Posted Tue Sep 6th by Monty
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Starter: Kyle Orton
Backups: Brady Quinn, Tim Tebow
Analysis: Kyle Orton is the experienced veteran and rightfully won the starting job in training camp. But the other story (and, if you ask the media, predominant story) of training camp has been Tim Tebow’s rise and fall up and down the Broncos’ depth chart. Once slated to start, he was rumored to be the 4th best quarterback before finally settling somewhere along what we’ll call Depth Chart Position 2.5. I truly expect Tebow is the 2nd string quarterback if for no other reason than the fact that an Orton injury gives the Broncos an opportunity to evaluate Tebow.
Starter: Knowshon Moreno
Backups: Willis McGahee, Lance Ball
Analysis: The real question heading into 2011 is if Knowshon Moreno can stay healthy. While Willis McGahee is a solid #1b, and sure-fire goal line ball carrier, the Broncos need Moreno to live up to his first round draft status. A healthier, somewhat rebuilt offensive line, along with a stronger commitment to the run under head coach John Fox, will help improve the Broncos’ running totals from a year ago, but the Broncos are far removed from their running ways. Can Moreno improve his vision and upfield attack and limit his steps behind the line of scrimmage? More importantly, can Moreno carry the Broncos when his team when his teammates can’t carry him? As a John Fox back, at times, he’s expected to.
Starter: Spencer Larsen
Analysis: Spencer Larsen was over-utilized under Mike Shanahan. He was under-utilized under Josh McDaniels. At times starting at both linebacker and fullback in 2008 under Shanahan, Larsen proved to be a versatile weapon for the Broncos but ultimately settled into his offensive role. But McDaniels didn’t value the fullback, and Larsen’s impact was severely lessened. John Fox is hoping he’s found a happy medium for Larsen – one where he can both focus on and flourish in the role of fullback.
Starters: Ryan Clady (left), Orlando Franklin (right)
Backups: Chris Clark,
Herb Taylor, Tony Hills
Analysis: The Broncos need this to be a significant area of improvement from 2010. The talented but oft-injured Ryan Harris was allowed to leave as the team brought in Orlando Franklin via the draft (the move would prove proactive so far as Harris was released with an injury settlement by the Philadelphia Eagles). Franklin is a road-grading run-blocking machine, but questions remain regarding his ability to block the league’s better pass rushers. Meanwhile, a 100% healthy Ryan Clady needs to return to 2008-2009 form at left tackle. 2010 was a dreadful year for the former All Pro. The backup situation isn’t pretty; let’s hope Clady and Franklin stay healthy.
Starters: Zane Beadles (left), Chris Kuper (right)
Backups: Russ Hochstein
Analysis: At one time early in his career, Chris Kuper looked like he would be a perennial stud. And maybe, with a little consistency in 2011, he can return to that potential. But the interior of the Broncos’ offensive line was far from a strength in 2010. He and Zane Beadles are playing for their 2012 jobs. The fact that Russ Hochstein remains on the roster tells me the Broncos didn’t do a good enough job addressing OL depth in the offseason.
Starters: J.D. Walton
Backups: Manny Ramirez
Analysis: This is a position of particular weakness for the Broncos. J.D. Walton, along with the entire offensive line, struggled in 2010. Injuries and indecision by Coach McDaniels led to inconsistencies in the starting lineup from week-to-week — never a good formula when dealing with rookies like Walton and Beadles. As a result the Broncos went from the 6th-ranked offensive line in 2009 to the 30th in 2010 according to Football Outsiders. … Walton will likely fend off Manny Ramirez this season, but it’s worth noting that Ramirez put together his best preseason game in Week Four.
Starter: Daniel Fells
Backups: Julius Thomas, Virgil Green
Analysis: Talk about overhaul. None of the players filling in the tight end portion of the Denver Broncos depth chart were with the team last year (meaning everyone in 2010 is gone). An added importance has been placed on the position under John Fox, so expect “backup” Julius Thomas to get a handful of starts if and when the Broncos open in two tight end sets this season. Daniel Fells is the prized free agent, the most polished of the three, and the only tight end with any NFL experience at all. Thomas is a project in the mold of Antonio Gates, and while it’s silly to suggest he could have that type of impact long-term, he’s ahead of schedule as a potential starter in Week One. Green is a project, a blocking tight end and special teamer.
Starters: Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal
Backups: Eric Decker, Matthew Willis, Demaryius Thomas
Analysis: Brandon Lloyd enters his contract year aiming to prove that his 2010 breakout season was no fluke. Publicly happy that Kyle Orton will be continuing to be the man throwing him footballs, Lloyd’s production will undoubtedly drop from a year ago due to the scheme change, but expect him to still be the Broncos’ clear #1 receiver, and another candidate for the Pro Bowl. … Eddie Royal and company will fill the void felt by Thomas’ absence until he is fully ready.
Now on to the defense…