NFL Denver Broncos

Predicting Denver Broncos Final 53-Man Roster

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The Decision Makers

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Making an NFL roster is never easy for a young player and it is even tougher to make a roster of a team that is as deep and talented as the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have only one goal in 2013, and that’s to win a championship.

The primary factor in constructing a roster is finding the best 53 players available, but there’s a lot more to it than that. John Elway has to have one eye on the present and one eye on the future when putting together the roster. Don’t get me wrong; the best players are going to make the roster for the Broncos. But age will often act as a tiebreaker.

For example, if the final spot at running back comes down to an aging veteran and a younger back, then teams will often go with the youth. The thinking is that the fourth string running back, hopefully, is not going to play much anyway so why not have a player who might develop into something in the future.

Special teams play a huge role in roster decisions as well and are often the determining factor. If we go back to our running back example, the veteran who does not play special teams is in trouble whereas the young guy who can play all the special teams has an advantage. You may have figured it out all ready but in my opinion, Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno are in serious trouble.

It’s only May and a lot can change between now and the final roster cuts in late August, but here’s an all too early look at the final 53-man roster for the 2013 Broncos.

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This is probably the easiest position to predict.

Peyton Manning — DUH!

Brock Osweiler — Firmly entrenched as the backup to Manning and is the quarterback of the future. Had he stayed in college for one more season, most scouts believe he would have been to top quarterback taken in the 2013 draft.

Zac Dysert — The Broncos like Dysert’s upside and believe he can develop into a functional backup to Osweiler. Dysert is not, I repeat not, a threat to Osweiler.

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Running Backs-5

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This is where the biggest surprises and most of the debate come. Look for the Broncos to go young, very young, at running back.

Montee Ball — Unless something strange happens, the second-round pick from the 2013 draft will be the starter on opening day. He’s a perfect fit for the Broncos offense and wants to work.

Ronnie Hillman — Hillman might be the most overlooked weapon in the Broncos offense. The second-year back is bigger and ready to contribute in a big way in 2013.

Jacob Hester — The Broncos are not going to use a fullback very often but they have to keep one, and Hester is the guy. He’s decent in short-yardage and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Lance Ball — He somehow makes the team every season and he will again in 2013. Ball doesn’t do anything great, but he does a lot of things good and he plays special teams.

CJ Anderson — Here’s the shocker. Anderson has been a standout at the OTA practices and the Broncos really like him. Anderson is a guy to keep an eye on in the preseason.

That means that both McGahee and Moreno will not make the final roster. McGahee is older and if he is not starting, then there’s no point in keeping him. Moreno just never lived up to his first-round draft status; a change of scenery might do him some good.

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Tight-end is pretty straight forward, two veterans and two younger guys.

Jacob Tamme — Tamme proved in 2012 that he can get down the field and make big plays, he will have that opportunity again especially with defenses so worried about the wide receivers.

Joel Dressen — The Broncos liked to use Dressen around the goal-line a lot and that will continue this season. Plus, even with all of the other weapons, there will be times when the Broncos play two tight-ends.

Julius Thomas — The Broncos might be running out of patience with Thomas, but there are not ready to completely give up on him and his immense physical talent. Make no mistake though, 2013 is a big year for Thomas.

Virgil Green — Green is by far the best blocker among the tight-ends and that will keep him on the roster. Much like Thomas though, the upcoming season is a big one for Green.

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Wide Receivers-5

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The Broncos are loaded at receiver and there is only one spot up for grabs in my humble opinion.

Demaryius Thomas — Thomas is an up-and-coming star in the league and should see more single coverage in 2013.

Eric Decker — He’s the one that no one is talking about and may see a lot of coverage from nickel backs. If that’s the case, Decker should be in for a big season.

Wes Welker — Welker has never had the outside receivers he will have with the Broncos which means he will see more single coverage. Welker may not catch as many passes as he has in the past but his effect on the offense will be huge.

Tavarres King — Remember when we talked about having an eye on the future? That’s part of the reason that King makes the Broncos. Decker is a free agent next year and Welker is 32, the Broncos need to be prepared. King also is a deep threat that the other guys are not.

Greg Orton — Orton has threatened to make the final roster for a couple of years now, in 2013 he finally breaks through.

Veteran Andre Caldwell will be saying bye to the Broncos and probably blame it on the fact that Manning did not invite him to the workouts at Duke.

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Offensive Lineman-8

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The first move the Broncos made in free agency was not a receiver or a defensive back; it was the signing of Louis Vasquez. That should tell you how important the offensive line is.

Ryan Clady — There is still some concern over Clady’s contact but when it counts, he will be there on opening night. Clady is one of the best offensive tackles in the league and my guess is that a contract gets done before the start of the season.

Orlando Franklin — The third-year tackle is quickly developing into one of the best run blockers in the league, that development will continue in 2013.

Louis Vasquez — He was the first free-agent signing for Elway and Vasquez will team with Franklin to give the Broncos a very physical right side of the offensive line.

JD Walton — The center returns to the starting job after missing most of 2012 with an injury.

Zane Beadles — Beadles was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2012 and a lot of executives around the league pointed to him as one of the most improved players.

Vinston Painter — The Broncos needed depth at the tackle position and they are hopeful the rookie can provide that.

Phillip Blake — Blake is also returning from an injury in 2013 and the Broncos love his talent. Blake can play both center and guard, and will provide depth at both positions.

CJ Davis — Like Blake, Davis has a lot of upside and will provide depth on the interior of the offensive line.

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Defensive Lineman-9

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For the first time in years, the Broncos are deep and talented on the defensive line. Even with the loss of Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos are set.

Robert Ayers — There are no more excuses for Ayers, the Broncos are counting on him to be the guy at defensive end. Ayers has shown flashes but must be more consistent in 2013.

Derek Wolfe — The second-year defensive tackle has all of the tools and the work ethic to go with that talent. Wolfe might be the best Broncos player that no one is talking about.

Terrance Knighton — The free-agent signing of Knighton was surprising to some but he had great seasons under Jack Del Rio with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Del Rio is now the defensive coordinator with the Broncos, and Knighton is a good fit for his defense.

Kevin Vickerson — He may not be the player that immediately comes to mind but Vickerson is a key to the Broncos defense. He often takes up more than one blocker and allows others to make plays behind him.

Sylvester Williams — The first-round pick will be expected to contribute right away as a part of the rotation at defensive tackle.

Shaun Phillips — It’s still my opinion that the signing of Phillips could end up being the best move of the offseason. He wanted to be a Bronco and he’s motivated, that’s a dangerous combination. Phillips can also play linebacker which makes him even more valuable.

Malik Jackson — Jackson is another player that often goes unnoticed but he had a solid rookie season, and looks to be even a bigger part of the defense in 2013.

Mitch Unrein — Unrein does all of the things that the fans don’t see but the coach’s love, and that’s why he will make the Broncos roster once again.

Quanterus Smith — In addition to the signing of Phillips, the Broncos drafted Smith to help the pass rush. Smith may struggle early with other parts of the game but if he can get to the quarterback, then he has a spot on the roster.

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There is some concern over the middle linebacker spot, but in this day and age of wide open offenses, teams usually only have two on the field and the Broncos have plenty of talent for that.

Von Miller — DUH part two.

Wesley Woodyard — Woodyard had a breakout year in 2012 and will combine with Miller to make up one of the best outside linebacker duos in the NFL. Woodyard is a playmaker who should only get better.

Nate Irving — The Broncos drafted Irving two seasons ago to be their middle linebacker of the future; it is time for him to step up in 2013. The talent it there, always has been, but it needs to translate onto the field.

Danny Trevathan — Trevathan is the wildcard for the Broncos’ linebackers and he could turn into a huge contributor for the defense in 2013. Trevathan can do everything from rushing the quarterback to stopping the run to covering backs out of the backfield.

Steven Johnson — If Irving is not the answer at middle linebacker, Johnson could be. He made the team as a rookie free agent and the Broncos like his potential.

Steven Bradley — Bradley was brought in to compete with Irving and Johnson at middle linebacker, but he is an ace on special teams and that’s where his contributions will be noticed.

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Elway has repeatedly talked about the ability to stop the spread offenses on defense, and the Broncos have enough talent at cornerback to do it.

Champ Bailey — He’s not the player he once was but Bailey is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Dominque-Rodgers Cromartie — The Broncos wanted another starting corner to put alongside Bailey, and they found him in free agency. Cromartie was a disappointment with the Philadelphia Eagles but he was misused. Cromartie is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the league, and should thrive with the Broncos.

Chris Harris — Harris could be the best slot corner in the league and made countless big plays in 2012. Harris may not be listed as a starter but he is a big part of the Broncos defensive plans in 2013.

Omar Bolden — He didn’t play a lot on defense in 2012 but Bolden is expected to contribute as an extra defensive back in 2013.

Kavon Webster — The third-round pick from the 2013 draft has the talent to play right away. If he can adjust to the pro game, then Webster will be on the field a lot. Webster can also contribute at safety is asked to do so, and will be asked to play on special teams.

It was hard to leave Tony Carter off of the roster but he struggled at the end of last season. If Tracy Porter had been healthy, then Carter may have been inactive down the stretch

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If there is one area to be concerned about for the Broncos, it’s probably safety. There’s some talent but it is young and inexperienced. If there’s one spot where the Broncos are still looking to add a veteran, it is safety.

Mike Adams — Adams is not a great player but he is a solid safety who is usually in the right spot. Not many Broncos played well in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but Moore was outstanding that day.

Rahim Moore — Whether people want to believe it or not, Moore is a core player for the Broncos going forward and his second season was a good one.

Quinton Carter — Carter is the question at safety; if he is completely healthy, then the Broncos are ok at the position. Carter was easily the best safety at the end of 2011 and the Broncos missed him last season.

David Bruton — Bruton is one of the best special teams’ players in the league and will compete for more time on the field as a safety.

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Special teams are overlooked by some but they win and lose games every week. The Broncos have two very good kickers and a great return man.

Matt Prater — He had an off year by his standards in 2012 but Prater is still one of the best kickers in the NFL. In addition to the field-goals, Prater consistently kicks the ball out of the end zone which helps with field position.

Britton Colquitt — Colquitt may have the best job in the NFL; a punter for the best offense in the league. When asked to, Colquitt usually changes field position for the Broncos.

Trindon Holliday — In addition to an offense that can score from anywhere on the field, the Broncos have one of the best returners in the league. As he did in the playoffs, Holliday can give the Broncos a quick six at anytime.

Aaron Brewer — No one thinks of the long-snapper until there’s a bad snap. No one thought of Brewer last season, which tells you all you need to know. Outside of Manning, Brewer might have the most secure spot on the team.

The final roster is a long way from being set and there will be surprises, but this is what the 2013 Broncos look like at the end of May.