The Denver Broncos open the 2018 season tonight at Mile High with the Minnesota Vikings.
With the release of the depth chart this week, we have a clear picture of what we’ll be seeing tonight. Of course Case Keenum is the starting QB and Von Miller is starting at “Will” linebacker.
Beyond that, there are a lot of positions we will be taking an intent look at tonight. Conor McGovern holds the starting left guard honors over Menelik Watson. As key as the offensive line revamp is, McGovern will be under the spotlight. Veldheer, Bolles, Paradis and Leary are the clear starters at their respective positions. If Conor can gel with that group, the Broncos will have their most stability on the line in years.
Among the other starters with tenuous holds on the job are Jeff Heuerman, a strong push from Jake Butt and the talented Austin Traylor make tight-end one of the more interesting battles in camp.
Devontae Booker holds the top spot at RB, not really shocking but Royce Freeman, D’Angelo Henderson and the sentimental favorite Phillip Lindsay have all had solid work throughout early camp. Freeman, the Broncos third-round draft pick has shown more wiggle than anticipated and might have the inside track to the starting job. Arkansas rookie Dave Williams has also made his mark at camp and rounds off a deep, talented RB troop.
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Among the more celebrated of rookie performances, Courtland Sutton has many questioning how he fell to the second round of the NFL draft. Sutton’s crazy rise up the depth chart has him currently backing up Emmanuel Sanders. If his camp performance translates to game-day success, it’s going to be hard to keep Sutton off the field. We were excited about Courtland back on draft day and his performance hasn’t disappointed. Look for a healthy dose of him and fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton in tonight’s game. Working with Paxton Lynch will test the abilities of the two young receivers.
On the defensive side, Bradley Chubb has moved into the starting Mike Linebacker spot over Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray. While that may be a no-brainer, it’s important for Denver to get snaps for Barrett and Ray. The pass rush is only bolstered by the success of the two “backup” linebackers.
DeMarcus Walker sits behind Adam Gotsis at the defensive end spot. A darling last year, Walker has regressed somewhat in camp. Gotsis, with pending legal trouble may not be available to Denver for portions of the upcoming season. Walker, Zach Kerr and Clinton McDonald will need to pick up that slack, if needed. Kerr has shown well and McDonald is a solid veteran.
In the backfield, Isaac Yiadom has had a fantastic beginning to camp and sits second on the depth chart behind ‘No Fly’ founder Chris Harris, Jr. A good look at Yiadom’s skills should be on tap tonight.
Others we will be looking at to see if they can perform in game situations are Josey Jewell, Keishawn Bierra and Sam Jones. All 2018 draft choices and all expected to immediately contribute.
There is a lot that the Broncos need to learn in camp this year. If the players that have excelled in practice continue that excellence in game situations, Denver will be competitive in a stacked AFC West.
We’ll know a lot more after tonight’s game.