By Tylor Walden on May 18, 2014
With the NFL Draft completed, many fans will question how their favorite team will look like heading into the 2014 NFL season. While the Denver Broncos were only one win away from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, they will have a few new faces to help make a second attempt at accomplishing the goal.
With that in mind, take a look at who I believe will be the Broncos' starters when the 2014 NFL season begins.
When you have the greatest regular season quarterback on your roster, there is no doubt that he will be the Week 1 starter. Peyton Manning will look to build off of his 2013 year in which he broke numerous records and won an NFL record fifth MVP. If something were to happen to Manning, Brock Osweiler would be the next quarterback in line.
With the departure of Knowshon Moreno, the second year running back out of Wisconsin figures to be the main man carrying the football. Expect Montee Ball to have a breakout year as long as he can improve on some of the weakness he has. Running back C.J. Anderson is expected to be the backup.
The Denver Broncos have one of the most elite group of wide receivers in the league today. With so many options in the passing game, it will be difficult for defenders to cover them all. The two wideouts I see starting are Thomas and Sanders, with Wes Welker filling the slot role once again. Andre Caldwell and rookie wideout Cody Latimer should see time as well.
Around this time last year, the Broncos could have gone with any tight end on the roster. When Julius Thomas broke out in the opener against the Baltimore Ravens, he became that consistent player for the offense. Look for Thomas to have an even bigger year as he tries to establish himself as one of the best tight ends currently playing in the league. Virgil Green will most likely be the backup.
Ryan Clady is coming off of a Lisfranc injury that sidelined him early in the 2013 season while Chris Clark struggled to begin the season but found his groove. Both look to help improve an offensive line that was pushed around in the Super Bowl.
Louis Vasquez is coming off a Pro Bowl caliber season in which he did not allow a single sack, so he figures to be a shoo-in at guard. Orlando Franklin is a tackle being moved to guard. If he does not respond well to the move, look for Will Montgomery to potentially take his spot.
Manny Ramirez figures to get the nod at center again this year. He won the job after Dan Koppen tore his ACL during training camp. He has been in the league for a few years now and looks to help strengthen the offensive line. Will Montgomery is his backup in case Ramirez either gets injured or shifts to another position on the line.
One of the biggest offseason acquisitions in free agency, DeMarcus Ware looks to bring pressure to the quarterback from the first wave. Working in the 4-3 scheme should benefit Ware as he will play on the left side. Derek Wolfe is coming off of a scary spinal cord/seizure injury but claims he is in great shape and should win the battle at right end.
Terrance Knighton was quite the surprise last year stopping the run and getting to the quarterback, so he should be a lock for the three-technique position. Kevin Vickerson is coming off of a season-ending injury and could be competing with Sylvester Williams for the nose tackle position. Vickerson is the favorite now, but look for Williams to take over should things change.
Von Miller is still recovering from a late-season ACL injury, so it could be Brandon Marshall who gets the start at Sam if Miller is not fully recovered. Danny Trevathan will get the start at Will because of his ability to drop back in coverage. The Broncos' seventh-round draft pick Corey Nelson could see limited action as well.
With how unproductive Nate Irving has been at middle linebacker for the Broncos, I am going to say Lamin Barrow, who the Broncos drafted with their fifth-round pick, beats him out and becomes the starting middle linebacker. Barrow, like Trevathan, can play the pass as well and create pressure on the quarterback. Look for him to bring some of the Orange Crush to the Broncos' defense.
One of the most difficult corners to separate from, the Broncos figure to place Aqib Talib on the opponent's top receiver. Bradley Roby will cover the other side and bring physical play to the secondary with his hard hitting and coverage. Chris Harris will look to get time as well once he recovers from his ACL injury.
Rahim Moore was another player on the Broncos' roster who was hit with a bizarre medical injury. His season was cut short after the Sunday Night game against the Kansas City Chiefs. He has been one of the more solid players on the defense and will look to get 2014 off on the right foot.
Another player who was acquired during free agency, T.J. Ward brings the hard hitting play to the Broncos' secondary. It would be wise for quarterbacks to not throw the ball in the middle of the field if they do not want their receivers to get rocked by the former Cleveland Brown.
There's no question about it; Matt Prater will be the starting kicker after only missing one field goal and converting an NFL record 64-yarder in 2013. Britton Colquitt will return as the punter, but he will get a minor push from Steven Clark. Aaron Brewer will return as the long snapper. As of now, returning duties will go to Omar Bolden with Isaiah Burse a dark horse candidate for the job.
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