2010 Denver Broncos: Projected Depth Chart

Scott WilsonCorrespondent IMay 7, 2010

2010 Denver Broncos: Projected Depth Chart

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    This Depth Chart will be updated throughout the off-season and training camp as changes, position moves, and a clearer picture of the "starters" emerge.

    Head Coach: Josh McDaniels

    Offensive Coordinator: Mike McCoy
    Defensive Coordinator: Don "Wink" Martindale
    Special Teams Coordinator: Mike Priefer

    Offensive Line Coach: Clancy Barone
    Defensive Line Coach: Wayne Nunnely
    Strength & Conditioning Coach: Rich Tuten

    Quarterbacks Coach: Ben McDaniels
    Runningbacks Coach: Eric Studesville
    Wide Receivers Coach: Adam Gase
    Tight Ends Coach: Bob Ligashesky
    Secondary Coach: Ed Donatell

    Linebackers Coach: Roman Phifer (Assistant)
    Defensive Assistants: Craig Aukerman & Jay Rodgers
    Special Teams Assistant: Keith Burns

Quarterback

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    # 8 Kyle Orton, 6-4 225
    # 9 Brady Quinn, 6-3 235
    #15 Tim Tebow, 6-3 245

    Selling jerseys doesn't equate to the starting job, at least not just yet. Kyle Orton still is the most experienced QB in the system and is the most familiar with the rest of the offense.

    Orton had a solid season last year while adjusting to new surroundings, so it should be expected for him to step up in 2010. He played through injuries, to himself, and his offensive line; so a healthy year should result in improved performance.

    His next contract depends on it (whether with the Broncos or not), and that is usually enough to get the best of any NFL player.

    The battle for No. 2 on the depth chart has already begun. Brady Quinn was bought on the cheap, while Tebow as snagged after giving up three high picks.

    Quinn has some advantages being familiar with the type of offense and with more NFL experience. Sometimes experience doing it the wrong way shouldn't count in your favor, so there will be pressure on Brady to redeem himself.

    Tebow will certainly see the field this season, whether that is in special packages, holding for field goals, or as a true No. 2 QB will depend on how he compares against Quinn in practice. Coach McDaniels has indicated that he has borrowed from the Florida playbook over the years, so that should help Tebow's adjustment to the NFL game.

    Teams usually only carry two QB's on their active roster, as Brandstater knows from being placed on the practice squad last season while Orton and Chris Simms manned the QB position.

    The Broncos will be in a roster number crunch with three possible QB's on the active roster this season, and certainly the writing is on the wall for Brandstater.

    With a live arm and a season of NFL practices under his belt, he could be auditioning for a job somewhere in the NFL. Update: Brandstater was released by the Broncos and now will try to latch on somewhere else in the NFL.

Running Back

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    #27 Knowshon Moreno, 5-11 210
    #28 Correll Buckhalter, 6-0 231
    #26 LenDale White, 6-1 235

    Longhsots:
    #40 Toney Baker, 5-10 225
    #35 Lance Ball, 5-9 200
    #29 Bruce Hall, 5-11 205

    Sophomore surge or slump? Knowshon needs to make his mark this season to live up to his first-round selection last season. Moreno showed flashes at times, but didn't always have great holes to run through.

    Many times, Moreno didn't commit to his running lane and was swallowed up in the trenches. Hopefully, his confidence and endurance will both last the whole season this year.

    Buckhalter broke some brilliant runs and seemed to be a more reliable yard-churner last year, but injuries wore him down. Hopefully, he brings his perfect complementary change-of-pace style to set defenses on their heels, but he is past that unmagical age for running backs.

    Stealing a player away from a division rival is always great, but the addition of Kolby Smith to the mix at running back could be a stealthy and shrewd move from the Broncos. The ex-Chief has been an intriguing prospect in the NFL for several years but was eclipsed in KC. While only gaining 3.3 YPC may look below average, factoring in the KC O-line should make that number more respectable. His career game came in 2007 with 150 yards and 2 TD's...against...the Raiders! Welcome to Denver Mr. Smith!  And just as quickly...Goodbye Mr. Smith as the Broncos release him in order to pick up...

    Locally raised LenDale White will look to make an impact (hopefully a positive one) as a member of the Mile High team that he knows so well.  The Broncos definitely could use some power running in their attack, but we'll wait and see if LenDale can stop the revolving door of running backs in the Denver backfield.

    With Peyton Hillis now a Brown, the Broncos brought in a tough hard-nosed player for the little-used but valuable fullback role. Kyle Eckel was one of my favorite collegiate athletes to watch, when he carried the rock in Navy's triple-option offense he looked like a rugby player at a soccer match. I am glad he is a member of the Broncos, even if we won't see him too much. Update: he was designated as "Waived/Injured" by the Broncos.

Flanker - Wide Receiver

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    #10 Jabar Gaffney, 6-2 200
    #87 Eric Decker, 6-2 215
    Longshot:
    #82 Alric Arnett, 6-0 189

    Gaffney will take over the No. 1 spot at WR from Brandon Marshall, at least until Bay Bay Thomas is ready to assume that role in the NFL (which could be right from the start).

    Jabar was a solid performer for the Broncos who saw consistent targets throughout 2009. He probably "fits" better as a Split End, and will re-assume that role if/when Bay-Bay is ready.

    Gaffney had a very solid season in 2009 but failed to find the end zone consistently, with only two scores, and that will certainly be the main concern for a team trying to replace B-Marsh.

    Eric Decker has all the tools to be a great possession WR in the NFL and the Broncos will hope that he can contribute right away and push for playing time.

    His tall frame and good hands should help improve the ball distribution this season, while also moving the chains. Decker wearing No. 87 will certainly stoke the hearts of Broncos fans.

Split End - Wide Receiver

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    #88 Demaryius Thomas, 6-3 229
    #11 Kenny McKinley, 6-0 183
    #84 Brandon Lloyd, 6-0 194
    Longshots:
    #12 Matthew Willis, 6-0 190

    The Broncos didn't draft Demaryius with their first actual selection in the first round to not expect him to start right away. Bay-Bay is stilll recovering from a foot injury, but expects to be ready to go in the OTA's.

    His overall game will fit very well for the Broncos, as he is a big tall WR who can go up and make the catch, while also providing that deep threat.

    Kenny McKinley and Brandon Lloyd are both talented players who have a lot to prove in training camp.

    McKinley didn't quite live up to his college resume in his rookie year, but very few WR's are able to do that. I expect him to be much better prepared to fight for a top roster spot this season.

    Lloyd had his moments in 2009 for the Broncos, but they were few and far between.

    Willis' best chance to make the roster may be as a return man, but by all accounts his off-season and early practice reports have been extremely favorable, let's hope it continues.

Slot Receiver

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    #19 Eddie Royal, 5-10 180
    #14 Brandon Stokley, 6-0 192
    Longshots:
    #17 Patrick Honeycutt, 5-9 172

    Eddie Royal had an up and down 2009 season, mostly down unfortunately. Coach McDaniels and Eddie expect to have #19 be a much more active part of the offense in 2010, thankfully.

    A long rumored move to a full-time slot position should be in the works for Eddie, who has great hands and is an elusive and shifty route runner.

    Brandon Stokley has become a fan favorite in Denver for his sticky hands and tough bounce-back play while manning those dangerous underneath routes.

    However, if Royal does make a permanent move to the spot in the slot, Brandon could be in a tough battle for his roster spot.

Tight End

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    #89 Daniel Graham, 6-3 257
    #81 Richard Quinn, 6-4 255
    #85 Marquez Branson, 6-2 241
    Longshots:
    #86 Nathan Overbay, 6-5 270
    #83 Riar Geer, 6-4 250

    Graham certainly has his roster spot locked up as the team's best all-around TE threat.

    Quinn will need to live up to his second-round draft choice from 2009 as the blocking specialist, while Branson hopes to hold off undrafted free agents Nathan Overbay and local-boy Riar Geer as a secondary pass-catching threat.

Left Tackle

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    #78 Ryan Clady, 6-6 325
    #74 Ryan Harris, 6-5 300
    #77 Tyler Polumbus, 6-8 300

    Clady needs no introduction as a Pro-Bowl Left Tackle and still nowhere near reaching his prime. The only concern now is whether or not he will be healthy when the season starts.

    If not, expect Ryan Harris to move over to his college position. Behind Harris, the Broncos have a few options with Polumbus and possibly even rookie Zane Beadles. Polumbus is a natural left tackle who was forced to switch sides in his first NFL action, but that experience should only serve him well this year.

    The edge would probably go to the more experienced players for this vital role, but Broncoland's collective prayers will be for a speedy and complete recovery for Clady!

Left Guard

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    #68 Zane Beadles, 6-4 305
    #70 Seth Olsen, 6-5 308
    #71 Russ Hochstein, 6-4 305
    #69 Eric Olsen, 6-4 305

    This is where things get interesting. All of the above players could play many positions, but I think this is where they will compete the best. Seth Olsen "redshirted" last year while learning the ropes for an NFL lineman; while the Broncos invested heavily in interior linemen in the draft.

    OK, I finally have placed the Broncos 2nd round pick here. Zane Beadles will see some time at LG. Zane is a great all-around addition to the Broncos line, but it looks like he is being given the first chance to take the LG spot. He played some guard in college before locking down the Utes' LT position. His athleticism and smarts should help him transition to the role in the NFL.

    Olsen seems to have impressed the coaches since last season in practices, but a group of "new blood" will present a new challenge for playing time this season. Seth is certainly a very capable player and will help add quality depth to the interior.

    Hochstein is recovering from a knee injury and is the definition of "versatility" for an offensive lineman. He has played basically everywhere along the line, but stepped in at LG last season when Ben Hamilton was benched.

    Eric Olsen was drafted out of Notre Dame as a center, but Coach McDaniels immediately mentioned that he would be a "guard who can play center". Isn't that code word for "Left Guard"?

Center

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    #50 J.D. Walton, 6-3 305
    #62 Dustin Fry, 6-3 326
    #71 Russ Hochstein, 6-4 305

    J.D. Walton was highly regarded as the second-best center in this year's draft class. For more info on him, please check out my article: 2010 NFL Draft: Broncos Most Valuable Draft Pick (links not allowed on slideshows). I fully expect Walton to win the starters job at the pivot.

    Dustin Fry will battle with Walton and Hochstein for the center job, and he will have to make a statement to crack the active roster if he cannot win the job outright.

    This isn't a knock on Fry, it just is a reflection on the versatility of the rest of the linemen on the roster, and the fact that anything more than nine players on the active roster will be highly doubtful.

Right Guard

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    #73 Chris Kuper,6-4 303
    #70 Seth Olsen, 6-5 308
    #69 Eric Olsen, 6-4 305

    Kuper returns to his starting gig at RG after signing his one-year tender deal, and then a lucrative 6-year contract. His continued progression and stability are an underrated (not underpaid any longer) but valuable cog in the wheel for the offensive line to perform better in 2010.

    There will certainly be added emphasis on this position's pass-blocking ability whenever Mr. Tebow is in the game, as he is a left-handed passer.

    McChesney will face an uphill battle to make the final roster with the added depth coming in from the draft. UPDATE: Matt McChesney has retired after a "freak" injury.

Right Tackle

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    #74 Ryan Harris, 6-5 300
    #68 Zane Beadles, 6-4 305
    #77 Tyler Polumbus, 6-8 300
    #73 Kirk Barton, 6-6 300
    #67 D'Anthony Batiste, 6-4 314
    Longshots:
    #73 Paul Duncan, 6-7 315

    Harris should return 100% from the toe injuries that sidetracked his 2009 season. As long as there are no lingering effects for him this year, we should see a big improvement in the overall pass protection of the unit.

    Ryan could also be in the position of protecting the "franchise" whenever Tebow takes snaps, as his blindside will be the Right Tackle's job to secure.

    Tyler Polumbus stepped in last year when Harris went down but he struggled to adjust. In the offseason the Broncos invested a high draft pick in Beadles and also picked up 10-year veteran Maurice Williams, so expect the No. 2 spot to be an open competition. UPDATE: Maurice was released from the Broncos.

    Kirk Barton was awarded to the Broncos off waivers and brings one year of NFL experience and two and half years of Big Ten experience with him. At this point he is a "bubble player" and will need to make the most of the next couple of weeks to make the team.

    Batiste could factor in at depth for RT or RG, but his best chance to make the roster will unfortunately be due to an injured player not able to suit up.

Kicker & Punter

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    # 5 Matt Prater, 5-10 187

    Prater has no competition to start training camp, so this one is an easy call. Aside from that, Prater has performed well when called upon and has the leg to kick long field goals. His outstanding kickoffs, however, make him a great asset for the Broncos special teams.

    # 4 Britton Colquitt, 6-3 204

    Tough call between a Colquitt family member and the "Jumbotron" punter. Update: Trapasso was waived by the Broncos.

Long Snapper

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    #66 Lonie Paxton, 6-2 281

    You never hear his name called on game days, and that is a good thing for this vital member of the special teams unit and Josh McDaniels favorite.

Cheerleaders

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    Do you really need an explanation?

Left Defensive End

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    #99 Justin Bannan, 6-3 310
    #98 Ryan McBean, 6-5 297
    #97 LeKevin Smith, 6-3 308

    Loaded with big boys from the Big 12 (Colorado, Okie State, and Nebraska) the Left End position should be one of talent and depth this season. Bannan comes home to Colorado after proving himself the last several years in Baltimore's hybrid defense.

    He played Nose Tackle and End while there and became known for his strength against the run. He will immediately step in as the No. 1 at this vital position, and help out a squad that struggled against the run.

    McBean surprised everyone last season by earning his way into the starting job and played fairly well. However, the thin position began to wear him (and most of the DL) down as the season progressed, but he is a young player that should progress much better with a veteran like Bannan to emulate.

    Ryan was able to hold off LeKevin in the depth chart for much of the season last year, and they will enter into a battle for who gets the nod to spell relief for Bannan.

Nose Tackle

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    #76 Jamal Williams, 6-3 348
    #91 Ronnie Fields, 6-2 314
    #75 Chris Baker, 6-2 329

    Undoubtedly one of the league's best nose tackles over the past decade, Jamal is all too familiar for Broncos as he has anchored the Chargers line for a decade.

    Defecting to AFC-West rival Denver could be a major coup in the arms race, but staying healthy will be Jamal's primary concern. Age has certainly taken its toll on him, but the Broncos should have the depth at the position to keep him fresh throughout the year.

    Ronnie Fields helped to provide an anchor last season as the team transitioned to the 3-4 defense. He did his apprenticeship with Nolan in San Francisco prior to coming over with him to Denver.

    Nolan is gone and so is Fields' starting job with the signing of Williams. Fields should be able to provide quality relief in regular rotation with Jamal, so hopefully the competition will kick his game up a notch.

    Last year, Chris Baker saw miniscule playing time (I think only 3 snaps against Pittsburgh), but the coaches have made very confident reports of his development.

    Look for Baker to challenge Fields for some time on the Nose depth chart, and hope he soaks up all the tricks of the trade from Jamal that he can.

Right Defensive End

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    #93 Jarvis Green, 6-3 285
    #79 Marcus Thomas, 6-3 316
    Longshots:
    #65 Jeff Stehle, 6-6 310
    #90 Ben Garland, 6-5 275

    The third member of the newly inked starting front three is Jarvis Green. Stealing away another veteran player from the Patriots, Coach McDaniels will likely use him in the much the same role.

    Expect a heavy rotation at this position, as Jarvis isn't exactly an every-down lineman and probably is much more effective keeping his motor fresh.

    Now that depth at Nose Tackle is solidified, Marcus Thomas will slide over to the Defensive End position, which is much more suited to his game in our scheme.

    Thomas is a run stuffer who can create havoc when left man-on-man, so he could be very effective in this role. Some analysts think that this could be his last chance to stick with the team, but I believe this is the perfect role for Thomas.

    Look for undrafted free agents Jarron Baston (Missouri) or Jeff Stehle (Wisconsin) to have a very solid chance of cracking the active roster, or at the very least getting an assignment on the practice squad.

    Although he is a little short, Baston could be a good fit as a 3-4 DE or situational tackle, while Stehle has prototypical DE size for our scheme. Update: Baston was waived.

Strong Outside Linebacker

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    #56 Robert Ayers, 6-3 274
    #95 Darrell Reid, 6-2 270
    #58 Baraka Atkins, 6-4 268

    Ayers will take over the starting job from Mario Haggan this season after quietly gathering 40 percent of the 2009 snaps.

    Ayers will provide a different element from the strong-side than Haggan, with more emphasis on pass-rushing to provide a book-end with Elvis Dumervil.

    Who the No. 2 man will be behind Ayers is up in the air. Darrell Reid's future on the team is in doubt as he recovers from off-season surgery.

    If healthy, he will provide a solid veteran and versatile presence to offset the youthful Ayers.

    If Reid isn't ready to go when the season starts, look for Baraka Atkins to serve as the backup to Ayers.

Strong Inside Linebacker

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    #57 Mario Haggan, 6-3 267
    #51 Akin Ayodele, 6-2 245
    #59 Wesley Woodyard, 6-0 222
    #96 Joe Mays, 5-11 246
    Longshot:
    #54 Nick Greisen, 6-1 242

    Taking the place of the departed Andra Davis will be former MLB-turned OLB Mario Haggan. Haggan is a run-stuffing specialist who has a bigger frame and should hold up better over the long-haul than Davis did.

    Akin Ayodele will provide some competition for both Haggan and Woodyard as he is an "all-around" type of guy that can remain on the field regardless of down and distance. He won't be the second coming of Ray Lewis, but he adds some quality components to the ILB position.

    Woodyard will provide his usual cover-duty in obvious passing situations, but Ayodele will challenge his playing time.

    Joe Mays comes over from Philadelphia in a trade for RB J.J. Arrington. Mays has the size and playing style to contribute at the Mike LB spot for the Broncos, but will make the roster with his special teams ability as well.

Weak Inside Linebacker

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    #55 D.J. Williams, 6-1 242
    #51 Akin Ayodele, 6-2 245
    #46 Spencer Larsen, 6-2 243
    Longshot:
    #49 Devin Bishop, 6-1 239
    #52 Braxton Kelley, 6-0 230

    D.J. is an active all-over-field backer that will command everydown snaps and perform in every situation when called upon.

    With a more talented and beefed up defensive line in front of him, D.J. has to be excited for his 2010 prospects.

    Hopefully, we don't ever need to find out who the No. 2 guy is at this position, but if so, it seems like newly signed Akin Ayodele has the best all-around skillset to step into this crucial role.

    Spencer Larsen and Devin Bishop have the talent and athleticism to step in here as well.

Weak Outside Linebacker

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    #92 Elvis Dumervil, 5-11 248
    #53 Jammie Kirlew, 6-3 264
    #94 Jarvis Moss, 6-7 257
    Longshot:
    #48 Kevin Alexander, 6-4 265

    Dumervil is the Broncos' pass rush. Enough said.

    He has a serious injury, however, and that provides an opportunity for the rest of the players to get quality practice/playing time.

    Jammie Kirlew is a very similar player to Doom, with an QB-seeking radar that finds anyway possible to get pressure, he should fit well at this position.

    Developing him into a complete OLB with run defense and pass coverage duties will take some time, however.

    Jarvis Moss has survived so far through the Broncos transition and with Dumervil's and Reid's injury status, he might have another shot to stick on the roster and possibly even crack the starting lineup for a change.

Left Cornerback

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    #24 Champ Bailey, 6-0 192
    #22 Alphonso Smith, 5-9 190
    #32 Perrish Cox, 6-0 195
    Longshot:
    #41 Cassius Vaughn, 5-11 195

    Shut down corner Champ shuts down the top of the depth chart here as well.

    Alphonso Smith now has to hold of Perrish Cox for a spot in the top half of the corners. Smith fits the mold based on skills alone, but his size will always mean he has to play well above his stature to convince the team he can take top WR's man-on-man.

    I certainly hope that he can make the adjustment to the NFL in his second season, as he is a quality kid with immense talent.

    Cox has all the measurables a team can ask for in a corner, now he needs to measure up in the areas that can't be quantified.

    If he can make that transition by learning from the best in the game, Champ Bailey, he can prove that his draft-day fall was the DB equivalent of Randy Moss.

Strong Safety

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    #23 Renaldo Hill, 5-11 205
    #30 David Bruton, 6-2 211
    #36 Josh Barrett, 6-2 225

    Hill returns as the starting Strong Safety with special teams ace David Bruton continuing his development as an NFL safety to provide depth.

    Barrett was on the NFL yo-yo last season and will be hard pressed to command a roster spot on the 53-man roster barring injury.

Free Safety

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    #20 Brian Dawkins, 6-0 210
    #31 Darcel McBath, 6-1 198
    Longshot:
    #34 Kyle McCarthy, 6-1 210

    A Pro Bowl veteran that carries a big stick and gets the crowd roaring, paired up with a talented, quick learning second year player who has shown great promise.

    Game. set. match.

    That is all a team needs in a depth chart, as both the present and future seem bright at Free Safety for the Broncos.

Right Cornerback

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    #21 Andre Goodman, 5-10 184
    #33 Nate Jones, 5-10 185
    #25 Tony Carter, 5-9 175
    #43 Syd'Quan Thompson, 5-9 187

    Goodman and Jones will have their roster spots locked down. Both are veteran players that are very good at their jobs. Goodman provides a blanket over the opposite side of the field from Champ, which makes him a valuable component of the defense.

    Jones will provide depth at the corner spot, and serve as the nickel cornerback.

    The Broncos will very likely only carry five corners on the active roster, making the battle between Carter and Thompson most likely an audition for the practice squad.

Nickel Cornerback

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    #33 Nate Jones, 5-10 185
    #22 Alphonso Smith, 5-9 190

    With our AFC West rivals all stocking up on tiny, shifty, playmaking players that will challenge the short area coverage:
    San Diego - Darren Sproles, 5-6 185
    Kansas City - Dexter McCluster, 5-8 165
    Oakland - Jacoby Ford, 5-9 181

    The Nickel corner will be an extremely important part of our defense.

    Nate Jones fits more of the true Nickel role that Alphonso was not able to perform last season. We'll find out if he is up to the task with that challenging trio in conference.

Kick & Punt Returners

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    #11 Kenny McKinley, 6-0 183
    #32 Perrish Cox, 6-0 195
    #12 Matthew Willis, 6-0 190

    Certainly some of the other players could factor in at one of the returner positions, but my money is on one or two of the above three guys to earn the main return duties.

    McKinley left a lot to be desired last season, that is for certain, but he might get another shot to prove he can step into that role.

    Cox has all-world athleticism to be an effective returner, but there is still a lot of practice to determine if that will work for Perrish.

    Matt Willis has been the early practice surprise at catching the ball and in return duties.  He could certainly make his mark on special teams as Coach McDaniels places high value on a steady presence with sure hands.

12th Man

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    Always No. 1 on the Depth Chart are the loud and loyal Broncomaniacs!

    With 76,125 fans chanting In-Com-Plete in unison, the Mile High faithful are the only position on this depth chart that is never in fear of losing their starting job.

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