Setting Realistic Training Camp Expectations for Each Denver Broncos Rookie

Travis WakemanCorrespondent IIJuly 1, 2014

Setting Realistic Training Camp Expectations for Each Denver Broncos Rookie

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    JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos will be ready to open training camp later this month, and fans can expect to see one of the NFL's best teams take the field.

    But amongst known faces like Peyton Manning and Von Miller, there will also be some new ones: the 2014 rookie class.

    How will each rookie fit with the team's plans this coming season?

    The Broncos selected six players in the annual draft before bringing in a nice collection of undrafted free agents. Here, we'll take a look at what to expect from these players.

    Each rookie was given either a goal or an expectation for the coming season. While not every undrafted rookie is listed, those who have the best chance of making the final roster were included.

    So what can we expect from each of these players this season? Click forward to find out.

Bradley Roby, Cornerback

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    Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

    With many teams in the NFL going to a pass-heavy offense, big wide receivers are in high demand. Because of that, the position of cornerback is becoming more and more important each season.

    The Broncos saw firsthand how a great defense can be built from the outside-in when they were dominated by the Seattle Seahawk's physical secondary.

    Now, the Broncos appear ready to use that same approach.

    Roby is a very fast, talented cornerback who can be effective in both man-to-man and zone coverages. If he can become a starter from the opening game, the Broncos could combine him with Chris Harris and Aqib Talib to form a very strong secondary.

    Whether or not Roby is an immediate starter is a big question. To see flaws in Roby's game, just watch Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin dominate him in the Badgers' game against Ohio State last season.

    In Denver, Roby will have to show that he has improved his streaky play and won't give up the big play as often as he did in college, particularly in his last season.

    Fortunately for Roby, he will see one of the league's best passing offenses on a daily basis, giving him plenty of practice.

     

    Training Camp Goal: Shadow wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and show the coaching staff that he has the ability to stick with them.

     

    2014 Season Goal: Roby should have plenty of opportunities to make an impact as a rookie, but he needs to crack the starting lineup, even if it isn't in Week 1. If Roby starts at one cornerback position opposite Talib, it will allow the Broncos to use Harris as a nickelback, where he can be most effective.

    But that is only part of his goal. As a first-round pick, Roby will eventually be given the chance to start. On the field he needs to follow the model of veterans like Harris and Champ Bailey.

    He needs to do this by being an aggressive cornerback who isn't afraid to lower his head and make a tackle. Roby should strive for four interceptions and 40-50 tackles during his rookie campaign.

Cody Latimer, Wide Receiver

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    Cody Latimer was a luxury pick for the Broncos. They didn't really need him when they found him in the second round of the draft, but they took him because they could.

    Latimer is a big receiver with good hands. He is also highly skilled as a blocker. He will fit very well in Denver, but the best part is that they don't really need him to make an impact as a rookie.

    With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Julius Thomas, Peyton Manning has one of the best groups of players in the NFL to throw to.

    But just because the Broncos don't need Latimer doesn't mean they won't use him.

    The Broncos love giving their opponents too much to handle, and Latimer will allow them to do just that. However, his integration should progress gradually during his rookie season.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To become familiar with the offense in case a player goes down. It also wouldn't hurt if some of his run-blocking skills rub off on the rest of the receivers.

     

    2014 Season Goal: Latimer should be integrated into the offense slowly. Because the team has such a great wide receiving corps, Latimer should be allowed to soak up as much as he can in order to be even more effective in the future.

Michael Schofield, Offensive Lineman

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    In the third round of the draft, the Broncos found versatile offensive lineman Michael Schofield of Michigan sitting on the board.

    Schofield can play guard or tackle, and the Broncos could easily have him line up at either spot. But at 6'6" and 300 pounds, Schofield has what it takes to play tackle in the NFL.

    He is a strong, athletic player who is a stout run-blocker. The Broncos will also like his work ethic, and he should be in consideration to start at right tackle during training camp because of it.

    The Broncos got tremendous value with this third-round draft choice.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To challenge both Chris Clark and Winston Justice for the starting right tackle position.

     

    2014 Season Goal: To show enough progression to crack the starting lineup by season's end or to convince the organization that he is the right tackle of the future, much like running back Montee Ball did this past season.

     

Lamin Barrow, Linebacker

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    The Broncos took a conservative approach during this year's draft, but that doesn't mean it didn't go well. LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow seemingly fell right into their laps.

    Barrow is another player who figures to be more of a "project player" than an immediate starter, but he could certainly pay dividends down the road.

    During his last two seasons at LSU, Barrow made 195 tackles, including a total of 13 for a loss. He is athletic and aggressive. The Broncos will love the fact that he is also good in coverage.

    The Broncos will also have the ability to line Barrow up at inside or outside linebacker.

    Danny Trevathan was a sixth-round pick in 2012, and he is blossoming into one of the NFL's best young defensive players. There is absolutely no reason that Barrow can't follow in his footsteps.

    Barrow has a bright future in Denver.

     

    Training Camp Goal: The Broncos will have a crowded competition at the linebacker position, so Barrow needs to put on a performance that distances himself from the guys at the bottom of the depth chart.

     

    2014 Season Goal: Barrow just needs to take advantage of any opportunity he is given, but he must first become an effective special teams player to earn his keep in the NFL.

Matthew Paradis, Center

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Regardless of what some fans in Denver may say, Manny Ramirez is not the long-term answer at the center position. Whether Matt Paradis is or not remains to be seen.

    It may take a year or so before Paradis earns a starting role with the team, but he certainly has the tools to do it.

    At 6'3", 306 pounds, Paradis has a high football IQ and understands his assignments. He is a powerful run-blocker, and he is also very keen on blitzing opponents.

    Protecting Peyton Manning is the top priority in Denver, and Manning's relationship with his center has always been important. Because of that, Paradis probably won't see much playing time in 2014, so his goals should be set on the future.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the 53-man roster.

     

    2014 Season Goals: During the season, Paradis needs to be a sponge with any veteran, but especially guys like Manning and Ramirez. He also needs to work on developing chemistry with backup quarterback Brock Osweiler.

    Who knows, that may soon be the quarterback-center combination in Denver.

Corey Nelson, Linebacker

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    JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press

    Corey Nelson missed much of the 2013 season at Oklahoma, but he does show promise. Still, he will fight an uphill battle to make the team.

    As a fast player at the linebacker position, Nelson can also be a physical player who can cover space. But his ability to stay healthy will be something he'll have to overcome.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the final 53-man roster.

     

    2014 Season Goal: If Nelson makes the team or even the practice squad, he'll have to first show he can be durable. From there, he needs to become a solid cog on the special teams unit and work his way up the depth chart.

Isaiah Burse, Wide Receiver

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    For undrafted rookies, Denver is the place to be.

    Both Chris Harris and Steven Johnson have made the team as undrafted rookies in recent years, and this season several players have an excellent chance of duplicating that feat.

    At the forefront of that discussion is Isaiah Burse, an athletic wide receiver the team signed out of Fresno State.

    In 2013 Burse was one of Derek Carr's favorite targets, catching 100 passes. But it's his ability as a kick return specialist that will vault Burse into the ranks of the NFL.

    The Broncos lost Trindon Holliday to free agency this offseason, but Burse can replace him in the kick-return department and give the team much more than Holliday as an offensive player.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the final 53-man roster.

     

    2014 Season Goal:  To become one of the NFL's top kick-return men, but also to find a way into offensive sets as an X-factor type of player. The Broncos could create a gimmick play or two that involves Burse, taking advantage of his athleticism and explosiveness to catch the opposition off guard.

Kapri Bibbs, Running Back

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    Eric Draper/Associated Press

    Despite leading the nation with 31 rushing touchdowns in 2013, Kapri Bibbs has heard critics suggest he should've stayed in school for at least another year.

    Bibbs made the decision to enter the NFL draft and promptly went undrafted. The Broncos brought him in as a free agent and that could be a perfect spot for him.

    Denver has a sure thing in Montee Ball at running back, but behind him the waters are very murky. The team has three undrafted rookie running backs who could all make the case for a roster spot.

    Bibbs will get the chance to do that, but he will have to prove that his 2013 season at Colorado State was no fluke.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the final 53-man roster. In order to do that, Bibbs will need to show he can do two things: catch the ball out of the backfield and convert on short-yardage situations.

     

    2014 Season Expectation: Unless Bibbs dazzles in camp, the practice squad seems like a much more likely destination for him. If Denver isn't interested in his services, maybe another team in need of a running back will be.

Brennan Clay, Running Back

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Much like Kapri Bibbs, Brennan Clay found himself in a great situation following the draft—despite not being picked.

    Clay brings two very important skills to the Broncos: pass catching and pass protection. He is very adept in both areas.

    These skills will get him on the field with the chance to compete for an open slot. As we've already touched on, the Broncos don't have a ton of experience in their running back group, even if they are loaded with potential.

    Clay may actually have a slight advantage over Bibbs in making the final roster.

    Clay can catch the ball and protect the quarterback better than Bibbs. The Broncos also have running backs similar to Bibbs, but Clay would be more of a versatile scatback player whom they could use on third downs.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the final roster as the No. 4 running back. 

     

    2014 Season Expectation: Clay will give it a great shot to make the team this season, and he should stick around until the final wave of cuts. After he is let go, the team will bring him back with one of their spots on the practice squad.

    With a little more fine-tuning, he could be a part of the active roster in 2015.

Juwan Thompson, Running Back

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    There is just so much to like about Juwan Thompson's game.

    Whether it's his tough running style, his pass-catching ability or his familiarity with special teams, Thompson seems to be able to do everything well.

    While he certainly doesn't seem to be the type of player who will carry the ball 25 times a game—at least not at this time—he does have a strong set of intangibles.

    Thompson is a smart, physically gifted player who seems to be a natural receiver coming out of the backfield. At Duke, he was also a special teams captain.

    Thompson will be a tough player to ignore in camp and preseason games this year, and that could lead to a spot on the final roster.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the final 53-man roster.

     

    2014 Season Expectation: The Broncos appear to have at least one spot available for one of their undrafted rookie running backs to snag. Expect that player to be Thompson. His versatility will be too much for the team to pass on.

    During the season Thompson may be listed as inactive for many of the team's games, but in the Broncos organization, he should develop into a very useful role player over the next few seasons.

Shaquil Barrett, Linebacker

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Shaquil Barrett is a player whom the Broncos can use as either a linebacker or a pass-rushing defensive end. With a guy like DeMarcus Ware on the roster to show how it's done, Barrett may be in the right place.

    Barrett will be one of the most interesting players to watch as we head into the season. He has the ability to make plays, and it will be interesting to see how he competes with the logjam of players at the linebacker position.

    NFL teams can never have too many players who can rush the quarterback, and Barrett can do just that. It will be tough for Denver to part ways with him.

     

    Training Camp Goal: To make the final 53-man roster.

     

    2014 Season Expectation: Currently, the Broncos have 13 linebackers on their roster. Clearly, they won't be able to keep them all.

    For Barrett, he could easily be in a head-to-head battle with Lerentee McCray for a spot on the roster. McCray was having a very good camp last year before being injured in the final game of preseason. The competition between him and Barrett will be very fierce.

    In the end the nod goes to McCray, with Barrett being assigned to the practice squad.