The 2019 season a week away from getting underway. Fans have waited seven months for meaningful football to be back and Denver fans especially have quite the welcoming back. With a new quarterback and head coach, things will be different in the Rockies this year. Here are my preseason superlatives for this upcoming 2019 season.
Breakout player: WR Courtland Sutton
Courtland Sutton had quite the productive year in 2018 as a rookie. With Demaryius Thomas traded and an injury to Emmanuel Sanders, Sutton had pressure to produce. He delivered, as the rookie grabbed 42 passes for 704 yards and 4 touchdowns. Expect Sutton to only improve on those numbers in 2019 and start growing a connection with Joe Flacco and this Denver offense.
Comeback kid: WR Emmanuel Sanders
Tragedy struck in 2018 as veteran leader Emmanuel Sanders went down with an Achilles tear. Sanders has had a quick recovery and looks to be good to go when week one against Oakland comes around. His return will be crucial to Joe Flacco and the offense’s success this season. I think Sanders bounces back just fine and returns to being one of the top receivers in the league.
Rising star: RB Phillip Lindsay
Denver’s offense was mostly unproductive in 2018. One of the few bright spots was then-rookie running back, Phillip Lindsay. In his rookie campaign, Lindsay racked up over 1,000 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns, earning his way to a Pro Bowl in his first season. The Broncos have shown they plan to use more of a committee backfield in 2019, but I expect Lindsay to play a crucial part in the Broncos’ offense still.
Don’t forget about: DL Shelby Harris
When discussing the Denver Broncos’ defense, the conversation revolves around Chris Harris Jr., Von Miller, and Bradley Chubb. One of the forgotten names is Shelby Harris. In limited snap opportunities for Denver in 2018, Harris was able to still amass the 2nd most pressures among the defensive line. Harris should see his snap count jump up in 2019, and his productivity will no doubt rise as well.
Needs to rebound: QB Joe Flacco
Quarterback Joe Flacco has had quite the career. A budding superstar in his early years, Flacco won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and took home the MVP trophy as well. Since then, however, his status as a franchise QB has taken a dip. The Ravens selected Lamar Jackson to be their franchise signal-caller, trading Joe Flacco to Denver. Denver is hoping Flacco can restart his career in the Rockies, providing this Denver team new life.
Darkhorse MVP: LB Bradley Chubb
No player on the Denver roster may have as high as expectations from the league as 2nd-year linebacker Bradley Chubb. Chubb burst onto the scene his rookie year as he manhandled offensive lines on his way to a 12 sack season. Thus far in 2019, he has shown no reason to think he will slow down. It might be a bold prediction, but in 2019, I think Chubb leads this daunting defense in sacks, besting Von Miller. He might even play his way into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
Under the radar: CB De’Vante Bausby
Throughout preseason and training camp, no player may have helped themselves more than cornerback, De’Vante Bausby. Bausby has been a ballhawk so far coming into this season. The former AAF star has made impact plays and looks to have himself a spot on the final roster. He likely won’t be an immediate start; however, he may see playing time as a nickel/dime corner or as a reserve as a depth player in case of injuries. He is a player Denver fans should be certainly excited to see growth from.