What are the Expectations for the Denver Broncos’ Draft Picks?
The 2013 Denver Broncos Draft Class
The Denver Broncos hold their rookie mini-camp starting on Friday and lasting through Sunday. This will be the first opportunity for the new Broncos, both draft choices and college free agents, to get on the field as professionals. However this weekend is less about on the field activities and more about orientation.
There will be football related activities, of course, but the more important information will be how to be a Bronco and how to be a professional. The rookies will spend time getting to know the building, where the weight room is, where the meeting rooms are and even where the cafeteria is.
That may sound a little ridiculous, but the coaches for the Broncos want the first-year players’ minds on football when they start practicing with the veterans. When running back Montee Ball has a positional meeting, the last thing he should be thinking about is where that meeting is being held.
The rookies also get a chance to know their coaches without the veterans around, and they get an early idea of what the expectations are on the field. The Broncos, especially with Peyton Manning, practice at a high level and it’s going to be a shock for young players. The three days of rookie mini-camp will hopefully lessen some of that shock.
The players will get their playbooks and start to do some basic things on the field, but the weekend is more about getting over the “Oh Boy, I’m in the NFL" phase. Because when Manning and the veterans show up, they won’t have time for players who aren’t ready. 2013 is about winning a championship, and the Broncos aren’t waiting for a rookie who can’t find the restroom.
With all of that said, I thought this would be a good time to project what each of the draft picks might contribute to the 2013 Broncos. For now, we are going to limit are projections to the rookies who were drafted.
Sylvester Williams will most likely begin the season as a backup, but at the position of defensive tackle it really doesn’t matter who starts. The Broncos are going to rotate four defensive tackles throughout the game to keep them fresh, and he will be a big part of that rotation.
Williams should be starting by mid-season, and his production will increase as the season progresses. If he ends up with five or six sacks and is good versus the run, then his rookie season will be a success.
It’s a little unusual to expect more from the second-round pick as opposed to the first-round pick, but that’s the case here. Ball was selected by the Broncos with the hope that he would be the starting running back on opening night.
Ball should give the Broncos’ offense something they were missing last year, a threat out of the backfield. He should help in short-yardage and goal-line situations. The key for Ball will be his pass protection, and if he can prove to Manning and the coaches that he can handle the blitz, then winning the offensive rookie of the year award is not out of the question.
The Broncos are set with their top three cornerbacks, but there will be competition for the fourth job. Keep in mind the fourth cornerback plays a lot in today’s pass happy NFL. Kayvon Webster will compete for that job with Tony Carter and Omar Bolden.
Carter has the inside track on winning that competition, but Webster will be given every opportunity. The Broncos love his size and speed, but the key will be how quickly he adjusts to the pro game. Webster can also play a little safety which might give him a leg up on the other two.
The health question is the big one for Quanterus Smith. If he is healthy when training camp begins in July then he has a chance to contribute immediately. He is a natural pass rusher, and that is a skill that often translates right away without much of a learning curve.
The Broncos will not ask Smith to do anything other than get to the quarterback, meaning he would not have to worry about gap responsibilities or stopping the run. They will continue to work on that type of stuff with Smith, but he has a shot to make an impact in 2013 by rushing the quarterback.
Tavarres King is the early favorite to be the fourth receiver coming out of training camp. He has all of the skills to be a good receiver in the NFL, but as with every rookie, it’s all about adjustment.
King was able to get open in college just based on his athletic ability, but that won’t be the case in the NFL. He will have to learn the subtle moves that get receivers open, and he will have to deal with the physical corners. King is competing with veteran Andre Caldwell who fell out of favor in 2012; that should benefit the rookie. If he does win the job, then King will play in four receiver sets.
The Broncos went into the draft looking to add depth to the offensive line, and Vinston Painter will be looked to provide just that. He can play both tackle and guard which will benefit him as he attempts to make the active roster.
Unlike the first five picks, Painter is not a lock to make the team. The Broncos have other linemen they like so Painter is going to have to make an impression, both in camp and in the preseason. If he does not make the roster out of camp, Painter will most likely be added to the practice squad.
As strange as it sounds, Zac Dysert is almost a lock to make the roster as a seventh-round selection. There are many around the league who thought Dysert would be drafted in the fourth or fifth round, and the Broncos got him in the seventh.
The Broncos love the upside of Dysert, and they are also in need of a third quarterback behind Manning and Brock Osweiler. Dysert has all of the tools to play in the NFL, and if he puts in the work then the sky’s the limit. Osweiler is still considered the future, but the Broncos want Dysert to push him.
Most fans view the preseason as boring, but there will be a lot of things to watch for Broncos fans. They have a lot of veteran talent, but these rookies have a shot to make a difference from day one. How big of a difference is up to them.
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