There are a bunch of new names on Denver’s roster this year. For some new players, training camp symbolizes the start of a new career. For others. it’s just another long day under the Colorado sun.
The purpose of this article is to analyze the current and possible starters for each position for the 2009 campaign. Part one of this two part series, will focus on the offensive side of the team.
The leader of the pack. The brains behind the brawn. The “Big Cheese” as they would say in Green Bay. The quarterback is the most important position in football. No other player touches the ball as much as the quarterback and who ever has the ball, has the power.
For the Denver Broncos, there are three new faces at quarterback; Kyle Orton, Chris Simms, and rookie Tom Brandstater.
As of now Kyle Orton is the front runner to be this year’s starter. Orton is a good game manager and positive locker room personality. As long as he stays level headed and follows the coach’s plan, he should do just fine as the starter this year.
Chris Simms is definitely a dark horse in this competition. He has an NFL pedigree and played very well in his first years at Tampa Bay. However, Simms suffered a season-ending injury in game three of the 2006 season, in the form of a ruptured spleen. Simms hasn’t been the same since. Could a change in scenery restart his career?
Tom Brandstater was a sixth round pick in this year’s draft. He has a lot of upside and will look to compete for the second string spot in this year’s Bronco offense. However, it’s more likely that he will become the third string quarterback and walk the sidelines with a clipboard this year.
If he doesn’t show any potential, the Broncos will send him to the practice squad and give him another chance to show up next year.
Offensive line has always been a source of constant production for the Broncos. Their zone blocking scheme has become the scourge of the NFL, with many challengers and champions. Regardless the perception is of this scheme, it works. McDaniels looks to capitalize off of the success of the zone blocking scheme and infuse it into his own spread offense scheme.
There won’t be any changes to the starting five of the offensive line for Denver this year. The changes in the depth chart will likely be in the second and third string spots, which lay out the offensive line of the future. Ben Hamilton and Casey Wiegmann are getting up there in years. This leaves two future starting spots open in the next coming years.
Most likely Wiegmann will retire next year, which would move Ben Hamilton to center and leave the left guard spot open for young players like: Corey Lichtensteiger, Seth Olsen, and Pat Murray. Blake Schlueter will slide into the second string center spot and be groomed to start within a couple of years.
The Broncos have three returning players in Daniel Graham, Tony Scheffler, and Jeb Putzier, and one rookie in Richard Quinn.
Daniel Graham looks to start again on the strong side. I see Richard Quinn as being a better fit at weak side tight end in two tight end sets for running downs. Tony Scheffler would be the better choice at weak side tight end, or lining up in the slot, in passing downs.
At this point I see this being a 2A/2B situation for Richard Quinn and Tony Scheffler. Both provide a service for what the offense needs in certain game situations. Unfortunately, I think that Jeb Putzier will be relegated strictly to special teams, or cut before the season starts.
The Broncos start this year’s mini camp with seven tailbacks on their roster. They are as follows: J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter, Peyton Hillis, LaMont Jordan, Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Torain, and Darius Walker.
The starting running back has to be Knowshon Moreno; hands down. If he isn’t the starter, Bronco Nation will HAVE to question McDaniel’s choice to pick Moreno at No. 12 in this year’s draft. That being said, I think he’s good enough to win the starting spot easily and he should solidify the Broncos’ running attack.
Correll Buckhalter should be the second string running back without any problems. Lamont Jordan and Ryan Torain will battle to be used as the third string running back and in short yardage situations.
J.J. Arrington and Darius Walker will challenge each other for the “speed back” position in this offense and be returners on special teams.
Peyton Hillis is the obvious starter at fullback and should be considered the premier line pounder and short yardage back in the Broncos’ running attack.
Depending on how McDaniels’ offense is setup, all of these players could make the squad, because they offer distinct abilities for certain game type situations.
However, I also see the following players on the bubble if McDaniels feels he doesn’t need as many specialists in the back field: Lamont Jordan, Ryan Torain, J.J. Arrington, and Darius Walker. In my opinion, Ryan Torain has a mountain of upside and should make the squad this year and possibly challenge Correll Buckhalter for the second string spot next year.
The Broncos have a solid receiver squad returning this year in Brandon Marshal, Eddie Royal, and Brandon Stokley. Hopefully, the league’s silence on Brandon Marshall’s possible suspension means he will be safe for this year. If not, then Jabar Gaffney and Chad Jackson will have the chance to start along side Eddie Royal for a couple of games.
Brandon Stokley is still a premier slot receiver in the NFL, but has been hampered with injuries as of late. The slot receiver position is Stokley’s to lose at this point, but look for newly acquired rookie Kenny McKinley to put a lot of pressure on the veteran for the starting slot position.
With so many new faces at camp this year, the offensive competition looks to heat up at the tailback position. McDaniels has enough talented personnel to put out the best team he can this year. The Broncos offense should be exciting to watch this year.
Here are my current predictions for the 2009 Denver Broncos starting offense:
Quarter Back Kyle Orton
Left Tackle Ryan Clady
Left Guard Ben Hamilton
Center Casey Wiegmann
Right Guard Chris Kuper
Right Tackle Ryan Harris
Tight End 1 Daniel Graham
Tight End 2 Richard Quinn
Running Back Knowshon Moreno
Full Back Peyton Hillis
Wide Receiver 1 Brandon Marshall
Wide Receiver 2 Eddie Royal
Slot Reciever Brandon Stokley