BroncosRants: 5 Rookies The Denver Broncos Need to Step Up in 2012
Rookie Class is Plentiful
The quarter mark of the 2012 NFL season is almost behind us and the Denver Broncos have ten rookies on their 53 man roster with the addition of S Duke Ihenacho promoted from their practice squad. The issue with having these rookies is two-fold, however, as realistically, the Broncos are only truly fielding 45 players each game. How is that? Quite simply, only DE Derek Wolfe and now RB Ronnie Hillman, since Knowshon Moreno's demotion, have been receiving quality time on the field.
So how do the Broncos go about evaluating their rookie class? Well let me explain this first. QB Brock Osweiler was not brought here to throw the football in the near future. If he gets playing time, it will not bode well for the Broncos, but while on the sideline, he should be studying Peyton Manning as much as Manning studies everyone else.
LS Aaron Brewer has not had his name mentioned once and that is the best sign that he is doing what he needs to do. Once the long snapper gets mentioned, it is never a good thing. Ihenacho was brought in to replace the roster void when S Quinton Carter was placed on the injured reserve and the secondary has been solid, so not a lot of room to play there.
DE Malik Jackson will have a tough time breaking the rotation when there is Elvis Dumervil and Wolfe ahead of him. C Philip Blake looked like he might win the starting job ahead of J.D. Walton in preseason, but fell behind and now has the back seat to veteran Dan Koppen who took over after Walton was placed on the injured reserve.
The following slides represent the last five Broncos rookies that have the opportunity to shine and have not yet taken advantage when injuries left the Broncos thin or simply by not making the most of their moments in the games.
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Wolfe Could Be Monstrous
Do you see the picture above? That is Derek Wolfe after his first sack of the year against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. That also remains his only sack of the year.
Wolfe has the pleasure of two decoys that gain tremendous attention from opposing linemen: DE Elvis Dumervil and LB Von Miller. Wolfe should only get better, and the league better watch out when he obtains his full potential. This pass rush may get very nasty later in the year.
Hillman a Poor Man's Faulk?
Ronnie Hillman was inactive for the first two games due to his inability to pick up a block. Enter Knowshon Moreno and a dismal start that has now left him inactive for the past two games.
While Hillman has not had many chances, there are times when he proves elusive and other times when he looks every bit the rookie. Willis McGahee will need some help and Hillman is projected to be a poor man's Marshall Faulk that can cut the corner, catch out of the backfield and gain yards when the ball is in his hands.
For the Broncos sake, if Hillman improves, then this run game will become a force throughout the second half.
Bolden Needs to be More Than a Kick Returner
CB Omar Bolden has been returning kicks and not much else so far this season. With the play of Tracy Porter and Champ Bailey, Bolden will have to prove his worth and that can only work in the return game. He can take a page from David Bruton's file and understand that sometimes the only chance to stick around is being a top special teams player.
Trevathan a Ghost
The linebacking unit has been shaky at best through the first three games, but seemed to bring it together against the Oakland Raiders when Keith Brooking replaced Joe Mays while he served his one game suspension.
The Broncos can use some athleticism and tackling ability on the weakside and middle to play with Von Miller on the strongside. Where has Danny Trevathan been? Nobody knows. But in order for this defense to play to its ability, it can use some youth to infuse a breath of fresh air while guys like Mays and Brooking take a break.
If Trevathan remains a ghost, then believe me, he will be forgotten.
As much as Trevathan has been a ghost, Steven Johnson is not far behind. These two rookies need to step it up and claim their spot, not only for 2012, but for the future. This is the best position for anyone to try and break into on the Broncos roster and nobody has stepped up.
Just remember that the linebackers have had to deal with a concussion to Nate Irving, a suspension to Mays and poor play all around. There should be room for anybody to get in the rotation.