Ranking the Running Game Pt. 30: Denver Broncos

Jeff LittleSenior Writer IApril 6, 2008

Part 30 of a 32-part series; a running back position analysis of each franchise.

The Denver Broncos are coming off of a disappointing season with a 7-9 record that easily could’ve been a 4-12 record. When it comes to assessing blame for the7-9 season, coach Shanahan said it starts with him.

Understandably, the Broncos’ approach in free agency lately has left something to be desired, as several big-money investments on a plethora of free agents haven’t panned out. Denver hasn’t been aided by its draft selections, as only D.J. Williams remains on the team out of 28 players chosen from 2002-04.

That’s not good. The Broncos haven’t been big players in the free-agency market, but they’ll likely add a few components.

The Broncos have won just one postseason game in the past 10 years and will be coming off Mike Shanahan’s second losing season in his 13-year tenure.

Denver’s needs going into free agency and the draft are: DT, LB, OL, DE and S. The Broncos as a team rushed for 122.3 yards per game.


·        Travis Henry: 5-foot-9, 215 lbs, 167 Att., 691 Yards, 4.1 YPC Avg, 4 TDs

·        Selvin Young: 5-foot-11, 207 lbs, 140 Att., 729 Yards, 5.2 YPC Avg, 1 TD

·        Andre Hall: 5-foot-8, 212 lbs, 44 Att., 216 Yards, 4.9 YPC Avg, 2 TDs

·        Cecil Sapp: 5-foot-11, 229 lbs, 18 Att., 59 Yards, 3.3 YPC Avg, 2 TDs

·        Mike Bell: 6-foot, 225 lbs. Six Att., 3 Yards


Young was the starter at the end of the year because Henry never recovered from a knee injury, but this position is up in the air. The addition of Henry was supposed to provide the vision, cutback ability, and toughness that makes Denver’s zone-blocking scheme so lethal when operated properly.

Henry was brought in to be the workhorse; he recently restructured his contract to come back. The Broncos don’t think Young can be a 25-carry-a-game tailback, based on the injuries he had last year. Cecil Sapp, a solid and versatile performer, re-signed on March 20.

Bell fell out of favor with the coaching staff and off the radar after a promising rookie year. The Broncos will draft a running back in this draft, but have been known to never draft a runner in the first round. The Broncos find runners in the middle to late rounds in the draft.

A few good targets would be Central Florida’s Kevin Smith, Oklahoma’s Allen Patrick, Rutgers’ Ray Rice.

In the first round, the Broncos will target Vanderbilt’s LT Chris Williams however, a solid first-round ,for the Broncos would be DE Phillip Merling.

The Broncos have to address the safety position which is one of their most pressing needs due to the age of their starters at the position. Miami’s Kenny Phillips or Arkansas State’s Tyrell Johnson are good fits.

The question for Denver: Will the Broncos reach for a DT or S in the first round? Will they make a trade to shore up the DT and DE positions?