NFL Denver Broncos

Is Knowshon Moreno Answer to Denver Broncos’ Backfield Questions?

Peyton Manning and Knowshon Moreno

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Knowshon Moreno was a top-100, New Jersey state record-breaking recruit coming out of high school. He was then an All-American first-round pick coming out of the University of Georgia. But so far, all Moreno has done in the NFL has been a mediocre backup at best. With Willis McGahee gone, and a couple of young backs filling out the position on the Denver Broncos‘ depth chart, it is time for Moreno to fulfill some of his potential.

In his five-year NFL career, Moreno has never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season, has never tallied 10 touchdowns in a season and has only played a full 16-game season once. However, despite the pedestrian statistics, he has also shown flashes of legitimate NFL ability when healthy and motivated. It is a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; one running back appears to have expansive vision, elite agility and a strong motor, but the other is indecisive, non-explosive and seemingly uninspired.

That being said, a lot has changed in Dove Valley since Moreno was drafted in 2009 and finally the situation in the backfield has swayed in his favor. Entering this season, Moreno appears to be in the best shape of his career and psychologically adjusted to the NFL. Until last year, Moreno had never been apart of such a mentally-demanding offense nor one with so much opportunity for hungry players. As an intellectual guy who is not afraid of work, Moreno appears to be relishing the challenge of playing with Peyton Manning and elevating his level of play.

In the first game of the 2013 season, with the starting job totally up for grabs, Moreno managed to narrowly win a lackluster contest for the starting position by rushing for just 28 yards on nine carries. In week two, after a week of practice as the default starter and the team’s emphasis on improving the run game, Moreno showed real promise in recording 93 yards and two 20-yard rushing touchdowns.

Really a stellar game for Moreno, he demonstrated patience following his lead blockers, but also made decisive as well as explosive cuts and finished his runs off with a powerful burst. Moreover, he seemed to be very secure with the ball in his hands, made a number of solid plays in blitz pick-ups and caught the ball well coming out of the backfield. With an ever-increasing comfort level in the offense and an opportunity to start for a Super Bowl-caliber team, Moreno appears ready to turn the corner in his NFL career.

This is Moreno’s first season — since his rookie year when he rushed for 947 yards and seven touchdowns — that he is completely healthy and excited about the football he is playing. With a professional attitude, a slew of NFL experience — both good and bad —there is nothing to suggest that Moreno will not become a viable NFL starter.

After all, the Broncos do not need a Pro Bowl running back who is going to rush for 1,400 yards a season, but they do need someone to achieve the basics: oppose at least some threat as a runner, block for Manning and hold on to the football. If Moreno can stay healthy and continue to grow within the offense, he and Broncos should have very successful this season.