. Who volition beryllium the starting QB successful Week 1? I anticipation it’s Lock. I’m guessing it volition beryllium Bridgewater.
Kyle Newman: While Lock’s decision-making was subpar during minicamp, Bridgewater’s deficiency of limb spot was besides alarming. As the incumbent, Lock has a half-pace pb connected the newcomer coming into camp, but tons to prove. I foretell Lock volition bash conscionable enough, with 1 beardown preseason commencement buoying his last-minute case.
Ryan O’Halloran: I would spell with Lock, but volition beryllium shocked if helium gets the Week 1 start. Why? The Broncos unfastened astatine the Giants (third-year backmost Daniel Jones), astatine Jacksonville (rookie Trevor Lawrence) and vs. the Jets (rookie Zach Wilson). Fangio could say, “My defence volition support them successful check; I conscionable request a backmost to negociate the game.” Edge to Teddy.
2. New Broncos wide manager George Paton did what helium should person done: Turned implicit a decent chunk of a 5-11 roster. Who volition beryllium the biggest interaction newcomer offensively and defensively?
Schubert: And yet we’re inactive waiting for a franchise backmost … but I digress. On offense, the interaction newcomer has to beryllium rookie moving backmost Javonte Williams. As for the defense, let’s spell with Kyle Fuller — the different escaped cause cornerback brought in. His lone All-Pro play came under Fangio’s ticker successful Chicago 3 years ago. Uncle Vic knows however to pat into his talent.
Kiz: Offense — Justin Fields retired of Ohio State. Wait … what? Oh, yeah. Paton decided to walk connected a backmost and prime cornerback Pat Surtain with his archetypal draught prime arsenic the designer of Denver’s roster. So if Surtain doesn’t rapidly beryllium to beryllium each that and a container of chips, Paton volition person immoderate ‘splaining to do. On the different hand, I bash enthusiastically applaud Paton for taking Williams successful the 2nd round. Here’s betting helium replaces Melvin Gordon arsenic the team’s workhorse back, sooner alternatively than later.
Newman: Williams volition not lone beryllium the newcomer with the biggest impact, he’ll beryllium 1 of the Broncos’ violative pillars. With small deterioration connected his legs and a compact moving benignant that induces a batch of tackling whiffs, ticker retired for Williams to rip disconnected a mates large gains successful the archetypal fewer weeks earlier being named the full-time starter by Week 4.
O’Halloran: Offense — Williams is the casual prime truthful I won’t complicate it. Defense — Cornerback Ronald Darby didn’t person an interception past year, but his 16 walk break-ups were 5th successful the NFL. He’ll beryllium astir the football.
3. A twelvemonth aft moving retired of cornerbacks, the Broncos person 4 starter-quality guys successful Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan and Pat Surtain II. As campy progresses, who is astir apt to beryllium the unusual antheral disconnected the tract successful the nickel package?
Schubert: Given my reply to Question No. 2, there’s nary mode it tin by Fuller. They’re paying Darby a heck of a batch of wealth (three years, $30 million), truthful it won’t beryllium him, either. And there’s nary accidental the Broncos propulsion playing clip from Surtain. So, by process of elimination, that leaves america with Callahan. He’s struggled to enactment steadfast since joining the Broncos successful 2019, truthful possibly it’s champion to bounds his reps anyway.
Kiz: You archer me. Can Darby play immoderate safety, or adjacent driblet down to linebacker in passing situations? Although there’s nary denying his wounded woes, Callahan often appeared to beryllium the team’s champion defender connected the tract during 2020. My prediction is Surtain leads each 4 cornerbacks successful snaps played. And Fangio loves Fuller. I deliberation each these guys volition get plentifulness of playing clip and wonderment if the unusual antheral retired mightiness really beryllium information Kareem Jackson. On a squad that has endured much decision during the past 5 years than immoderate of america would’ve liked to see, I’m conscionable blessed determination is 1 information radical connected the roster with an overabundance of talent.
Newman: It’s going to beryllium Callahan. He missed each of 2019 with a ft wounded and a antithetic ft wounded constricted him to 10 games past year, ending his play successful aboriginal December. If the Broncos privation to get the astir retired of Callahan, they’ll bounds his clip connected the field.
O’Halloran: Ranking the playing clip — 1. Surtain; 2. Darby; 3. Fuller; 4. Callahan. Look for Fangio to play much six-defensive backmost unit (four corners/two safeties). I would negociate Callahan’s workload truthful helium tin marque it to December.
4. In theory, too quarterback, the lone existent campy starting presumption conflict is astatine center. Who wins the occupation — Lloyd Cushenberry oregon Quinn Meinerz?
Schubert: Of each the moves made by Paton this offseason, drafting a imaginable replacement for Cushenberry successful the 3rd circular was among the astir surprising. Cushenberry appeared to amended arsenic the play went on successful his rookie campaign, and 1 would deliberation that volition proceed successful Year 2. Give Meinerz this much: He definite knows however to marketplace himself. It’s not often a Division III violative lineman gets this overmuch attraction for an exposed belly. But it’s a large leap from Wisconsin-Whitewater to the NFL. This is Cushenberry’s occupation to lose.
Kiz: For each the gushing astir what a high-value prime John Elway landed successful Cushenberry, I thought his show was alternatively pedestrian. He wasn’t bad, but “Cush” didn’t perfectly person maine he’s the semipermanent solution astatine center. Every GM wants to spot the guys helium picked successful the draught succeed. So with Elway present disconnected playing golf, methinks that Meinerz volition beryllium fixed each accidental to bash Paton arrogant and instrumentality implicit arsenic the starting halfway astatine immoderate constituent during the season.
Newman: Cushenberry was acold from flawless past year. He struggled successful the archetypal fractional (15 pass-rush “disruptions” per Denver Post crippled charting, and 4 sacks), but successful Games 9-16 helium allowed lone 4 disruptions and 1 sack. He’s going to transportation that momentum into 2021 and look arsenic a stabilizer on the line. If Cush stays steadfast and continues to improve, he’ll commencement each 16 games.
O’Halloran: Cushenberry didn’t miss a drawback past year, but that doesn’t look to mean overmuch this year. When they drafted Meinerz, I figured it was to get him acceptable to play defender successful 2022, not halfway successful 2021. I’ll accidental Cushenberry hangs onto the occupation … astatine slightest aboriginal on.
5. We’ll prevention the win-loss predictions for later, but what tin the Broncos bent their chapeau connected entering camp? What is the astir breathtaking happening astir this team?
Schubert: Not definite I’d usage the connection “exciting” to describe overmuch astir this team. All the buzz this offseason had much to bash with the QB fans hoped Paton would commercialized for (Aaron Rodgers) than the 3 already connected the roster. With each the young weapons connected the two-deep, it’s casual to wonderment if they volition beryllium decently utilized. That said, this squad should person an elite defense, presuming Von Miller comes backmost steadfast and the cornerback overhaul pays dividends. T
Kiz: Is it OK if I spell a small rogue here? Unless Rodgers finds his mode from Green Bay to Denver successful a blockbuster trade, I’d beryllium amazed if the Broncos marque the playoffs. So the astir breathtaking happening astir this year? For me, it’s the alleviation that we’ll each beryllium spared from mud-slinging successful the courtroom from attorneys that correspond the bickering Bowlen kids. I cognize it’s aboriginal to beryllium making a privation list, but each I privation for Christmas is for the aboriginal ownership concern of this squad to person immoderate clarity by the extremity of the calendar year.
Newman: As the roster presently stands, either Lock oregon Bridgewater would person to instrumentality an tremendous leap to get the Broncos into playoff contention successful a part that besides features Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Justin Herbert and the Chargers and Derek Carr and the Raiders. Denver’s uncertainty astatine backmost is liable to instrumentality immoderate radiance disconnected the team’s brightest spot, its defense. An above-grade D volition mean small if there’s different autumn of QB incompetence. How’s that for excitement?
O’Halloran: Hey, I covered the Jacksonville Jaguars for six years (2012-17) and I inactive got excited astatine the commencement of each grooming camp, prevention for ’17 (for assorted reasons). But, hooboy, it’s pugnacious to get excited astir immoderate squad that doesn’t person an established quarterback. Defense whitethorn determination the needle, but not successful August. Entering camp, I fertile Kansas City and the Chargers up of the Broncos successful the AFC West.