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Denver Broncos Depth Chart: Is Drew Lock still the answer at QB?

A depth chart ravaged by injuries in 2020, the Denver Broncos hope to make the leap, but it all begins and ends with Drew Lock’s maturation.

Denver Broncos Depth Chart: Is Drew Lock still the answer at QB?

Will Drew Lock still be the future of the Denver Broncos or could they select a new QB during the 2022 NFL Draft to lead their depth chart? The Broncos are still a team with talent in critical places. Let’s see how their roster breaks down and if they have the talent to win a talented AFC West.

Denver Broncos Depth Chart

Here’s everything as it currently stands on June 7.

Offense

Quarterback: Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Rypien

Running Back: Melvin Gordon, Javonte Williams, Royce Freeman, Mike Boone, LeVante Bellamy, Damarea Crockett

Wide Receiver: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, Seth Williams, Diontae Spencer, Tyrie Cleveland, Trinity Benson, Kendall Hinton, Damion Willis, DeVontres Dukes, Branden Mack, Warren Jackson, Trinity Benson

Tight End: Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Eric Saubert, Austin Fort, Shaun Beyer, Andrew Beck (TE/FB)

Offensive Tackle: Garett Bolles, Bobby Massie, Cameron Fleming, Drew Himmelman, Quinn Bailey, Calvin Anderson, Cody Conway

Offensive Guard: Dalton Risner, Graham Glasgow, Austin Schlottmann, Netane Muti, Nolan Laufenberg, Patrick Morris

Center: Lloyd Cushenberry, Quinn Meinerz

Defense

Nose Tackle: Mike Purcell, Shamar Stephen, DeShawn Williams

Defensive End: Dre’Mont Jones, Shelby Harris, Jonathan Harris, McTelvin Agim, Marquiss Spencer, Deyon Sizer, Isaiah Mack

EDGE: Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Malik Reed, Derrek Tuszka, Jonathon Cooper, Andre Mintze, Natrez Patrick, Pita Taumoepenu

Linebacker: Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Baron Browning, Justin Strnad, Josh Watson, Curtis Robinson

Cornerback: Kyle Fuller, Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, Bryce Callahan, Michael Ojemudia, Duke Dawson, Essang Bassey, Kary Vincent Jr., Nate Hairston, Parnell Motley, Mac McCain III

Safety: Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, Trey Marshall, P.J. Locke, Caden Sterns, Jamar Johnson, Chris Cooper

Special Teams

Kicker: Brandon McManus

Punter: Sam Martin, Max Duffy

Long Snapper: Jacob Bobenmoyer

Denver Broncos Depth Chart Analysis | Offense

Can the Broncos manufacture enough offense to complement its defense?

Quarterbacks

The struggles of Drew Lock dominated parts of the offseason. Should Lock continue erratic quarterback play, we can assume the Broncos will look to shake up the depth chart. On April 22, Broncos general manager George Paton stated in a press conference he wants to add “competition” at quarterback for Lock, but he still believes in exercising patience. 

Inconsistent play and turnovers have been the theme for Lock. While dealing with injuries, he tied for the most interceptions in the league (15) and was last in completion percentage (57.3%). Lock was bottom five in several other statistics. There have been enough bright spots for some to think he warrants another year to show his skills. Luckily for us, we will not have to wait long to get our answer.

The addition of Teddy Bridgewater will apply some pressure to Lock if he struggles in camp and to open the season. It does not seem as though Bridgewater will start to open the season. However, Bridgewater is coming off the best season of his career in terms of passing yards and touchdowns.

Running Backs

Last season, there were concerns about how the Broncos would leverage touches between Melvin Gordon and fan-favorite Phillip Lindsay. Those questions were quickly answered as Gordon was the lead back.

Gordon ran for 986 yards and 9 touchdowns on 215 carries in 2020. He also added 32 receptions on 44 targets for 158 yards and a touchdown. Fumbles were his one issue as he lost 4 in crucial situations. After letting Lindsay walk in free agency, Gordon could be in line for a massive 2021 season.

The Broncos drafted Javonte Williams out of North Carolina. With Lindsay now in Houston, Williams will have an ideal opportunity to fill that secondary role behind Gordon. Additionally, Gordon is in the final year of his deal in 2021, meaning Williams could be lined up to start in 2022.

Royce Freeman steps up into the Lindsay role on the Broncos’ depth chart. The concern is that Freeman has never seen a consistent role and regressed in 2020 while buried on the depth chart. Outside of Week 12, where he played QB (yes, that happened), Freeman failed to top 27 rushing yards in any game.

Former Minnesota Vikings RB Mike Boone signed with the Broncos during free agency. He will be in the mix for the RB3 role. Boone made his opportunities count, rushing for 5.3 yards per carry on 71 attempts over his three seasons.

Wide Receivers

The return of Courtland Sutton in 2021 should give the Broncos an impressive receiver group. In his second year, Sutton had 1,112 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. His catch rate raised eyebrows at 58.1 percent, but just 5 drops on 124 targets suggest that a portion of that at least was QB driven. He should return to the primary receiver role this season.

Sutton will be complemented by Jerry Jeudy, who had 856 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns on 52 receptions. A catch rate of just 46 percent on 113 targets is a concern, especially with 10 drops, but the Broncos had major issues at the quarterback position last season. The Broncos will want to see a big improvement from their 2020 first-round selection.

Currently, Tim Patrick will fill that role of the third receiver. He impressed in 2020, with 742 receiving yards with 6 touchdowns on 51 receptions from 79 targets. K.J. Hamler has the potential to take that role after playing in 13 games as a rookie.

Seth Williams is an intriguing name to watch for the Broncos this season. The former Auburn receiver was once a highly touted prospect who failed to develop into the talent many expected. With good coaching at the NFL level, he could be an intriguing prospect as a reserve outside threat for the Broncos if he can earn playing time.

Tight Ends

Noah Fant is one of the most promising young tight ends in the NFL. An uber-athletic playmaker, Fant led the Broncos in receptions with 62, turning them into 673 yards and 3 touchdowns over his 15 appearances. Fant played through an injury last season but saw his yards per reception fall from 14.1 in 2019 to 10.9 in 2020. 

Albert Okwuegbunam anticipates being ready for the tentative start of camp with “no issues.” As a rookie from Missouri, he played in four games while hauling in 11 of 15 targets for 121 yards and a score before suffering a season-ending ACL tear.

Offensive Tackle

After having his fifth-year option declined by the team, Garett Bolles cashed in last season to the tune of a four-year, $68 million extension. Since joining the team in 2017, Bolles has started in every game he was available. His one missed game came due to an illness last season. He has played on 97.8% of the team’s offensive snaps over his four years, anchoring the offensive line.

Denver’s release of Ja’Wuan James through injury left the Broncos looking for a solution at right tackle. They signed former Chicago Bears tackle Bobby Massie on a one-year deal. They also added Cameron Fleming who should at least provide some competition for Massie.

Additionally, Calvin Anderson plans on returning following an opt-out of the previous season. Massie and Fleming struggle, Anderson could be in line for a significant role. 

Offensive Guard

Dalton Risner started in all 16 games of the 2020 season while playing 93% of the offensive snaps and did not commit a penalty or allow a sack. 

At the time of his signing in 2020, Graham Glasgow became one of the NFL’s top 10 highest-paid guards after signing a four-year, $44 million contract following his release from the Lions. Glasgow played as expected, racking up the snap count but did miss three games, including two after landing on the NFL’s reserve list.

Austin Schlottmann made two starts in relief last year and has started six games over his last two seasons. Netane Muti and rookie Nolan Laufenberg are set to compete for a final spot on the roster.

Center

A third-round selection out of LSU, Lloyd Cushenberry started all 16 games for the Broncos in 2020. The 23-year-old went without a missed offensive snap, committing three penalties and allowed just 4 sacks on the season.

The Broncos selected the exciting Quinn Meinerz in the 2021 NFL Draft. The selection is significant because of Meinerz’s ability to potentially line up all over the offensive line. Unless he has a terrible camp and preseason, Meinerz is a virtual lock to make the roster and offer backup mostly at guard and center, but also a depth option at tackle.

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