View Full Version : Maybe the best Broncos position by position review yet, by Scouts Inc. Detailed.
07-20-2005, 11:36 PM
this one i actually thought was better than the scouts.com one even. Very good stuff here, although they did make a mistake when they called Jashon Joshua and when they said DJ won the DROY...but who am I to argue. :)
On the surface, 2004 seemed to be a huge breakthrough for Jake Plummer, who threw for over 4,089 yards and 27 touchdowns, and was one of the league's more exciting quarterbacks to watch. But a closer look reveals the same inconsistencies and mistakes that have plagued him throughout his career. Plummer still throws too many interceptions (20 last year) and forces too many throws into tight spots. He is surprisingly impatient for a veteran, which often leads to turnovers that kill drives and change momentum.
Nevertheless, this is Plummer's team, and coach Mike Shanahan continues to stand by his hand-picked man. Denver's offseason efforts to find a good veteran to back up Plummer were fruitless, and the trio of castoff Danny Kanell and second-year players Matt Mauck and Bradlee Van Pelt won't strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
Kanell lacks the physical tools to win consistently, but is smart and provides a good sounding board for Plummer. Mauck and Van Pelt are still learning and have several serious shortcomings. If Plummer cuts down on his mistakes, the Broncos' offense can be good. If not, it will be merely average.
Being the No. 1 back in Denver is a sweet gig, and there is no shortage of candidates for the job. Recent Broncos' feature backs -- often unproven -- have regularly churned out 1,000-yard seasons behind an athletic offensive line. That bodes well for young Tatum Bell, the favorite to start after last year's most productive back, Rueben Droughns, was traded to Cleveland in the offseason.
Bell is an explosive speed back, seemingly a perfect fit for the team's blocking scheme. But he gets nicked up a lot and must show better patience and decision-making skills as a runner. Quentin Griffin is undersized, injury-prone and unlikely to hold up to the pounding that a full-time back absorbs. But he is shifty and, like Bell, explosive.
Free agent Ron Dayne will get a chance as the No. 3 back, but his lack of burst to the hole seems to make him a poor fit in Denver. Third-round pick Maurice Clarett is an intriguing player whose running style could mesh nicely. He could emerge as a factor early on. Veteran Mike Anderson can be a swing guy who plays some fullback, catches passes and takes some short-yardage carries. Starting fullback Kyle Johnson catches well and gives Denver more in-line blocking ability than it has had at the position in some time. There is a lot here to sort out in training camp.
07-20-2005, 11:37 PM
RiceA strange brew of old and new, this unit holds some promise. The elder statesmen are Rod Smith, 35, and newly acquired Jerry Rice, 43. Smith still is a clutch receiver and a great blocker. He finds holes in coverage and can separate with first-step quickness, but no longer is a deep threat. At this stage, he essentially is a complementary receiver, though a very good one.
Rice is in the same boat, though his separation skills are far more suspect than those of Smith. Still, Rice can vie for the No. 4 spot and contribute 30-40 catches. The key to this unit is speedster Ashley Lelie, who in 2004 showed flashes of his immense potential by averaging a whopping 20.1 yards per catch. If he can avoid the inconsistency and lapses in focus that have been his downfall in the past, he can be an elite receiver and the big-play guy this offense needs.
Young Darius Watts has a pretty firm grip on the No. 3 role and has significant upside. He is fast and explosive, but his route-running consistency must improve. Facing plenty of single man-to-man matchups, he could have a big year. Triandos Luke and Charlie Adams will compete for the No. 5 job, but neither is an exciting long-term prospect. Lelie is the key to the success of this unit.
Jeb Putzier isn't a household name, but is an important player to this organization. That's why Denver matched the lucrative offer sheet Putzier, a restricted free agent, received from the New York Jets in the offseason. He is a quality pass-catching tight end and a good security blanket for Plummer. He has deceptive speed the Broncos would like to exploit more often on downfield throws. He isn't a physical blocker at the point of attack, but that job is filled effectively by veteran Dwayne Carswell.
Carswell, who was briefly switched to offensive tackle before last season, is powerful and effective on run plays. Veterans Patrick Hape and Stephen Alexander will compete for the No. 2 pass-catching role, but both are aging and have declining skills. Hape is still a decent blocker and could contribute in some jumbo packages.
Alexander always has been injury-prone and has lost some speed, but he is a solid possession guy. Nate Jackson still needs to add bulk after being moved from wide receiver, but has good hands and some upside. Though this group isn't flashy, it is stable and Putzier easily could post a 50-catch season.
The Broncos' offensive line has long lacked stars, but ranked among the league's best by playing to the strengths of its smart, athletic group. Center Tom Nalen, 34, still is the anchor of this unit, but must get by on great angles and position at this point. And like most of Denver's linemen, he struggles when he is covered and has to play with power. Left guard Ben Hamilton is tough and physical, and is versatile enough to play center, which may happen after Nalen retires.
Perennial backup Cooper Carlisle gets a shot at Dan Neil's right guard spot, but must take advantage of his good feet and movement skills, and show more consistency. Matt Lepsis has made a successful transition from right tackle to the left side, where his athleticism is put to better use. He still struggles some in power situations.
Big and powerful right tackle George Foster is finally starting to play up to expectations, but is prone to occasional mistakes. Backup interior depth will come from veteran Cameron Spikes, Tim Stuber and youngster Josh Sewell. Backup help at tackle will come from Anthony Clement, Cornell Green and rookie Chris Myers, but none is a great option. As good as this group has been, it's not deep and can't afford injuries.
07-20-2005, 11:39 PM
This unit isn't lacking for big names, but finding the right mix and keeping the linemen healthy and motivated will be quite a feat. Former Browns Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Myers will be reunited with position coach Andre Patterson. But keep in mind that these players would still be in Cleveland if they hadn't been such spectacular underachievers.
End Trevor Pryce is coming off a serious disc problem (14 missed games last season), but is this unit's best player when healthy. Early indications were that Pryce would be 100 percent heading into training camp. Veteran Raylee Johnson and former No. 1 pick Courtney Brown should square off for the other starting end spot.
Ekuban, Marco Coleman and Anton Palepoi provide adequate depth, but no star power. At tackle, prospects are just as uncertain. Projected starters are Gerard Warren, a supremely talented underachiever, and Monsanto Pope, who is powerful and quick, but wears down easily.
Mario Fatafehi is a quick penetrator with starting experience, and Michael Myers and Luther Ellis are grizzled, but competent depth guys. To further complicate matters, the Broncos will tinker with some 3-4 fronts. This unit might be OK collectively, but it likely will take a surprise or two and a lot of lineup management to provide anything more than decent production.
Denver's coaching staff is so excited about this unit that it has considered using some schemes to get its top four linebackers on the field at once. The cornerstone is middle man Al Wilson, who ranked second on the team in tackles last year. He is a leader, has great range and does a nice job of filling vs. the interior run.
This unit's best player, however, is second-year strong side linebacker D.J. Williams, who last season led the Broncos in tackles (114) and won the NFL rookie of the year award. Williams will get caught guessing at times, but is a rare athlete who has big-time range and playmaking skills.
GoldSpeedster Ian Gold returns to the weak side in Denver after a one-year tour in Tampa Bay. He is the ultimate space player and has the range, blitzing ability and cover skills to provide versatility. The wild card is Patrick Chukwurah, who is listed as a middle linebacker but has some edge-rush qualities that could make him an outside option when the Broncos use a 3-4 alignment on passing downs.
Terry Pierce backs up Williams, but his progress has been disappointing thus far. Joshua Sykes and Louis Green -- backups on the weak side -- have similar stories. Veteran Keith Burns is a good cover man who provides depth in the middle, but is small and aging. This unit should be one of the league's best, but injuries would be trouble.
07-20-2005, 11:41 PM
When the Broncos traded for cornerback Champ Bailey before last season, it was assumed the franchise finally had its true shutdown corner. What they got was a good -- but not great -- player who had only three interceptions and gave up more than his share of big plays. Still, Bailey remains one of the NFL's most talented cover men and likely will have a bounce-back year in 2005.
Lenny Walls is big and rangy, but doesn't show great cover skills (especially in tight man-to-man situations) and isn't an ideal perimeter starter. The Broncos responded by drafting three corners in the second and third rounds of April's amateur draft. Darrent Williams is small and fast. He will compete for a nickel or dime role and double as a return specialist. Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth have upside, but need seasoning.
The favorite for the nickel spot is Willie Middlebrooks, who is skilled and showed progress last season, but remains inconsistent. Roc Alexander played extensively in '04 and fellow second-year man Jeff Shoate adds more depth. Free safety John Lynch still is a good leader and an intimidating hitter, but is a liability in coverage and would be a two-down player in a perfect world.
Sam Brandon, Nick Ferguson and Chris Young will compete for the strong safety spot vacated by Kennoy Kennedy. Each has similar skills, but none figures to match Kennedy's production. The secondary has plenty of bodies, but few complete players and little stability.
The best asset here is kicker Jason Elam 35, who still has a strong leg and shows excellent accuracy and consistency. Last year, Elam converted three of four kicks from 50 yards or more and still gets excellent distance on kickoffs. The rest of Denver's special teams aren't quite so special. Punter Chris Baker is versatile but inconsistent, and the Broncos can't afford the luxury of a punter who excels on kickoffs but not punts.
A year ago, Triandos Luke, Roc Alexander and Quentin Griffin all got a shot as return specialists -- along with Rod Smith and departed Rueben Droughns -- but the results were less than satisfactory. Rookie second-round pick Darrent Williams, a potentially explosive playmaker, could take over kickoff and punt return duties if he shows he can handle both jobs.
Long snapper Mike Leach is no better than an average option. The team might look for an upgrade during training camp. The cover teams, which haven't been up to snuff, will be a focus during the preseason. The coaching staff at least believes it has some good young players to improve this unit.
07-20-2005, 11:41 PM
The Broncos have been one of the league's most stable and consistent organizations, one with little upheaval or change among its decision-makers. Mike Shanahan clearly is the voice of this team and owner Pat Bowlen has been fiercely loyal, but it is hard to shake the sense that the coach is under some pressure to restore the team to its place among the NFL's upper crust.
For better or worse, Shanahan is committed to quarterback Jake Plummer, which means that the better Plummer plays, the more security the coaching staff enjoys. The Broncos' philosophies on offense and defense are very well defined, and the organization has done an excellent job of finding players to fit the system rather than the other way around. Shanahan is an underrated talent evaluator who works well with general manager Ted Sundquist.
Shanahan is a brilliant offensive innovator, and has a lot of trust in coordinator Gary Kubiak. The rest of the offensive staff is experienced. Last year, defensive coordinator Larry Coyer adeptly managed a defense that had little depth even before injuries hit. He will feature an attacking scheme and, most likely, some 3-4 looks. With so many new faces on the roster, chemistry will be key. This is a staff of teachers, and these Broncos need just that.
07-20-2005, 11:42 PM
This was a really high quality review here, i dont think ive seen one this good breaking down the Broncos in awhile. Props to Scouts Inc.
07-20-2005, 11:44 PM
Williams won the ROY? When did that happen?
07-20-2005, 11:50 PM
I really liked the "this is a staff of teachers" comment about the staff.
07-21-2005, 03:20 AM
i agree. most balanced analysis on the board so far. now, using this as a launching platform, 10-6 sounds about right. again.
07-21-2005, 03:53 AM
Best analysis of anything printed. Of course, I wrote it myself.
Very few errors. I think Raylee Johnson is a FA tho. D.J. wasn't rookie of the year, but pretty deserving. The rest is seamless.
We need someone like this to write for the Post or RMN.
Get real, compare that article to Burger Bill, who apparently is gone.
I would still like to see the Wabbit get a gig, but who knows.
Even dated since Middlebrooks is gone, it's an excellent article.
Who wrote it?
Billy Clyde Puckett
07-21-2005, 06:28 AM
Great find SoCal.
Very good read thought saying Elam is a good kick off man is certainly not true.
07-21-2005, 07:07 AM
Pretty good for this kind of national BS. I found a ton of mistakes -- Joshua Sykes? Who? The o-line and d-line rotations were not right. Marco Coleman will be competing with Brown and Trevor for DE playing time, not Johnson. The o-line is kind of a mystery because players are more versatile, but I still didn't think they were accurate -- Meyers at tackle? Who is Stuber? No one seems to know where Carswell will play. Eventhough he wasn't ROY, we all know DJ should have been. How old is this thing if they think Elam is going to kick off?
Anyway.. it was a pretty good and balanced point of view.
07-21-2005, 07:20 AM
Fair assessment of the team in general. Lot's of real depth errors that you would expect from a national writer who does not talk to these guys every day.
1. Left out Tyson Clabo as a RG Prospect.
2. Made the same underachiever comment on the former Browns Linemen without considering the 3-4 switch by Romeo Crennel.
3. Probably written before the Midllebrooks trade, but should have made note of that, I know I would.
4. The LB's have tested depth now and he still thinks that it could be a problem.
5. Good job of evaluating the CB's, but horrible on the safeties. Does not even mention Leseuer or Browner as coverage guys at FS.
6. Best actual analysis was of the coaching staff, however, he fails to mention Slowik and Doll making the Defensive staff much better this offseason.
07-21-2005, 09:58 AM
A well thought out piece, which id why it excels at being a bit more fair in it's analysis. With all the flaws mentioned though, it makes me thin the author simply made some pretty good guesses. I mean how long ago did we get rid of Baker at punter?
07-21-2005, 10:04 AM
Very good read thought saying Elam is a good kick off man is certainly not true.
Chris Baker at punter and no mention of Sauerbrun or Ernster? Seems to be a good look at an old roster.