The Broncos once again were drafting near the end of the first round in 2013. A real value fell to them at 28th overall, so they selected defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (North Carolina). This move was a strong one as Williams was not expected to be on the board at the time of the Broncos' selection.
Williams had a rough start to his rookie season. Early in the year, Williams would guess the wrong shoulder to attack after the snap. After guessing wrong, Williams would then try to run around his blocker to the play. That may have worked in college, but he was late and out of position doing that as a pro.
After starting defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson was lost for the season due to a hip injury in the Week 12 game against the Patriots, Williams was thrust into a larger role. As a starter next to veteran Terrance Knighton, Williams began to stand out. He learned how to anticipate plays better, was more forceful when creating interior pressure and kept his strength at the point of attack as a run defender.
In the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Broncos added running back Montee Ball (Wisconsin). With Knowshon Moreno moving on in free agency, the Broncos are turning to Ball as their lead back.
Like Williams, Ball started his rookie season slowly. Fumbling and pass-protection problems kept him on the bench as he split time with Ronnie Hillman as the primary back behind Moreno. After a Week 7 fumble near the goal line against the Colts, Hillman was essentially shelved for the season, and Ball got a larger role.
He took the ball and ran with it—literally. Ball finished the season showing better determination between the tackles and better patience when bouncing a run outside.
Another player to highlight here is third-round pick cornerback Kayvon Webster (South Florida). He is a big hitter who loves to initiate contact and intimidate an opponent. Webster worked well as a sub-package player to begin the season, but as Champ Bailey was fighting through a Lisfranc injury, Webster was asked to do more. He struggled with this larger role, and Webster was regularly targeted by opposing quarterbacks. In 2014, Webster will compete to be the team’s nickel corner behind Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.
Other players like outside linebacker Quanterus Smith (Western Kentucky), offensive tackle Vinston Painter (Virginia Tech) and quarterback Zac Dysert (Miami, OH) will have to wait for an opportunity with the Broncos.
It’s too early to truly put an accurate grade on this class, but at this point, it looks pretty solid.
Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. Transaction history provided by ProSportsTransactions.com. Contract information provided by Spotrac.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey.