Projected Lineups: Denver Broncos

Rick Drummond looks over the Denver lineup, noting the strengths and weaknesses of its current state.

| 3 years ago

Projected Lineups: Denver Broncos

32-lineups-DENSteamrolling into the Super Bowl only to get throttled from the opening play, the Denver Broncos left some business unfinished.

With a top-to-bottom roster that was less polished than that of their title-game foes to begin with, possible free agent losses could drag them down still another peg if they aren’t able to secure or supplement those spots.

Their offensive leader isn’t getting any younger and their defensive star has had trouble staying on the field so making the most of the rest of the lineup is key if they’re going to make a follow-up run.

Here’s where the Broncos stand, minus any UFAs, as the opening of the 2014 league calendar approaches:

–  Player markers are colored per class on a five-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
–  Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
–  Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
–  Red player names suggest injury risks.
–  Click on the image to enlarge.

Lineup DEN

Roster Notes

–  Counting UFA Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie out of the lineup leave s a hole that will need addressing. There’s no telling how much longer Champ Bailey has in him and with RFA Chris Harris coming off an ACL tear in the playoffs, DRC certainly has some leverage, though the free agent CB class is a strong one and a more affordable option could be had.

–  There’s a lot of green along the O-line save for the left guard spot held down by Zane Beadles for most of the past four seasons. With Beadles a free agent (and turning in subpar grades in 2013 anyway), targeting a filler there would be a finishing touch to an already excellent unit.

–  That red circle sticks out like a sore thumb and will be a spot free agent receivers around the league will be lining up to get a crack at. Who wouldn’t want to jump in and become a part of Peyton’s passing party before he calls it a career?

–  Von Miller’s multiple absences from the lineup hammered home the need for an improved supporting cast in the pass rush department. In two years of trying, Derek Wolfe has done nothing but prove himself unfit for the job, though Malik Jackson and Terrance Knighton each showed some get-upfield ability.

2014 Cap Situation

A $16.4M cap space figure (per has Denver in the middle of the pack as far as spending ability goes, but their areas of need are going to require them looking at some of the priciest positions out there, so what they have will go fast. There is, however, some opportunity for them to create a bit of additional space…

Potential Casualties

The $10M owed to Bailey in 2014 has to be first on the mind of the Bronco brass as the chance for gain is obvious. The aging vet can still play, but working out some sort of cut to help the team in what may be his final run seems likely. Likewise, the $8M set for Welker could come down and the redundant duo of Dreessen and Tamme would get back $2.5 or $3M, respectively, if one is let go. Additionally, Chris Kuper, despite Beadles’ possible departure ahead of him on the depth chart, is another screaming for a pay cut if not a release. Logging just 108 snaps in 2013 — and just 410 in a 2012 that ended with him being taken to task in the divisional playoff loss to Baltimore — he represents a savings of over $4M.

Opportunities from the Roster

Rookie corner Kayvon Webster held his own for a stretch in the middle of the season before falling off late. On a roster staring at the potential of going off a cliff at the position, he could turn out to be important young help. Malik Jackson was mentioned above, but him coming into his own as a pass rusher would help the front office breathe a lot easier – cheap pressure is the best kind. Could Chris Clark take on an inside spot? Playing in place of Ryan Clady at left tackle for most of the season, Clark put up a +16.8 overall grade in the first extended playing time of his six-year career; ranking him among the top half of the league’s left tackles for the year. We’ve seen some entrenched tackles slide inside when needed, perhaps there’s a left guard solution in-house.


Projected lineups by team:



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  • Rick S.

    Surprised Vasquez wasn’t blue, or even have a blue outline. Except for Ienacho at SS, all of Denver’s below average or risky players are placeholders due to expiring contracts. I would also consider Safety as a position of need for Denver.

    Denver had a lot of contracts expire this season, so Elway and co will have their work cut out for them. While they have been hit or miss in the draft, they’ve been money in free agency the last few years. This year is unique in that they have to decide between other teams’ FAs verse bringing back their own guys and they also have to consider locking down some guys who are FAs next year, (Chris Harris, Demarious Thomas, Julius Thomas)…

    • Thomas James

      He had an elite grade in PFT’s own system this past year, so I guess they are projecting he will fall off a little in 2014. Doesn’t really matter as there are only two types of players in the NFL: those who do their jobs and those who don’t. Vasquez’s 2013 form definitely falls into the former category. :)
      It will be interesting to see what they do. I think Harris will play out on his RFA tender due to his horrifically timed (as far as his wallet is concerned at the very least) ACL injury, but they do seem intent on resigning the Thomas’s. This is honestly a good team even if they don’t add anybody, the additions may be more unheralded like a wise old free agent everyone else avoids (Julius Peppers maybe?) or an undrafted free agent nobody sees coming.

      • Thomas James

        Sorry again, PFF not PFT.

  • Tyler Lesley

    Hard to argue with any of this other than Wolfe is a better player than you are giving him credit for.

    • O

      PFF doesn’t understand the concept of schemes. Is Wolfe a good pass rusher? No. But he’s a big part of the success of the run defense.

      • jim

        Red Bryant is used in a similar role and ..I’m not sure if he’s rated green or not.

      • ZackD

        So he’s a one dimensional player then? What should his color be?

        And the scheme claim is the same one Steelers use for Ziggy Hood poor pass rush rating

        • O

          Firstly, Wolfe improved largely as a pass rusher in 2013. It’s just that Von Miller being out forced him to rush more from a 4-3 DE position, when he’s 6’5″ and 290+ pounds. When it comes to pass rushing, he’s definitely a DT.

          But as I said, PFF has no concept of schemes. Wolfe is integral to the run defense, he’s one of the defense’s most important run defenders. Wolfe allows the Denver DLine to win the battle against the run consistently with their 4 down lineman, whether it’s nickel or base. A big part of Woodyard’s decline at MLB was because Wolfe went out, when Wolfe is in he’s two gapping and taking double teams, freeing up the linebackers.

        • Tim W

          Vince Wilfork is one dimensional, and he’s dark green(high quality starter)

    • Thomas James

      Like all projected lineups you have to take the color grades with a grain of salt, as predicting the future is an inexact art from what I have heard. These don’t always even match PFT’s own grading system which take scheming more into account and had Derek Wolfe graded very highly as a run defender at one point (can’t remember exactly when, think it was 2012). Unfortunately since last year was largely lost due to that terrible injury, Wolfe does need to prove himself in 2014 or the Denver portion of his career could be in trouble.

      • Thomas James

        PFF, not PFT. My bad.

  • Thomas James

    Lots of blue and green so looks good! Offense looks pretty much set barring injury, wide receiver depth, and a heavy training camp battle at HB (when John Fox is involved never rule out the veteran running back, even if he is an unheralded free agent signing, winning the competition over the young guy. See Lamar Smith, Stephen Davis, DeShaun Foster, DeAngelo Williams, Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno).
    Defense has Knighton, Trevethan, Miller, and Rahim Moore (harsh grade there PFF, harsh. Green border at least?) as building blocks. Jackson, Wolfe, and Irving have been proven as solid contributors in an NFL rotation as have Mitch Unrein and Kevin Vickerson at DT. Jackson, Ihenacho, Kayvon Webster, and Tony Carter (he emerged in 2012, regressed last year) need to prove they weren’t one year wonders as decent contributors. Wiley vet the player’s Champ Bailey will have all offseason to find a niche in the secondary. Need to find some young guys to step up (drafted/undrafted, I couldn’t care less) and a few cheap veteran FAs who the rest of the league has given up on to challenge them in some good training camp battles. That can pretty much be said for every team in the league though, so it is all good! 😀

  • mattatencio93

    I don’t understand. How can Von Miller be considered elite, but DAL LB Sean Lee isn’t?

  • Rollston Frangopoulos

    This isn’t very accurate, I’m sorry. Whoever decided this doesn’t know much about the Broncos. If Wolfe comes back from his injury he’s a solid starter/valuable role player. Tony Carter will never start except in a pinch or injury. Nate Irving has been moved to the outside to replace Von when he’s hurt and back him up when he’s not. Jacob Tamme is most likely gone. Trindon Holliday is gone, and even if he weren’t, Andre Caldwell would take that WR spot as a below average starter, but I suspect someone else will be brought in for that. Chris Kuper will be cut. Clark will either fill that Left Guard spot, or he’ll move the RT and Franklin will move the Left Guard spot. Champ Bailey is gone. DRC may come back, but if he doesn’t it will be some other high quality CB otherwise this defense is screwed. Duke will most likely not start again, which means we need a safety. MLB is the other position that will need to get filled through FA or the draft. Might move Danny T over and get another will, possibly Woodyard back in his more natural spot, but he’s looking for greener pastures. May not find much what with his injury history.

  • Tim W

    Andre Caldwell would start over Trindon Holliday

  • Jack Huber

    Thanks for all this work on the 32 teams.
    Are you planning on updating these based on Free Agency acquisitions?