Denver Broncos: Five Rookie Contributors
When the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning; the goal was obvious, win now. The Broncos have a three to four year window to win as many Super Bowls as they can with Manning at quarterback. However, the job of any good front office is to balance winning now while still keeping one eye on the future. It may not seem like it because fans are focused on the here and now, as they should be, but there are some young players on the Broncos that should have the fans excited.
We will get to the true rookies who are making a difference in a minute, but beyond the first year players there are some second and third year players that are playing big roles for the Broncos. The obvious one, of course, is Von Miller. Miller is a top five defensive player in the NFL and is only getting better.
Some of the other young players that are making up the foundation of the Broncos include; Orlando Franklin, Chris Harris, Tony Carter, Rahim Moore, Zane Beadles, Virgil Green and more. Quinton Carter is also a promising young safety who was lost for the season earlier this year. There were a number of people that were ready to call the 2011 draft class a bust, but it’s hard to make that case now.
Just about everyone John Elway and his staff have drafted in the past two years have contributed, or are developing at a pace that will allow them to contribute in the near future. In addition to the young players mentioned above, the Broncos have five rookies who are contributing to the success of the 2012 team.
There are probably a few people wondering about this one but Omar Bolden is having a solid rookie season, especially on special teams. He hasn’t broken away on a return yet, but he plays on all of the special teams’ units and has been solid. Bolden is also starting to play more in the defensive backfield and that experience will be valuable in the future. Bolden may not be grabbing the fans attention but the Broncos love him, and he is a huge part of their plans.
Malik Jackson is another player that many fans probably don’t even notice, but he is playing more and more on the defensive line. Is Jackson a star, no of course not but he is a part of the defensive line rotation. It is that rotation that is responsible for a vastly improved run defense and a pass rush that seems to get better in the fourth quarter. Jackson does not make a lot of “Wow” plays yet but he is providing much needed depth that keeps everyone fresh up front.
There is some disappointment surrounding the play of Ronnie Hillman but that disappointment is unfounded. Hillman is the youngest player in the NFL trying to learn an offense that is being run by Manning. He is also playing behind Willis McGahee who might be having his best year as a pro. Hillman gets a little better every week and has been one step away from breaking a handful of runs. Don’t be shocked if Hillman turns in a couple of big games as we head down the stretch.
Danny Trevathan is the surprise rookie of the group; he was a late round pick out of the University of Kentucky and is now a big player on a defense that is ranked in the top 10. Trevathan plays a lot on passing downs and has shown the ability to cover running backs and tight ends. When the season started, the linebackers were a major question mark for the Broncos but are turning into a strength. Trevathan’s play as a rookie is a big part of that.
He was the Broncos first pick in last April’s draft, and Derek Wolfe has not disappointed. He does not have the raw numbers but he takes up double teams that make it easier for Miller and Elvis Dumervil to get to the quarterback. In addition to his play versus the pass, Wolfe has been very good against the run which was supposedly a weakness of his coming out of college. Wolfe is not flashy but when it comes to getting the job done, few are better.
The Denver Broncos with Manning at quarterback are about winning Super Bowls, but any winning team has to have a mix of veterans and younger players. The Broncos have a perfect mix and when the young players contribute, that’s when special seasons happen.
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