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The Broncos make for an intriguing team to watch this year after an uninspiring 2019 campaign finishing middle of the pack at 7-9. With that being said, it looks like they may have found the face of the franchise in QB Drew Lock, a second round pick in last year’s draft. The former Missouri Tiger came into the fold with 5 games left of the season and managed a pretty impressive 4-1 record. Lock recorded wins against AFC West rivals, the formerly known Oakland Raiders and the LA Chargers. A win against a poor Lions team and a playoff bound Houston Texans capped off a decent start for Lock. The only game the Broncos lost in the last 5 games was against future Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs. With 7 touchdowns against 3 interceptions and 1020 passing yards, look for a big jump in year 2.
Free agency came for the Broncos with some tough decisions to be made in the defensive backfield. The most challenging was who to give the franchise tag to. The Broncos elected to put the tag on Safety Justin Simmons and allow veteran cornerback Chris Harris Jr to find a payday elsewhere. The Broncos didn’t wait around to replace Harris Jnr, trading a 4th round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for AJ Bouye, a proven player in the league.
The Broncos next move was to protect Drew Lock signing free agent Centre/Guard Graham Glasgow, one of the better offensive linemen available in free agency. Another move on offence was the acquisition of former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon lll joining Philip Lindsay in the running back room. Gordon’s contract holdout with the Chargers did him no favours, the Broncos have pulled off a master stroke. Gordon will have a fire in his belly, and will look forward to playing against his former employers. I expect Gordon to be a key player in the redzone, with 47 touchdowns thus far in his 5 years in the league. Gordon is expected to have a major year when the 2020 campaign gets going.
The Broncos also picked up Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey, a veteran in the league from the Tennessee Titans. He has proven that he can get to the QB, with 51 sacks in 9 years in the league. Expect him to cause havoc and to create some lanes for talented outside line backers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
The Broncos had a glaring need at wide receiver going into the Draft, and what a year to do it. This class was fully stacked with potential game changers. The Broncos unsurprisingly selected one of the top 3 receivers with their first pick when Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy fell kindly into their lap. At 6ft 1 and 192lb, the Broncos have got a WR who can do a bit of everything. His route running is by far the best in this class, expect him to make an immediate impact opposite Courtland Sutton.
With their second pick, the Broncos doubled down on receiver selecting KJ Hamler from Penn State. The speedy slot receiver wasn’t able to run the 40 yard dash at the combine due to a hamstring injury. His pro day was also cancelled due to the global pandemic that has currently affected all sports worldwide. The Broncos receiver room is now stacked with young players with big potential.
Centre Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU) and cornerback Michael Ojemudia (Iowa) were the Broncos 3rd round picks. I expect Cushenberry to be a day 1 starter once the season rolls around. An interesting pick in the 4th round with TE Albert Okwuegbunam from Missouri, Drew Lock’s TE in college. He will provide a safety blanket for Lock, alongside Noah Fant who had a good rookie year, amassing 562 yards and 3 TDs from 40 receptions.
The Broncos were hit with some big injuries in the 2019 season with outside linebacker Bradley Chubb suffering a devastating ACL injury after a promising rookie year. Chubb managed 12 sacks in his rookie year and was always in the opposition backfield. Expect him and Miller to have a great year in 2020. With the current Super Bowl winners in their division, having 2 excellent pass rushers to get to Mahomes will be key if the Broncos are to have any chance of beating the Chiefs to the top of the AFC West.
Another player coming back from injury is Ja’Wuan James, a free agent addition from the Miami Dolphins in 2019. They made him the highest paid right tackle in the league and had plenty of hope for him. He only managed to play 3 games last year due to a torn MCL and a later torn meniscus. If he can get himself back to full fitness, expect Drew Lock to have a great offensive line to play behind.
The Broncos roster looks fully stacked on offence (Lock at QB, Gordon and Lindsay at RB, Sutton, Jeudy and Hamler at WR, Fant, Vannett and Okwuegbunam at TE). An offensive line of Garett Boles, Dalton Risner, Cushenberry, Glasgow and James should give Lock plenty of time in the pocket. Running backs Gordon and Lindsay should have plenty of holes to hit. The weak point remains at left tackle, however Boles did showed improvements as the season wore on.
Vic Fangio is one of the best defensive minds in the game. I expect the Broncos to be very strong next year. Ranked 12th in yards per game allowed and 10th in points per game allowed, Fangio knows what’s needed at this level to keep you in a position to win every game.
The defensive side of the ball looks fierce. Defensive Line Casey, Purcell and Harris, are supported by inside linebackers Johnson and Davis. Rival quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr and Tyrod Taylor/ Justin Herbert should all be having nightmares about game wrecking outside linebackers Miller and Chubb. The two main starting corners will be AJ Bouye and Bryce Callahan with plenty of healthy competition in this area of the roster.
The Broncos for me are one of the teams who can expect a great season ahead. They have filled the needs that they had in the offseason through free agency and the draft. With a favourable schedule and the addition of the extra playoff place, I could realistically see the Broncos potentially going 10-6. A strong season lies ahead for the Broncos if Drew Lock takes the step up that the organisation expects in year two. They have backed their QB this offseason with the moves they have made and I can’t wait to watch them once the season starts.