With the number 12 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos pick…Knowshon Moreno? Didn’t they just sign Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, and LaMont Jordan?
Yes they did, but, before you accuse the Broncos of overcrowding their backfield, take a look at Josh McDaniel’s former team, the New England Patriots. It has become abundantly clear that McD has brought the Patriot Way to Denver, and the running back position is no different.
That being said, the Broncos now have six running backs on their roster; Knowshon Moreno, Buckhalter, Arrington, Jordan, Peyton Hillis, and Ryan Torain. Torain, however, with all of his injury concerns, will be hard-pressed to claim a roster spot. That leaves five guys fighting for playing time.
Let’s see what their roles will be, and put them in the terms of McDaniel’s Patriot Offense:
Knowshon Moreno: Moreno, being the 12th overall pick in the draft, will become the number one running back in Denver. He was believed by many to be the best back in the draft, as he has the ability to run between the tackles, turn the corner and run outside, and catch passes with ease.
Patriot Comparison: He will become what the Patriots had hoped Laurence Maroney would, a primary back who can run and catch the ball with the best of them.
Correll Buckhalter: Buckhalter may have changed teams this season, but he has not changed his role at all. He will be the exact same guy he was in Philadelphia, as his job will be to come in to give Knowshon some rest.
Patriot Comparison: Buckhalter will fit into the Sammy Morris role, as Morris was the guy who came in to give Maroney some rest (when Maroney was healthy).
J.J. Arrington: Arrington will have no trouble getting touches in Denver, as he is a very good receiver out of the backfield, as well as a dynamic special teams player. He will see a lot of touches catching passes out of the backfield, and should become one of Denver’s top return men.
Patriot Comparison: Arrington will fill the role of Kevin Faulk, a player who New England loves. He is a great backfield receiver, and a solid return man, which is what McD expects Arrington to do.
Peyton Hillis: Peyton Hillis is a perfect example of a combo back, a guy capable of playing either the running back or fullback position. In McDaniel’s new offense, expect Hillis to take the role of the FB, being the primary lead blocker in the run game, while also receiving passes out of the backfield.
Patriot Comparison: He compares to Heath Evans, who played this exact role for the Patriots the last two seasons.
LaMont Jordan: This signing was a puzzling one, as Jordan has never really showed anything special in his NFL career. But, he has been an adequate option in short yardage situations, so expect him to see limited carries as a short yardage back in Denver,
Patriot Comparison: Jordan compares to himself, as he played this role in New England last season.
So, in conclusion, while the Broncos backfield seems like it will be overcrowded in 2009, do not be alarmed. The Broncos do have five guys back there, but they are all expected to fit in to their own respective roles. With the addition of Moreno, look for the Broncos to have, minimum, a top-15 rushing attack next season.