The Denver Broncos come into this offseason with a ton of hype, and deservedly so. Denver has a second-year quarterback who showed a ton of promise last year in limited action, going 4-1 in his five starts. The Broncos front office double-downed on their franchise quarterback by giving him a ton of new weapons and a new offensive lineman added to an already stellar defense, which also got upgraded. Denver comes in 13th in overall and 6th in the AFC Power Rankings.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 81.719 (13th)
- Offense – 80.68 (17th)
- Defense – 83.66 (6th)
- Coach and Culture – 82.25 (T-11th)
- Home Field Advantage – 84.5, T-9th (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 78, 18th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Many thought that Drew Lock was going to be a first-round pick last year. In fact, I had Lock going to the Broncos in the first round of my final mock draft. He went 4-1 in the first five starts of his career at the back-end of last season and completed over 64 percent of his passes for 1020 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions. With another year set to start and a new, proven offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur, Lock is set to fully break out this year.
The Broncos brought in Jeff Driskel to be the backup for Lock. Driskel, who was a sixth-round pick in 2016, has started eight games the last two seasons for Cincinnati and Detroit. As a starter, he has gone 1-7, which isn’t surprising given the teams he has played for, completed almost 60 percent of his passes and tossed ten touchdowns compared to six interceptions. He also was a dual-threat as he could shred defenses with his legs, where he had two games with over 50 yards rushing last year with Detroit. Brett Rypien lines up in the third slot and is a solid developmental project.
Running Backs – 84.5, 12th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Even with Phillip Lindsay rushing for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, the Broncos went into free agency and snagged Melvin Gordon. Gordon was outperformed last year by Austin Ekeler and will now be in a three-man backfield rotation in Denver. He had the worst season since his rookie year and held out with a contract dispute and didn’t prove that he was worth the money he was looking for. If I had to guess, Lindsay would be more of the early-down back with Gordon factoring in on third-downs as a pass-catcher. Royce Freeman will likely be relegated to goal-line and short-yardage work this year. Freeman had similar stats compared to his rookie year and could potentially be traded for a late-round pick.
The 49ers proved last year that you don’t need a three-down back to succeed as San Francisco had three backs that were contributors to their super bowl run. Denver is in that mold this year as a dark horse team to make a deep playoff run and made plenty of moves this offseason to show they are all-in.
Pass Catchers – 84.5, 10th (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
Last year saw the breakout of Courtland Sutton happen. Sutton had 1,112 yards on 72 catches and six touchdowns. In Sutton’s first game with Lock starting, he exploded for 74 yards and two touchdowns. After that though, Sutton’s stats fell off. Teams took away Sutton as he was the number one and seemingly the only option for Lock to throw to.
The Broncos were big on giving Lock some help during the offseason and it was evident in the draft. The selection of Jerry Jeudy in the first round, my number one receiver in the draft, was a great start. Jeudy has great route running and superb hands and could very well be one of the brightest young receivers in the league this year, and could have an A.J. Brown-esque season. Along with Jeudy, Denver also selected KJ Hamler in the second round. The trio’s skillsets all match well together as Sutton is the physical specimen, Jeudy is the smooth route runner, and Hamler is the speedy deep threat.
DaeSean Hamilton takes a massive hit with Denver’s new additions. Hamilton caught 28 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown last year. Tim Patrick and Diontae Spencer caught 22 passes combined and offer some solid depth pieces. The Broncos hope they found a diamond in the rough in Tyrie Cleveland who they selected in the seventh round. Cleveland couldn’t find the field much at Florida with a stacked receiver room and ran into some trouble at Florida but he has a ton of potential.
The Broncos have a very deep group of tight ends. While Noah Fant was inconsistent, he showed a ton of flashes posting 40 catches for 562 yards and three touchdowns. The trio of Nick Vannett, Troy Fumagalli, and Jake Butt have potential but haven’t gotten much playing time. Jeff Heuerman is the veteran of the group and specializes in blocking. Lock gets his former teammate in Albert Okwuegbunam back in Denver to help him out as well.
Offensive Line – 81.5, 12th (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
Denver improved their interior of the offensive line by stealing Graham Glasgow in free agency. Dalton Risner had an impressive rookie season and should be in for another solid season. Ja’Wuan James is back from injury and should anchor the right side with Glasgow. Garrett Bolles now finds himself as the weak link of the group and needs to prove to every team that he deserves another contract. Lloyd Cushenberry will start at center after being selected in the third round this year from LSU.
Elijah Wilkinson returns this year after starting for James last year. Netane Muti was one of my darkhorse linemen this year and should factor into the depth rotation as a developmental piece.
Run Defense – 82.5, 14th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
The Broncos got a steal when they got Jurrell Casey from the Titans for a seventh-round pick. McTelvin Agim was added early in the draft and should learn a ton from Casey early in his career. Dre’Mont Jones offers some reliable depth behind Shelby Harris. Mike Purcell is solid as the nose tackle until Agim takes over.
Denver found a diamond with Alexander Johnson who was one of the best linebackers in the league last year. Him alongside Todd Davis and Josey Jewell in the rotation is a great linebacking core.
Pass Rush – 84.5, T-5th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Due to Bradley Chubb‘s injury last year, Denver only finished with 40 sacks. Chubb had one in the four games he played while Von Miller had eight. DeMarcus Walker figures to be a part of the rotation following a four-sack season, especially with Derek Wolfe out of the building. Shelby Harris had six, and Jones had 3.5 from the interior.
Linebackers – 81.5, T-14th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
Davis is the run stuffer of the group while Johnson is great in pass coverage. Jewell is a solid third piece in the rotation but has taken a backseat due to Johnson. Justin Strnad was an excellent selection late in the draft out of Wake Forest.
Secondary – 84, 6th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson are a top safety tandem in the league. Simmons is one of the most underappreciated players in the league, while Jackson has unfortunately been tested as positive for Covid-19. If Jackson gets healthy, the Broncos wouldn’t have to rely on Trey Marshall as a starter.
Denver has two great starters at cornerback with Bryce Callahan and A.J. Bouye. Bouye was acquired for next to nothing from Jacksonville. Michael Ojemudia was a bit of an early selection out of Iowa and De’Vante Bausby and Duke Dawson offer some solid depth behind Bouye and Callahan.
Coach and Culture – 82.25, T-11th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
The Broncos have added a ton of pieces around Lock. With Lock in his second year and with a better offensive-minded coach in Shurmur, Denver is filled with potential this year with a ton of reliable weapons for Lock and a much improved offensive line. Denver comes in ranked 21st in offensive coach and culture with the offense not able to get as much time together to work in the new offense.
With Fangio, the defense is going to be one of the best in the league. The Broncos have a ton of depth at all three levels of the defense and a ton of veteran leadership to go along with Fangio’s coaching. Denver comes in tied for fifth in defensive coach and culture.
The Broncos have a ton of moving pieces and a ton of potential on offense. With Lock looking to come into his own this year, he is a darkhorse candidate for MVP considering the last two players to win that award have burst onto the scene. The defense is stellar and Jon Elway finally seems to have found his new quarterback to take him back to the promised land.
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