Denver Broncos Off-season Analysis: Running Backs

By Joe Morrone
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The running back position for the Denver Broncos going forward is a tricky one; they have talent but adding an additional back would be a good idea. The biggest question heading into the off-season surrounds Willis McGahee, who is a coming off of a knee injury and is another year older. He has been extremely productive for the Broncos and if he can come back healthy, then he will be definitely be in the plans for 2013.

The future for the Broncos is Ronnie Hillman, who did not have the rookie season everyone imagined but his talent his unquestionable. That talent was on display in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, as he was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing day.

Hillman showed versus the Ravens an ability to run inside the tackles and pick up the tough yards. That is and will continue to be one of the questions about Hillman; can he be an every down back who runs inside as well as using his speed on the outside. Time will tell but the game against the Ravens was a positive sign.

Hillman also needs to improve his pass blocking; that’s the one area that cost him more playing time in 2012. Most backs get better at that in their second and third seasons, and Hillman has shown a willingness to work at it. Hillman was the youngest player in the league last season and that has to be taken into consideration. He should be even better in 2013. It would be a surprise if Hillman is not the opening day starter for the Broncos.

Knowshon Moreno was supposed to be an afterthought this season and going forward, but then something crazy happened. He started to show the potential that made him a first-round draft pick. After McGahee got hurt in mid-season, a lot of people thought the Broncos were in trouble but Moreno stepped in and the running game never missed a beat. There were two or three games down the stretch where Moreno was one of the best players on the field. If he has a good off-season then he and Hillman will give the Broncos a nice one, two punch.

The Broncos struggled in short-yardage situations all season and it cost them two or three possessions every game; including the playoff loss to the Ravens. The tried to address it in mid-season with the signing of fullback, Jacob Hester and that helped some. Hester will be back but look for the Broncos to address their short-yardage woes in the later rounds of the draft. They do not need an every down back; just a guy who can get a yard at a crucial point.

As good as the Broncos offense was in 2012, they would like to have a little more balance in 2013. It takes pressure off of Manning and wears out the opposing defense. The Broncos have the guy they want; now it is up to Hillman to step up.

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