Super Bowl XLVIII: Power Ranking Every Denver Broncos Starter
Power Ranking The Denver Broncos' Starters For Super Bowl 48
The Denver Broncos will be making their seventh Super Bowl appearance in the team's 54-year history. Super Bowl 48 will also be the first for the Broncos since the John Elway era, and only the second time in which John Elway did not lead the Broncos to the big game.
In the midst of an historic offensive season for the Broncos which saw Peyton Manning break the passing records of Tom Brady in 2007, the Broncos are looking to cement their place as one of the best single-season teams of all-time with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks. While all the headlines surround Peyton Manning's legacy-defining game and the feel-good story of future Hall-of-Famer Champ Bailey finally making a Super Bowl appearance, football is not a one- or two-man game.
Plenty of players have stepped up for the Broncos, who have suffered season-ending injuries to defensive players Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe and star offensive lineman Ryan Clady. These four are among 12 Broncos players on the injured reserve who will not suit up for the game, one of the highest-ever totals for a Super Bowl participant.
This countdown is a list of the 22 starters that most likely will be first on the field for Super Bowl 48. My list is based off the starting lineups for the AFC Championship game, where the Broncos defeated the New England Patriots.
22. Mike Adams, Free Safety
Mike Adams is an injury replacement for Rahim Moore, who had a great season coming off the Hail Flacco disaster of 2012. Adams is a solid spot player who doesn't make a lot of mistakes.
21. Malik Jackson, Defensive End
Malik Jackson is also another defensive replacement for Derek Wolfe, who was just beginning to shine as an up-and-coming defensive player for the Broncos. Wolfe suffered a season-ending neck injury earlier in the season. Jackson is not close to Wolfe, but is also a solid yet unspectacular defensive end who stops the run well.
20. Nate Irving, Outside Linebacker
Nate Irving is yet another defensive replacement, this time for All-Pro linebacker Von Miller. Irving has had his moments and is good enough to fill in at linebacker in spot duty.
19. Paris Lenon, Linebacker
Paris Lenon has been a solid, veteran linebacker who has filled in when starting middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard was hurt during the season.
While Lenon is nothing like he was three or four years ago, this linebacker makes good reads in the running game and will be a major factor in stopping Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.
18. Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle
Sylvester Williams is now playing like a first-round talent. Paired with Terrance Knighton, Williams has been a solid player against the run and can be effective as an inside pass rusher in spurts.
17. Manny Ramirez, Center
Manny Ramirez (no, not the former Boston Red Sox slugger) has had his best season as a pro. Ramirez was the third-string center before injuries led him to the starting lineups, where he now anchors a very underrated offensive line.
16. Duke Ihenacho, Strong Safety
Duke Ihenacho, aside from having a pretty cool name to pronounce, has been a major contributor and consistent player for a Broncos defense that is constantly changing players. Ihenacho had a breakout preseason and his play has only improved since.
15. Orlando Franklin, Right Tackle
Orlando Franklin is one of the more underrated linemen in the game today.
Franklin is a mauler in the running game, making holes for Knowshon Moreno and is also a solid presence in protecting Peyton Manning.
14. Chris Clark, Left Tackle
Chris Clark has filled in admirably for All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady.
Clark has been a major reason why Manning has not been sacked in two postseason games.
13. Zane Beadles, Left Guard
Zane Beadles is another mauler in the running game that has opened holes for Moreno and rookie Montee Ball, and has allowed the Broncos' offense to have a distinct advantage in time of possession.
12. Danny Trevathan, Outside Linebacker
Danny Trevathan, mostly known for his blunder in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, has turned into Denver's most consistent linebacker, leading the team in tackles.
Trevathan has the knack for making the big play when it matters most, like his interception against the Dallas Cowboys to set up the game-winning field goal.
11. Louis Vasquez, Right Guard
Louis Vasquez was the only Pro Bowler on the Broncos' offensive line in only his first season with the team.
After a solid run with the San Diego Chargers, Vasquez has vastly improved the line from the previous season.
10. Champ Bailey, Cornerback
Champ Bailey will go down as a future Hall-of-Famer and one of the greats to play the position.
Bailey mainly played nickel back and after Chris Harris Jr. was injured against the Chargers, Bailey moved back to the starting lineup. He is still a good player even though he has lost a step.
9. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cornerback
Rodgers-Cromartie is back in the Super Bowl as one of the best corners in the league, and he will be hoping that his first Super Bowl ring will lead him to a big contract down the road.
8. Shaun Phillips, Defensive End
Much like Vasquez, Shaun Phillips was a free agent signing from the San Diego Chargers and has made the Broncos forget about former star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil.
7. Terrance Knighton, Defensive Tackle
Terrance Knighton, also known as "Pot Roast", was one of the major signings in the offseason for the Broncos.
Knighton was reunited with former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, who is the current Broncos defensive coordinator. Knighton is an underappreciated player mostly known for his nickname rather than his play on the field.
6. Eric Decker, Wide Receiver
Here comes the run on offensive players. Eric Decker was one of three Broncos receivers who had 10 touchdowns on the season. Decker is the underappreciated receiver in the recieving corps who makes big-time plays in big-time games, like the second game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
5. Wes Welker, Wide Receiver
Wes Welker was the missing piece that made the Broncos' offense great rather than very good. Welker finally gave the Broncos a dependable receiver in the slot who can get first downs in big-game situations.
4. Knowshon Moreno, Running Back
The unsung player of the Denver offense, Knowshon Moreno was originally labeled a draft bust until Peyton Manning joined the team. Now, he is a major contributor in making the Bronco offense not just a passing team.
Moreno is able to capitalize on teams scheming to stop Peyton and the passing game.
3. Julius Thomas, Tight End
Julius Thomas has been Manning's go-to guy and security blanket who can make big catches when the game is on the line. Thomas came through to help run out the clock against the San Diego Chargers in the Broncos' first playoff win.
2. Demaryius Thomas, Wide Receiver
The best pass catcher of this group, Demaryius Thomas is slowly emerging as one of the best receivers in the game.
Once Aqib Talib was injured in the AFC Championship game, Thomas single-handedly took over the game and allowed the Broncos to reach Super Bowl 48.
1. Peyton Manning, Quarterback
No surprises here. Manning will cement his legacy as one of the top five quarterbacks of all time with his second Super Bowl win on his second team.
Three reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers are perfectly fine in the secondary
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a great chance of being the league's best offense this season and one of the most electrifying ever. But, the Steelers do have some issues on defense and it's been that way for the last few years, beginning with their secondary. However, here are three reasons why this year will be different and the Steelers should be at ease with their defensive backfield. Read More
Power Rankings: Rating the intrigue of each NFL team’s 2015 training camp
Which teams are going to be the most fun to follow during training camp? This week's list breaks it down. Read More
One game that can make or break the year for the Oakland Raiders
Looking at one game that can make or break the season for the Oakland Raiders. Read More