Caleb Hanie Gone? Predicting the Denver Broncos' Biggest Cuts at Every Position

Jason Muckley@@jamuckleySenior Analyst IIAugust 31, 2012

Caleb Hanie Gone? Predicting the Denver Broncos' Biggest Cuts at Every Position

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    Last week it was Lonie Paxton. Paxton was a 13-year veteran and seemed like a lock for the Denver Broncos’ 53-man roster. In 2012, there are lots of crowded positions all over the team that need to be trimmed for the Broncos to get to the 53-player limit today.

    Let’s analyze each position and see who is most likely to be without a job on the Broncos.

Wide Receivers: 5 Players

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    Eric Decker looks to be Manning’s favorite target on this team. He is athletic and often open. He can adjust to the ball and make big plays.

    Opposite him is Demaryius Thomas, a huge receiver with great speed but some football discipline issues. These guys are locks for the starting lineup.

    I see the Broncos carrying just five receivers this season, meaning one or two top-quality guys will be released. Gerell Robinson looks like a candidate for the practice squad, as does Greg Orton. Both need more time to develop.

    Next, I see Jason Hill getting the axe. Hill made a few plays in preseason, but didn’t show me enough to keep his roster spot. He also doesn’t have the experience and history with Peyton Manning that the “slot machine” Brandon Stokley has. I am not sure Matthew Willis or Andre Caldwell are locks either. This group could go a number of ways.


    Starters: Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas

    Reserves: Andre Caldwell, Matthew Willis, Brandon Stokley

    Practice Squad: Gerell Robinson, Greg Orton

    Cut: Jason Hill

Offensive Line: 9 Players

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    The front five will stay intact as it’s likely that the starters from last season will be back for the Broncos: LT Ryan Clady, LG Zane Beadles, C J.D. Walton, RG Chris Kuper, RT Orlando Franklin.

    Chris Clark has probably been the most-talked-about reserve in this group for his versatility and was considered a possibility to start at RT if Kuper was moved to LG. But Kuper was hit with the injury bug, nixing that idea.

    Manny Ramirez has been playing for Kuper in his absence during the preseason and should stick with the team. C.J. Davis surpassed the rookie Philip Blake on the depth chart, but the Broncos will likely hang on to each of them.

    Ryan Harris has definitely lost a step. I think the Broncos cut him as he has been outplayed by Clark this offseason, and the Broncos have no room for dead weight.

    Adam Grant could find a spot on the practice squad as could Wayne Tribue.


    Starters: LT Ryan Clady, LG Zane Beadles, C J.D. Walton, RG Chris Kuper, RT Orlando Franklin

    Reserves: Chris Clark, Manny Ramirez, C.J. Davis, Philip Blake

    Practice Squad: Adam Grant, Wayne Tribue

    Cut: Ryan Harris, Tony Hills

Tight End: 2 Players

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    The tight end position is crowded.

    The Broncos brought in two veteran ends that figure to lock up the one spot. Joel Dreessen will start, and Jacob Tamme will back up. Virgil Green, the team’s best blocking end, will get the third spot. Green is suspended for the four games because he didn’t get the OK for use of his ADHD medicine with the NFL. He may open up a roster spot for someone on the team as he could be placed on the reserve/suspended list during his four games before being activated, but it won’t hold a spot for another TE.

    The others will find themselves at home or on the practice squad. John Fox might want to hold out a little longer on Julius Thomas, who as of now has been a draft bust with his limited receptions and then subsequent injury last season. I can envision the Broncos keeping just one TE on their practice squad.

    Starter: Joel Dreessen

    Backup: Jacob Tamme

    Suspended: Virgil Green

    Practice Squad/Cut: Julius Thomas, Cornelius Ingram

Running Back: 5 Players

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    As much of a headache he has been in his stay with the Broncos, I think Knowshon Moreno still finds a way to stick with Denver. If the team released Moreno, he would be snatched by another team in need during the wire waiver period. Moreno is a great blocking back that Denver can use to protect Manning during passing plays and has decent hands out of the backfield.

    Jeremiah Johnson may find his way back to the practice squad in 2012.


    Starter: TB Willis McGahee, FB Chris Gronkowski

    Backups: Lance Ball, Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno

    Practice Squad: Jeremiah Johnson

Quarterback: 2 Players

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    Caleb Hanie is gone. John Elway is goo-goo eyes about Brock Osweiler.

    If Manning goes down, the season ends, and Osweiler gets thrown in the fire early. Adam Weber will be back on the practice squad or off the team in 2012.

    Caleb Hanie was only the backup plan if the Broncos couldn’t get a decent quarterback in the draft. There is just too much competition at other positions for a third quarterback on the roster as crazy as that seems.


    Starter: Peyton Manning

    Backup: Brock Osweiler

    Practice Squad: Adam Weber

    Cut: Caleb Hanie

Defensive End: 4 Players

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    Even though they drafted Derek Wolfe as a defensive tackle, John Fox and Jack Del Rio liked him even better as a rushing defensive end for the Broncos. He played so well that after Jason Hunter went down, he earned a starting spot on the defense ahead of Robert Ayers. Ayers could be in trouble even making the squad this season.

    Last season’s draft pick Jeremy Beal looks like he has done enough to stick with the active roster this season as a reserve.


    Starters: Elvis Dumervil, Derek Wolfe

    Reserves: Jeremy Beal, Robert Ayers

    Practice Squad/Cut: Jamie Blatnick

Defensive Tackle: 5 Players

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    Defensive tackle is the most crowded position on defense for the Broncos.

    The most veteran players, DT Ty Warren and NT Justin Bannan, look like they have won starting jobs, but backing them up is a long line of players.

    Kevin Vickerson is fully recovered from injury and looks like he will stay with the team. This season’s draft pick Malik Jackson, who was brought in to play end, has been excelling inside at defensive tackle. Mitch Unrein has risen the depth chart and looks to be the backup nose tackle.

    Ben Garland might earn a spot on the practice squad because of his hustle and determination. Sealver Siliga could join him if he passes waivers.


    Starters: DT Ty Warren, NT Justin Bannan

    Backups: Kevin Vickerson, Mitch Unrein, Malik Jackson

    Practice Squad/Cut: Sealver Siliga, Ben Garland

Linebacker: 6 Players

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    This is the hardest position to call since there are so many players and no real standouts outside of the starters. Some of the players that make the 53-man roster may be released for the Broncos to pick up a player released from another team.

    Nate Irving played better this offseason, but I haven’t seen much out of Mike Mohamed. He could find his way back to the practice squad next season.

    Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking will likely fill the hole left by D.J. Williams, who is likely to be placed on the team’s suspended list with Virgil Green. Steven Johnson has an outside shot at the active roster over this year’s rookie, Danny Trevathan, who will join Mohamed on the practice squad.


    Starters: SLB Von Miller, MLB Joe Mays, WLB Wesley Woodyard

    Backups: Nate Irving, Steven Johnson, Keith Brooking

    Practice Squad/Cut: Mike Mohamed, Jerry Franklin, Danny Trevathan

Cornerback: 5 Players

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    Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter will start for the Broncos in 2012.

    Chris Harris has secured a spot on the active roster as well. Drayton Florence will likely back up Porter and play some in the nickel. Omar Bolden is an exciting player as a kickoff returner. He will also stick this season.

    Because of unfortunate injuries and unfair circumstances, Syd’Quan Thompson will probably be looking for new employment in 2012. The Broncos probably keep either Tony Carter or Joshua Moore on the practice squad.


    Starters: Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter

    Backups: Drayton Florence, Chris Harris, Omar Bolden

    Practice Squad/Cut: Joshua Moore, Tony Carter, Syd'Quan Thompson

Safety: 5 Players

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    Safety is another crowded position with a lot of talented players for the Broncos.

    They will likely keep David Bruton and Jim Leonhard, along with starters Rahim Moore and Mike Adams. Quinton Carter, who was hit by the injury bug during training camp also likely earns a spot, and the odd man out is Rafael Bush.

    Bush has been good on special teams and will likely be signed by another team. Duke Ihenacho should be headed for the practice squad.


    Starters: Rahim Moore, Mike Adams

    Backups: Jim Leonhard, Quinton Carter, David Bruton

    Practice Squad: Duke Ihenacho

    Cut: Rafael Bush


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    By my count I have 51 players on the active roster and too many players on the practice squad, which is good news for those guys.

    The extra two players include D.J. Williams and Virgil Green, who are both suspended to start the 2012 NFL season. However, I think the Broncos will try to get some better depth at linebacker to fill in for D.J. Williams after the cuts. So some of the players to make the cut could find themselves unemployed the day after surviving cuts.

    Here is a summary of the number of players per position.

    Offense: 23 players total

    Wide Receivers – 5 Players

    Offensive Line – 9 Players

    Tight End – 2 Players

    Running Back – 5 Players

    Quarterback – 2 Players


    Defense: 25 players total

    Defensive End – 4 Players

    Defensive Tackle – 5 Players

    Linebacker – 6 Players

    Cornerback – 5 Players

    Safety – 5 Players


    Special Teams – 3 Players

    Total: 51 Players