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Published on 09/05/2010 at Sun Sep 05 05:44.
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A look at who's where on the Broncos depth chart. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

A look at who's where on the Broncos depth chart. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

This isn’t speculation, it’s here. The Denver Broncos have updated their depth chart following the final cuts of the day.

On the surface it’s basically the same, but there are some things that need to be noted.

The offense:

  • Why is there no movement at quarterback?
  • Is Lance Ball really the fourth best running back in Denver?
  • Eddie Royal is listed as number two with no one behind him.
  • There are two backups at offensive tackle D’Anthony Batiste and Zane Beadles (starting left guard).
  • New tight end Dan Gronkowski is immediately third on the depth chart.
  • Eric Decker is third on the depth chart at wide receiver behind Jabar Gaffney and Matthew Willis.

While I don’t see the depth at quarterback changing, I can see Brady Quinn being made the third string/emergency quarterback on game day. Bruce Hall must have a heck of a fan in Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville (both came over from Buffalo), Ball clearly outplayed Hall in the preseason. The Broncos are either masking Decker by not putting him directly behind Royal or there’s something we’re not aware of. Depending on how hurt Ryan Harris is, Batiste could start week one and  is the only backup for the recently returned Ryan Clady besides Beadles who is scheduled to start at left guard. Willis being listed in front of Decker at outside receiver makes sense, Decker not being listed behind Royal doesn’t.

Defense and grades after the click.On to the defense:

  • Ryan McBean is listed as the starting left defensive end.
  • Marcus Thomas is listed as McBean’s backup and as third nose tackle.
  • Jarvis Moss & Robert Ayers are the starting outside linebackers.
  • Baraka Atkins & Jason Hunter are the only players listed behind them. 97 tackles and nine sacks in seven seasons between the two.
  • There are ten players in the Broncos secondary, three rookies, two second season players and four players over thirty.

McBean looked good last season and throughout the preseason and the Broncos must think even higher of him than I do as the other immediate option at defensive end is LeKevin Smith and Marcus Thomas. The Moss/Ayers one-two punch better be even more spectacular than we have seen in the preseason or the Broncos could have a whole lot of trouble heading their way. Atkins & Hunter (Moss & Ayers backups) provide veteran depth, but that’s about it, the two have 97 tackles and 9 sacks between them in seven season as NFL players. Hunter is a special teams juggernaut and started nine games last season as a defensive end in Seattle.

QuarterbacksKyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow

Analysis: There has been much speculation as to why the Broncos started off 6-0 last season, though Orton doesn’t deserve all the credit, he does deserve some of it. The man threw one interception (to Randy Moss none-the-less) in those first six games. He ran a good offense that only sputtered once it hit that brutal Baltimore Ravens defense. Quinn is an upgrade over Chris Simms, but should we see Quinn in any action outside of fourth quarter relief the Broncos may be in for it. Tebow showed nothing short of what anyone expected of him during the preseason, he had his moments of brilliance and his moments of ‘Whoops!’. What Tebow does allow is diversity and extra options, the man has a nose for the end zone and can be unstoppable with the ball in his hands in the open field. GRADE: B

Running BacksKnowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, Bruce Hall and Lance Ball

Analysis: Moreno did suit for the final preseason game, but he did not play. McDaniels felt as if he just wasn’t ready. I would expect McDaniels to do the same against the Jacksonville Jaguars if his feeling is similar. Talk from anyone who saw Moreno play during training camp was all about an improved running back that got off to a slow start last season due to several factors. If Moreno is able to actually stay healthy he should be brilliant. Buckhalter did great last season in his role and from what I’ve seen in the off season looks to be just the same, another injury concern however. With Moreno and Buckhalter the Broncos are as good as any team in the NFL at running back. After that it gets sticky, I think Ball is the clear number three back, yet Hall remains in at third. The Broncos require their backs to catch often and all are capable of turning those catches into extra yards. Ball shoots out of the backfield with power though and punishes would-be tacklers, where as Hall is more of a reliever. GRADE: B+

Wide ReceiverBrandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney, Demaryius Thomas, Matthew Willis and Eric Decker

Analysis: Lloyd forced a lot of fans to remember that he was on the team last year in the final two games of the season (after being inactive for much of 2009) and has maintained that significance throughout the preseason. Finally getting his chance to shine as the Broncos number one receiver. He is also a personal favorite of Orton’s. Royal is the biggest question mark (and I believe the Broncos reason for drafting Decker) in my opinion, he will see more opportunities this season presumably and is still the same talent he was as a rookie with two seasons under his belt. With more opportunity he should see more catches and more success. Gaffney went from my preseason Brandon Marshall replacement to my seasonal Marshall replacement, he’s completely capable of being everything Marshall was and more (with less headache). I don’t know that he’ll replicate his success that he had in the final game against Kansas City, but he will make Denver forget Marshall. Thomas, who was actually brought in to replace Marshall did not play a down in preseason and may not be available for week one could go either way on the disappointment factor, but there is very solid depth behind him. Willis is a deep and underneath threat and Decker has proved to be an underneath threat and a catch machine. GRADE: A

Tight EndDaniel Graham, Richard Quinn and Dan Gronkowski

Analysis: Early in training camp fans became aware of the want in Denver for a throwback, an H-Back type player who could function similarly to the way Shannon Sharpe had in his time with the Broncos. This was Marquez Branson who may possibly clear waivers and the Broncos will undoubtedly put him on the practice squad. The teams willingness to allow Branson to walk shows and the trade for Gronkowski shows that Denver is much more concerned with having their tight ends block than catch. Graham is hot and cold as a receiver, but remains one of the best blocking tight ends in football. Quinn can block that’s for sure, but has yet to show in a game that means anything that he can actually catch. Gronkowski had a decent preseason with the Detroit Lions, but will need time to adjust to the Broncos offense. He’s another number three of three in tight ends on the Broncos who are capable of blocking well. My opinion is he’s not much of a factor as a pass receiver until the ball gets near the goal line. That’s not a bad thing though. GRADE: C- (for receiving ability)

TacklesRyan Clady, Ryan Harris and D’Anthony Batiste

Analysis: Clady and Harris are the best tackle tandem in the NFL arguably. Batiste has been in the NFL since 2006 and played last season on the Broncos practice squad. So he’s got a year in the system as well, he’s a player with a heart of gold and if you get a chance to ever research him do just that. That being said, with Clady just coming off an injury and Harris going down in the final preseason game the Broncos are one twisted ankle away from seeing the Ryans replaced by Batiste and Zane Beadles. GRADE: A-

GuardsChris Kuper, Zane Beadles, Eric Olsen and Stanley Davis

Analysis: Kuper got paid this season, which is normally not a good thing for most NFL players, but thankfully Kuper isn’t most NFL players. Beadles the rookie has already got a very significant amount of time under his belt and has faced some of the better nose tackles and defensive tackles in the game (between practice and preseason). Olsen is very much a rookie and anyone who saw the Minnesota game can attest to that, I’ve been nothing but impressed with Davis though throughout his time in Denver. GRADE: B+

CenterJ.D. Walton and Russ Hochstein

Analysis: Walton is making his best case to be the shining star of the 2010 Broncos draft and it’s very close between him and Beadles. The rookies have stepped up in a major way and made fans forget about names like Pouncey and some other ones I’m not going to get into here. Walton, like Beadles will only benefit from being handcuffed to Kuper and can learn the offense from Hochstein who has many years in the system. Hochstein is a guy capable of filling in any position on the Broncos roster and this has earned him the respect of his coaches as well as allows him to teach all of the youngsters playing around the offensive line. GRADE: A

OVERALL OFFENSE– Fans (and NFL defenses) have yet to see the best team the Broncos offense can put forward and that’s a good thing. Moreno, Thomas, Clady, Harris and Orton have all yet to be on the field at the same time. That’s a scary thought, because despite not having hardly any of them in the preseason Orton was able to orchestrate scoring drives on more than 80% of his drives. All without Moreno, Buckhalter (with the exception of one drive), Clady and Thomas. With the Broncos offense at full force, as ridiculous as this sounds, they should be able to hold their own against those incredible defenses they face in before the bye week. GRADE: B+

Defense coming later today, keep it tuned. In the mean time, feel free to call me an idiot in the comments.

  • Jake White


  • Vince_Marine

    Great read Ian! In regards to the WR's, who do you think will be the inactive on game days? I sure hope it's not Willis. I think he is going to be the surprise of the season.

  • Jake White

    (Please disregard my last post, it was a fat finger). But this post isn't.

    How about we look at your ratings objectively:

    Quarterbacks: Assuming that Orton can get a semblance of protection, which is a big 'if', he alone will give this unit an 'A'. Hopefully he can hit a few of those long balls and if he can, this offense is dangerous. Tebow is going to make a great starter in the future. Quinn is a bust and maybe Denver can get something for him just like they got something for Alphonso Smith.

    Running back: Hall and Ball have been mediocre this preseason. LenDale White was really the only spark that Denver had and looked like the answer in short yardage situations. He got hurt…what a surprise. C Buck is good when he's not hurt, which is about half the time. Moreno is ok, but didn't show a lot of ability to break tackles. He's more of an ankle breaker and Denver needs power backs because of the O Line's inability to get any push. Grade: C+

    Wide receiver: Practically everyone on this unit was solid in the preseason. Willis and Deckers need to see the field this season as they are gamers. Grade: A

    Tight end: Cut Branson but keep Richard Quinn, huh? Graham is a great blocker but catches like 15 balls a year. Grade: D

    Tackles: When healthy, Clady and Harris give this group a solid A. Add in Batiste and he automatically drops this group to a B just by his mere presence. Subtract this figure by injuries and you have a grade of a C as Batiste and anyone that is added into this group will see the field this season…often.

    Guards: Kuper is coming off an injury (big surprise) and Beadles is a rookie. The backups in this group are so bad that they're not worth mentioning. Grade: C

    Center: Walton has held his own in the preseason. Let's see what he can do in the regular season. Grade: B

    Overall offense: If there weren't so many injuries and rookies on the offensive line, this offense would operate the way it was designed to – like that of the Pats a few years ago. With the offensive line in it's present condition, the running game should average under 4 yards a carry and Orton will be under pressure – a lot. Grade: B-

  • anthony33

    Excellent article Ian. Agree with most everything you said. Good point about Decker being here to basically replace Royal. I really like Eddie, but he is an awfully small target. Not exactly sure what McD is looking for out of the slot receiver, but you get the feeling he was never high on Stokely or Royal.

    I would argue your grade on the running backs. Buckhalter is injury prone and we still don't know what we have in Moreno. I hope you are right, but I would give this group a (?) for a grade which leads me to my next point.

    The offensive line, for the reasons you pointed out, are a C- at best IMO. Clady is coming off knee surgery and Harris is injured again. The middle is too young. I do think this is an area that will improve as the year goes on and I like what I saw in both Walton and Beadles. Right now however, they are not very good. Running game was patheic in the preseason.

    Looking forward to you take on the defense!!! Glad BT is up and humming.

  • Scottey

    “Finally getting his chance to shit as the Broncos number one receiver.” I was almost wetting myself reading this…….was this some sort of code that we were supposed to read into this? I know mistakes happen, but man that was sure a funny one!

  • PanaMex

    I just learn Ryan Torain was cut from Washington. Since Broncos have so many problems at RB we should seriously consider signing him.

  • TheTroglodyte

    Great read but lmao talking about Lloyd you said “Finally getting his chance to SHIT as the Broncos number one receiver.”

  • Ian Henson

    Well, last season it was Brandon Lloyd (whom we all saw proved to be very good when finally given the chance). This year, injuries may dictate inactives (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker). However, McDaniels would probably say the game plan dictating it. Eddie Royal, Patrick Willis and Decker are all good underneath. Willis and Decker are both great blockers, etc.

    Really tough decision, but a good bind to be in with such talent to choose from. Similar to the situation they have at corner. If I had to pick one to be inactive most often this season it would be Decker (only because of the amount of third team reps he received in preseason).

  • Ian Henson

    Jake to look at my grades on this fan blog as anything but objective is an insult. I'm kidding, we'll agree to disagree, being that your lowest grade on the team is the tight ends and running backs. We haven't gotten to see the new Knowshon yet. The tight ends we have to put into perspective, if Branson is gone, to me that means the team isn't too worried about having tight ends that are capable of running after the catch with the ball. Your guard grade is low, if you get a chance rewatch the first quarter of the Minnesota game and watch Stanley Daniels.

  • Ian Henson

    Scottey, haha!! Not intentional at all, it should have said shine. It does say shine, while I do curse it won't ever be intentionally on this blog. I'm sorry to anyone who may have been offended.

  • Ian Henson

    PanaMex- He was good in preseason too! Do you think Torain is someone the Broncos should pick up? Who would you get rid of on the roster?

  • Evileye0702

    I won't go so far as to call you an idiot, but I think the grades for just about every unit are a bit too high. We might not have seen Moreno in the preseason but the rest of the group didn't exactly install confidence. (B-). Any team that has such little experience at the center position is going to struggle. They might be worthy of an A at some point but I have a hard time giving these centers anything more than a B. The TEs are horrible and I think Graham is now past his prime. I cannot give them anything close to an average grade. A D is more appropriate. Orton and the WR corp are the only thing keep this offense from being abissmal. If they don't find a way to move the ball on the ground with or without Moreno, defenses will adjust an Orton's abilities will be taken away. For that reason I give offense a solid C.

  • Jason

    Your assessment of Kyle, Tim the WRs and center are spot on IMO; however, I think your assessment of Quinn and TE's is a tad off.

    Quinn is a product of his environment: Cleveland. He just needs time to realize that every mistake isn't going to cost him his job where Romeo (oh where art thou [i]now[/i] Romeo?) had no idea how to support an offense. Quinn's flashes of brilliance, (two years ago, against Denver – game winning drive stalled on 4th down ONLY because his TE couldn't handle the ball.) is attractive. The poor boy just needs to learn to trust again. Just watching the relationship between Kyle and Josh should help a ton.

    The TE's are not graded on pass catching ability in this system. This is not an accident, slip up or neglect; it IS by design – perhaps a product of our push-less OL on short yardage plays. The days of the Shannon Sharp(esque) type TE are gone in Denver. I know its hard(it is for me), but let it go. Pass catching grades no longer apply. If they did the roster would look a bit different.

    Grading rookies; an exercise in futility. Catch me again in 16 games, 48 would be better.

  • areferee

    Yeah…I was offended…except for the fact that he IS the sh*t! :-)
    Nice article I-Man.

  • kd

    if u took a time machine to 2 years ago and showed me this depth chart i would rip ur depth chart to shreds and break ur time machine

  • Blessedresistor

    Very rarely do I read an analysis that I agree with so completely, great job Ian! I think with the combination of injuries and a brutal schedule to start off the season, we may get off to a slow start. But as people get healthier and the schedule lets up, we have a real shot at sneaking into the play-offs.

  • LevonZevon

    You corrected yourself on Stanley Daniels (not being Stanley Davis.. as first written). Pretty sly of you to circumvent my pot-shot/correction before anyone bothered pointing out your likely-accidental error.

    Anyway. Nobody knows what we got on offense at the key controversial and injury-marred positions. Like your critics I sense a little homer-bias. But that could just be optimism. I also think Daniels should be starting over Beadles at Left Guard (and McD may be listing Zane first to keep Jax off-base). But that's no criticism of you, Ian.

  • Ajrome06

    not happy AT ALL about them giving up marquez branson, but everywhere else looks solid, as long as they stay healthy, as there is no depth anywhere on this roster except for cornerback.

  • Ian Henson

    and wide receiver… Yeah, Branson's a story we may never know…

  • LevonZevon

    You corrected yourself on Stanley Daniels (not being Stanley Davis.. as first written). Pretty sly of you to circumvent my pot-shot/correction before anyone bothered pointing out your likely-accidental error.

    Anyway. Nobody knows what we got on offense at the key controversial and injury-marred positions. Like your critics I sense a little homer-bias. But that could just be optimism. I also think Daniels should be starting over Beadles at Left Guard (and McD may be listing Zane first to keep Jax off-base). But that's no criticism of you, Ian.

  • Ajrome06

    not happy AT ALL about them giving up marquez branson, but everywhere else looks solid, as long as they stay healthy, as there is no depth anywhere on this roster except for cornerback.

  • Ian Henson

    and wide receiver… Yeah, Branson's a story we may never know…