Denver Broncos' 4 Backups Who Would Start for Other Teams
Since the John Elway era ended in Denver following the 1999 Super Bowl, media attention and national interest towards the Broncos has been significant, but never to the level that it once was.
Though Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler provided years of solid and fairly exciting offenses, the country was never too enamored with the bucking horses of Colorado.
There's no questioning that the Manning comeback project in Denver will capture headlines this year. Denver, for the first time since Elway's retirement, has a proven No. 1 quarterback at the reins. Helping Manning out will be the team around him, where some positions are stacked beyond belief.
Here are four players who are confined to a backup role in Denver, but could very justifiably have themselves a starting job in other cities.
4. Joel Dreessen, TE
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With Joel Dreessen, Virgil Green and Jacob Tamme, Denver is absolutely stacked at tight end; and they finally have a quarterback who can utilize the position.
Tamme is going to get the starting gig due to his successful history with Peyton Manning, and that makes Dreessen a very respectable No. 2 (and Green a very solid No. 3).
Tamme is more of a route runner/pass catcher than Dreessen, yet Dreessen's blocking abilities make him a valuable asset for any team. Teams that utilize a ground-attack offense would love to have Dreessen.
Teams That May Want Dreessen: (current starting tight end in parentheses)
Minnesota Vikings (John Carlson)
Chicago Bears (Matt Spaeth?)
Cleveland Browns (Ben Watson)
3. Nate Irving, ILB
Inside linebacker is not the focal point of Denver's defense, yet they still need to put productive performers on the field. Unfortunately for Joe Mays, he is not that; and Nate Irving is jumping at the bit to prove himself.
Irving had a great career at NC State, and with a year of experience in the NFL now behind him, he is now a prime candidate to start and ringlead a defense.
If Mays doesn't produce by four-six weeks in, Irving could find himself with a starting role in Denver.
Teams That May Want Irving: (current starting ILB)
Kansas City Chiefs (Jovan Belcher)
Washington Redskins (Perry Riley)
2. Philip Blake, C
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As graded by Pro Football Focus via my fellow B/R writer Christopher Hansen in his article on Denver Broncos predictions for 2012, J.D. Walton was the worst center in the league in 2011.
Unfortunately, Walton has the starting job, which means Peyton has less protection up the middle than he would with Philip Blake.
While it's definitely likely that Blake obtains the starting role early in the season, he's currently playing backup. He's not the best center in the league, but he's a better option than Walton, who gives up a lot of pressures.
Teams That May Want Blake: (current starting center)
New York Giants (David Baas)
San Francisco 49ers (Jonathan Goodwin)
Jacksonville Jaguars (Brad Meester)
1. Ronnie Hillman, RB
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Ronnie Hillman's best years will be three seasons down the road, but the former San Diego State standout will make an impact during his rookie season.
His small stature, (5'9", 196 lbs.) agility, and speed are the ideal makeup of today's running back. Hillman has the potential to be groomed into a dual-threat back, á la Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. He'll also be effective returning kicks.
Due to Knowshon Moreno's salary, however, Denver will not take the gamble on sitting Moreno. With Hillman on the bench, the pressure is certainly on for Moreno this year, who has a reputation of being both injury-prone and tough to deal with.
Teams That May Want Hillman: (current starting RB)
Green Bay Packers (James Starks)
New England Patriots (Stevan Ridley?)
Indianapolis Colts (Donnie Brown)