Montee Ball is Bad News for the Veteran Running Backs of the Denver Broncos

By Joe Morrone
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

There’s another side to the NFL Draft that often goes unnoticed, and it is often not kind to the veteran players. For every pick that is excited about starting their career there’s a veteran who is trying to hold off that young player for one more season. For the Denver Broncos, there is one obvious position where this very well could take effect in the coming months.

The Broncos used their second round pick to select running back Montee Ball, and if all goes according to plan then Ball will be the starting running back on opening night versus the Baltimore Ravens. If that’s the case, it’s extremely likely that the Broncos will say goodbye to Willis McGahee.

The Broncos are not going to say it publicly, but make no mistake, Ball was drafted to take McGahee’s spot on the roster. It’s the tough part of the business, but it is also a necessary move by the Broncos. McGahee has been a workhorse for the Broncos since signing as a free agent in 2011, but he is a year older and coming off of another injury.

If Ball is the player the Broncos expect him to be, then he would assume the role that McGahee has played for the last two seasons. Ball would be the starting running back and be on the field for first and second down. He would also become the short-yardage back, especially on the goal-line. If that plays out, the Broncos are not going to pay an aging veteran to be a backup. In addition, McGahee likely would balk at that role as he has always been a starter.

Knowshon Moreno could be different though, and the Broncos would still need a backup to Ball as Ronnie Hillman is more of a change of pace back. Moreno played well after McGahee went down with a knee injury, and he would be a suitable backup for Ball.

The Broncos could release both Moreno and McGahee, but of the two, Moreno is more likely to be with the team. In a perfect world, Ball and Hillman will combine to make up a duo of power on the inside and speed on the outside. That’s why the Broncos drafted them in back-to-back seasons. They are the backfield of the future, and the Broncos are hoping the future is now.

Draft day was a great day for Ball and I believe he was a great choice for the Broncos, but there are two sides to everything and McGahee is probably going to come out on the short side of this transaction.

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