JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press
We’ll see Montee Ball as the lead back this season. He could be in for a fine campaign after finishing his rookie season with strong statistics in the final six weeks of the year. He has added weight in anticipation of a larger role, and the team is ready to see what he can do as the main man.
Behind Ball, the competition at running back is wide open. The Broncos have several options, and the primary backup spot is up for grabs.
C.J. Anderson is going to face the toughest competition from Ronnie Hillman. Those two should be the favorites to win the second- and third-string jobs.
Anderson has the size to bang it between the tackles. His lower-body strength allows him to push the pile, and he’s arguably the only true power back on the roster. He has a good initial burst, and he can get to the second level of the defense faster than some think.
Hillman might still be the fastest player on the team. He can make plays as a change-of-pace back with his speed and agility in the open field. He has trouble holding onto the rock, and fumbling problems cost him the starting job last year.
If the Broncos want a backup behind Ball who could be a full-time starter, then Anderson is the best answer. If the team wants a backup who has a different skill set from Ball, then perhaps Hillman is the right call.
In addition to Anderson and Hillman, the Broncos have a trio of undrafted rookie backs who could make the final roster.
Kapri Bibbs is an efficient runner from Colorado State who has a nose for the end zone. He’s inexperienced as a receiver out of the backfield, but he came from a college offense that audibled frequently.
Brennan Clay is a speedy back from Oklahoma. He’s been a standout player as a runner in open space and a receiver out of the backfield in minicamp. He has the speed and agility to rack up big yards, and he’s a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
Juwan Thompson has a fine all-around skill set. He’s a big back who can be capable between the tackles. He is a great receiving option out of the backfield with soft hands and the concentration to be a reliable receiver. He is also fantastic as a pass-protector.
A dark-horse candidate to keep an eye on is Jerodis Williams. The second-year pro was an undrafted free agent for the Minnesota Vikings last year, and now he’s trying to make his way with the Broncos.
He has looked good when catching the ball at minicamp. His best asset might be his change-of-direction ability. He can make cuts at speed and doesn’t lose much momentum when making defenders miss.
Ball security and pass protection may be the two biggest keys for anyone who is looking to back up Ball in 2014.