7 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make Denver Broncos' Final 53-Man Roster

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2014

7 Dark-Horse Candidates to Make Denver Broncos' Final 53-Man Roster

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    The Denver Broncos will report for training camp in less than three weeks, and the team will officially get started on its path back to the Super Bowl.

    As with any other training camp, the positional battles and the players fighting to make the roster are generally the biggest stories.

    We all know guys such as Peyton Manning, Montee Ball, Demaryius Thomas and DeMarcus Ware are guaranteed spots on the roster, but what about those who aren't?

    What about the players who will have to fight and scratch to keep their NFL dreams alive?

    The Broncos are one of the best teams in the league at evaluating talent, giving each player on the roster a long look.

    An undrafted rookie has made the final roster in each of the last three seasons.

    Here, we take a look at seven players who could go from players many fans have never heard of to the newest member of the defending AFC champions.

Brennan Clay, Running Back

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    JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press

    The Broncos will go into training camp with at least one—and perhaps two—spots to be had at the running back position.

    Brennan Clay will be one of three undrafted rookies vying for a spot behind Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson.

    The running back who can protect the quarterback and catch the ball out of the backfield the best may very well be the man who gets the roster spot, and Clay is very good at doing both.

    Clay isn't a fast, exciting player. But he is hard-working and consistent. In addition, he has experience on special teams returning kicks as well as lining up at wide receiver in college.

    Clay could be a proficient third-down back in the NFL.

Kapri Bibbs, Running Back

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    Kapri Bibbs will be a favorite of Broncos fans this summer, partially because he played one season at Colorado State.

    While there, Bibbs led the country with 31 rushing touchdowns. He has good vision and is a tough runner. However, with the great year he had in 2013, he left a lot of questions.

    Can he be a reliable pass-catcher? Can he pick up blitzing defenders in pass coverage? Can he sustain the type of production he had in college at the NFL level despite just one season at CSU?

    If Bibbs answers all of these questions with a resounding "yes," then a spot on the final roster could belong to him.

    If not, the Broncos may want to keep him by placing him on the practice squad, where he could develop into a more well-rounded player. The talent is certainly there.

Juwan Thompson, Running Back

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    Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

    Juwan Thompson will be a relatively unknown player in training camp after spending his years as a college player at Duke, but he is arguably the most complete undrafted running back the Broncos brought in.

    Thompson is a tough runner, but he is also a very good receiver out of the backfield. In college, he played for David Cutcliffe, who was also the college coach of Peyton Manning at Tennessee.

    Cutcliffe believes in Thompson, and you can bet he's told the Broncos what he can do.

    Our man Juwan Thompson!! Go JT!! Make it in Denver! This guy can play ball!! He can do it all!! pic.twitter.com/vVr0Jq9KCJ

    — David Cutcliffe (@DavidCutcliffe) May 23, 2014

    Thompson could make the final roster due to his versatility alone. At Duke, he was captain of the special teams and even played linebacker for a brief time when the team was plagued by injuries.

    Thompson is a very intelligent player who will make a strong push for a roster spot.

Isaiah Burse, Wide Receiver

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    JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press

    It will be very hard—if not impossible—for the Broncos to cut Isaiah Burse.

    At Fresno State, Burse flashed a plethora of skills both as a wide receiver and kick returner. He is very fast and can beat defenses in a variety of ways.

    As a receiver, Burse has good hands and solid ball skills. As a return man, he can break a game open.

    After losing Trindon Holliday in free agency, the Broncos need a new return man. Why not use one who can also complement the passing game?

    Burse is a strong bet to make the final roster.

Gerell Robinson, Tight End

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    JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press

    During the previous two seasons, Gerell Robinson has made a strong push to make the final roster as a wide receiver, being named one of the team's final cuts both times.

    This year, Robinson will try to make the team as a tight end.

    Following the breakout year of Julius Thomas in 2013, the Broncos will be looking for the right players to sit behind him on the depth chart.

    The performance of Robinson could decide the fate of veterans Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme.

    Robinson has the skills to make the roster. He has very good hands and is dangerous after the catch. As a wide receiver at Arizona State, Robinson averaged 18.1 yards per catch on his 77 receptions.

    The man throwing him the ball was current Denver backup quarterback Brock Osweiler.

Kenny Anunike, Defensive End

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    JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press

    You've heard the theory before, and it hasn't changed—you can never have too many pass-rushers in the NFL.

    Kenny Anunike is another undrafted free agent the Broncos brought in from Duke. At Duke, he was a menace to opposing quarterbacks.

    As a senior, Anunike racked up six sacks while having 13.5 tackles for a loss. On top of that, he forced a fumble and even blocked a kick.

    There aren't many positions to be had on the Denver defense, especially for an undrafted rookie, but Anunike may be able to do enough for the team to consider having more depth along the defensive line.

Bryn Renner, Quarterback

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    The Broncos kept three quarterbacks on the roster last year, and if they choose to do so again this year, there should be a spirited competition for that third spot between Bryn Renner and Zac Dysert.

    Renner doesn't have excellent athletic ability or a strong arm, but he makes up for that by being an extremely smart player who understands the game.

    At North Carolina, Renner completed 66.5 percent of his passes and threw for over 8,000 yards. He can make all the short-to-intermediate throws and is very good at taking what the defense gives him in order to move the chains.

    Dysert will have his hands full with Renner if he wants to remain a part of the team going forward.