Denver Broncos: Projecting Their 4 Toughest Cuts
Whenever a team has as much talent as the Denver Broncos do, trimming the roster to 53 players is no easy task.
The Broncos are overflowing with talent on both sides of the ball, and they have lots of depth. They have 88 players right now, which means that 35 talented players will have to find work elsewhere.
But which players will be the toughest to cut? Let's find out.
Denver has options at punt returner in Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and Omar Bolden, but it doesn’t want to risk injuring a key contributor.
That’s where Burse comes in.
The rookie had two touchdowns in just 21 punt returns last year at Fresno State, and he didn’t fumble once. The Broncos had an issue with ball security in this department last year, so if Burse shows that he can hold onto the ball, he has a good chance to make the team.
However, the Broncos only carried five wide receivers last year, and one of them, Trindon Holliday, didn’t catch a pass. He was purely a return specialist, and he struggled. The Broncos might be cautious of carrying another player who is nothing more than a return specialist.
This is especially true because the team's five receivers appear to be set, thanks to the additions of Sanders and rookie Cody Latimer. Sanders has done well returning punts in the past, so the Broncos could let him return punts.
They did this with Eric Decker last year, and he protected the ball well in the playoffs. If the Broncos learn from that experience, they would carry just five wide receivers, allowing them to free up a spot elsewhere on the roster.
Unless Burse shows promise as a receiver or clearly proves to be the best option at return man, he will have trouble making the team.
After all, the Broncos already have possible slot receivers in Welker, Sanders, Jacob Tamme and Andre Caldwell, so Burse isn’t exactly unique in that way.
In short, unless he shows immense promise as a return man or receiver, he will be spending 2014 on the practice squad or on another team.
Rookie center Matt Paradis would be the epitome of a tough cut if the Broncos have to let him go.
The sixth-round pick out of Boise State has been commended for his intelligence and work ethic. He’s not the biggest or fastest player, but he has stuck around and was thought highly enough of by the Broncos to be drafted.
However, he will face an uphill battle to make the roster. The Broncos have Will Montgomery and Manny Ramirez at center, and they have other quality reserves such as Winston Justice, Michael Schofield and Vinston Painter.
All of those reserves seem to have a better chance to make the roster than Paradis.
Painter has had over a year to develop, so the 2013 sixth-round pick should be poised to make the team. As for their other players, Justice did a solid job as a reserve last year, Montgomery started at center and gave up just two sacks (according to Pro Football Focus) last year and Schofield was picked in the third round, almost assuredly cementing his roster status.
Unless Paradis beats Painter or Justice, the Broncos would likely have to sneak him onto the practice squad. Paradis is a talented player, so he might have trouble passing through waivers.
The Broncos don’t want to lose Paradis. However, they have so much talent on the offensive line that they might have to let him go.
Like Paradis, Josh Boyett was a sixth-round pick. He was picked by the Indianapolis Colts last year, and the Broncos added him to their practice squad two months after a September 2013 arrest led to the Colts releasing the University of Oregon defensive back.
Boyett has been plagued by injuries, but he’s always had talent. He had a great collegiate career, and he would have a good chance to make most NFL rosters. However, the Broncos have Rahim Moore, T.J. Ward, David Bruton, Quinton Carter, Duke Ihenacho and Omar Bolden at safety.
Ward, Moore and Bruton (the team’s special teams ace) are locks to make the team. Carter has a great chance, as he has impressed so far after two interceptions in the 2011 season.
Ihenacho showed immense potential as a run defender in 2013, so it would be hard to cut him. These five safeties are unlikely to get cut, and Bolden also has a chance.
PredominantlyOrange.com has praised his work and intensity during training camp, but there appears to be too much talent around him at safety.
He could definitely find a gig on another team, but he's unlikely to stick with Denver.
Kapri Bibbs and Juwan Thompson
The Broncos have seven running backs, and three of them were priority free agents after the NFL draft.
However, unless either C.J. Anderson or Ronnie Hillman, the second- and third-string running backs right now fail to make the team, at least two of the Broncos’ rookie backs will have to be cut (assuming the Broncos carry four RBs).
That leaves Kapri Bibbs, Brennan Clay and Juwan Thompson in competition. All three were undrafted free agents, and all three will get a chance to state their case.
Clay averaged 5.5 yards per carry in college, but he wasn’t a household name. He is known for blocking and catching passes well, however.
Thompson is a versatile, hardworking player who is willing to do anything. He’s also very capable in the passing game, but the 225-pound running back is no slouch as a power runner.
Bibbs scored 31 touchdowns in 2013, his only full season in college football. While his numbers were impressive, his Colorado State team often faced mediocre competition. He doesn’t have elite size or athleticism, but he has a nose for the end zone.
All three would bring something to the team, but Clay would bring the pass-blocking skills that current Broncos starter Montee Ball lacks. Clay's skill set, therefore, is unique.
Anderson, like Thompson, is a hardworking power back. Anderson, however, has already showcased himself in the preseason and in the regular season, so he has a better chance to make the roster than Thompson.
In fact, according to Denver radio talk show host Darren McKee, Anderson and Hillman are visibly performing better than their rookie counterparts. This doesn’t bode well for Thompson.
Ball, who set an FBS record with 39 touchdowns in 2011, was also phenomenal when it came to putting the ball in the end zone. Ball is penciled in as the starter, so Bibbs will have to show that he can do it all to make the team.
If the Broncos are lucky, they will be able to sneak the raw Bibbs and the model player Thompson onto the practice squad for development. However, they will have trouble finding a roster spot for them unless one can overtake Clay.