Long are the days of the Denver Broncos being one of the top teams in the NFL. Since the retirement of Peyton Manning, the team has yet to find any consistent play at the quarterback position. From Trevor Siemian, Mark Sanchez, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, and Case Keenum, they have yet to get it right. Keenum was the starter last […]
Long are the days of the Denver Broncos being one of the top teams in the NFL. Since the retirement of Peyton Manning, the team has yet to find any consistent play at the quarterback position. From Trevor Siemian, Mark Sanchez, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, and Case Keenum, they have yet to get it right. Keenum was the starter last season and posted a 6-10 record in 2018. While part of it was the QB play, injures also took a toll with guys like Chris Harris Jr. and Emmanuel Sanders went down at one point during the season.
There were some bright spots, however. Undrafted and Colorado kid Phillip Lindsay came out of nowhere as one of the lone bright spots in the offense. The defense also had some bright spots with Von Miller consistently being one of the pass rushers in the NFL, while the 2018 first-round pick Bradley Chubb exploded right away with 12 sacks in his rookie season.
Fast forward to the 2019 offseason and the first thing Denver did was to bring in a new QB. Not only did they trade for long time Baltimore Ravens and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, but they also drafted Drew Lock in the second round.
Not only that, but the organization also made a change at the head coaching position, firing Vance Joesph and bringing in former Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio is part of the reason for the Bears success in recent years and Denver hopes he can bring that magic over.
Here are my predictions for the 2019 Denver Broncos starting lineup, along with the backups, and preseason cuts.
- Starter: Joe Flacco
- Backups: Drew Lock, Kevin Hogan
- Preseason Cuts: Brett Rypien
Denver hopes Flacco has a lot left in the tank after his tenure ended with the Ravens. I still think he can get it done at 34 and is a quality starter in the NFL.
Second Round selection Lock looks to be the QB of the future. He still needs to develop but has a nice veteran in Flacco to learn from. Hogan makes the team as the third QB.
- Starters: Phillip Lindsay (RB), Andy Janovich (FB)
- Backups: Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, Khalfani Muhammad
- Preseason Cuts: Devontae Jackson, Theo Riddick, Dave Williams, George Aston
Lindsay is a great story. The undrafted hometown kid turned into a star right out of the gate, rushing for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns which included a Pro Bowl selection. A wrist injury in Week 16 ended his season and will look to bounce back into the star he has become. Denver is one of the few teams to use the fullback and Janovich is one of the better fullbacks in the league.
Freeman looked to be the starter at the beginning of the 2018 season but struggled at times in the offense but in his second season, he’ll form a nice duo with Lindsay in the backfield. Booker makes the team a veteran option in the backfield while Muhammad should make the team as a Special Teams contributor.
- Starters: Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton
- Backups: DaeSean Hamilton, Juwann Winfree, River Cracraft
- Preseason Cuts: Tim Patrick, Trinity Benson, Fred Brown, Steven Dunbar, Brendan Langley, Kelvin McKnight, Nick Williams
Denver is young at the WR position outside of Sanders, who is still a solid starter looking to bounce back from his Achilles injury he suffered during the season. He’ll provide nice veteran leadership to young guys like Sutton and Hamilton, who will have expanded roles in 2019.
Winfree is a sixth-round pick who has the potential to contribute down the line but much like Cracraft, they’ll be contributors on Special Teams.
- Starter: Noah Fant
- Backups: Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Bug Howard
- Preseason Cuts: Troy Fumagalli, Moral Stephens, Austin Fort
2019 first-round pick Fant is a vertical threat while also being a solid blocker. I believe he has the chance to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He’ll look to start and contribute right away.
Heuerman, Butt, and former WR turned TE Howard are solid backup options that can help out the offense as well as Special Teams
- Starters: Garett Bolles, Ron Leary, Connor McGovern, Dalton Risner, Ja’Wuan James
- Backups: Chaz Green, Don Barclay, Quinn Bailey
- Preseason Cuts: Ryan Crozier, Austin Schlottmann, Adam Bisnowaty, Jake Rodgers, Elijah Wilkinson, Nico Falah
The offensive line has been a struggle the past few seasons but has some bright spots in Bolles, Leary, and newly acquired James.
The starters look to be solid for 2019 but the backups could be concerning as there is not a lot of notable depth players here.
- Starters: Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris, Adam Gotsis
- Backups: DeMarcus Walker, Dre’Monte Jones, Zach Kerr
- Preseason Cuts: Mike Purcell, Deyon Sizer, DeShawn Williams, Billy Winn
Coach Fangio will bring his Chicago style 3-4 defense that showed a lot of success in the past few seasons. Wolfe and Gotsis are solid ends to work with while Harris is a solid nose tackle for the defense. Walker, Jones, and Kerr will be solid backups in the rotation.
- Starters: Von Miller, Josey Jewell, Todd Davis, Bradley Chubb
- Backups: Dekoda Watson, Malik Reed, Justin Hollins, Jeff Holland
- Preseason Cuts: Keishawn Bierria, Joe Dineen, Joe Jones, Josh Watson, Alexander Johnson, Ahmad Gooden, Aaron Wallace
Miller is one of the best edge rushers in the NFL, so he is a guaranteed starter. Chubb was excellent last season and pairing him with Miller is a scary duo.
The inside linebacker core is nothing special but Jewell and Davis can get the job done. Hollins, Reed, and Holland will provide depth on the edge but may not see the field a lot with Miller and Chubb starting. Watson seems to be the primary backup inside while Jones and Bierria will help out on Special Teams.
- Starters: Chris Harris Jr., Kareem Jackson
- Backups: Bryce Callahan, Isaac Yiadom, De’Vante Bausby, Alijah Holder
- Preseason Cuts: Trey Johnson, Horace Richardson, Linden Stephens
Harris is one of the best and sometimes underrated cornerbacks in the league. Jackson and Callahan have signed this past offseason and should provide some nice cover skills to complement Harris, with Jackson starting opposite of him.
Yiadom and Holder are young corners who could contribute down the line. Bausby spent some time in Chicago while Fangio was the Defensive Coordinator, which gives him an advantage in making the roster.
- Starters: Justin Simmons, Su’a Cravens
- Backups: Will Parks, Shamarko Thomas, Trey Marshall
- Preseason Cuts: Jamal Carter, Dymonte Thomas
Simmons I believe is on the rise as one of the best young safeties in the league. I have Cravens starting alongside Simmons as a hard-hitting safety that will look to make a huge leap this season.
Parks and Marshall I have right now been the backups to Simmons and Cravens. Thomas has been a solid Special Teamer throughout his career and I have him making the roster with the same role coming in.
- Kicker: Brandon McManus
- Punter: Colby Wadman
- Long Snapper: Casey Kreiter
- Preseason Cuts: None
Another team, another group of specialists that seem obvious. McManus is a solid kicker while Wadman and Kreiter seem to not have any competition in their respective positions. They’ll likely stick together once again.
Denver is in an interesting position. I think they have some talent on both sides of the ball to make some noise in the playoffs.
Obviously, you have to wonder if Flacco can still get it done but I think he’ll be more than fine with the amount of young talent he has around him. Guys like Lindsay, Sutton, and Fant will contribute right away while Sanders can still put up some numbers as one of the few veterans in the starting lineup.
The defense I believe will be the strong point here once again with guys like Miller and Chubb being a nightmare of a pass-rushing duo for opposing offensive lines. The secondary has a chance to make some noise too with Harris and rising star Simmons.
A playoff team in 2019? Maybe, but it could be tough in a division with the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs seemingly fighting for the top spot. In a couple of seasons, I can see them being a playoff team but if key players can stay healthy, they can definitely improve from their 6-10 record.