NFL Predictions: Denver Broncos Additions Who Will Have a Surprise Impact
The Denver Broncos have undoubtedly made the most of their off-season. Whether we're considering their movement in the draft or free agency, we have to acknowledge that Denver has made significant improvements on both sides of the ball.
The most notable additions are fairly obvious and include the likes of Peyton Manning, Tracy Porter and Jacob Tamme. These players without question are expected to have the greatest impact in 2012 for the Broncos.
But what about Denver's other off-season additions? There are several under-the-radar players that could have a bigger than expected impact for the Broncos. While players getting chances as a result of injury can't be anticipated, these players in their own right, have a chance to get significant playing time and have a sizable impact on the Broncos' 2012 season.
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Though perhaps not as noteworthy as Porter, Drayton Florence brings some much needed veteran leadership to a secondary that, aside from Champ Bailey, had almost none after the departure of Andre Goodman.
Whether he lines up as the second or third corner he could be very effective against opposing teams' second or third wide receivers, as they will be getting more looks with opposing quarterbacks trying to throw away from Bailey.
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With Knowshon Moreno's time in Denver likely drawing to a close, Ronnie Hillman's value as a third down option for the Broncos is rapidly rising. At only 190 lbs. he's a speed back with great hands and could give Manning a steady passing option in the backfield.
While it's a different team without Tim Tebow, Denver's rushing attack will still be a huge part of their game plan, and if Hillman can assert himself as the second best option behind Willis McGahee, expect him to have a respectable rookie campaign.
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Just because Joel Dreessen didn't migrate to Denver from the Indianapolis Colts like Jacob Tamme, doesn't mean he can't have a big year for the Broncos.
In each of the last three season, Dreessen has caught more then 25 passes and has averaged over 12 yards per catch. If he maintains his form he'll be a significant threat and an excellent second option for Manning behind Jacob Tamme on a team that is built to pass the ball very often.
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Brandon Stokley is older, and at 35 comes in as the second oldest player on the Broncos roster behind Peyton Manning.
However, despite their age, the chemistry between these two players is certainly worth noting, as Stokley's best statistical years came at the hands of Manning.
If Stokley picks up where he left off as one of Manning's favorite targets, expect him to have a successful campaign regardless of where he lines up on the line of scrimmage.
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He may not be Brian Dawkins, but in the wake of the future hall-of-famer's retirement, Mike Adams is as good of a replacement as one could ask for. He'll be called upon to fill Dawkins' shoes and to continue to mentor Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore.
If Denver's run defense struggles, Adams should get the opportunity to play closer to the line of scrimmage to help force opposing teams to throw to the likes of Bailey, Porter and Florence.
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The Broncos made a lot of moves during the offseason and essentially changed the entire landscape of their offense. With Manning as the center piece, they've built around him quickly and brought in players who can help make the offense into what he wants it to be.
The question now isn't so much whether Manning will produce, but will his supporting cast be able to keep up, and will they get help from some more surprising, unlikely sources
It should be expected that if the Broncos are going to win their division again and are going to make a deeper playoff run then last year, they'll have to get contributions from players they've brought in to address particular need and vacancies, and to support a Manning-led offense.
Right now this team has set themselves up with the personnel to do just that, and it revolves around far more than just Manning's arm.