Questions facing the Denver Broncos following the 2017 NFL Draft

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The 2017 NFL Draft is over, and the Broncos have added a few new players to their roster. Yet, we still have a few concerns going forward. Rookie orientation will take place next week, with OTAs beginning at the end of the month, and mandatory minicamp to follow in June.

Yet, when we look at a few of the draft moves and free agent signings, we do have a few questions about the upcoming season. The Broncos will be trying to get back into the postseason, while playing the most challenging schedule, and while playing in the most challenging division in the NFL. It’s no wonder we might be a little worried. Here are a few questions that are on our minds. It might take some time to get any realistic answers.

Did the Broncos finally get a third wide receiver?

The quick response might be “of course”, but pardon us for being a little skeptical. While we have seen the productive seasons from third wideouts like Wes Welker and Eddie Royal, we also remember the less effective years that we received from Charlie Adams, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Darius Watts and Jordan Norwood.

Over the past two seasons, the Broncos offense has gotten big numbers from their first two wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. That duo is combining for 2,000 yards per year. After that, there is a huge dropoff. Jordan Norwood has been the third-leading receiver the past two years, with just over 20 catches.

Carlos Henderson is an explosive wideout that the Broncos selected in the third round of the draft, and they are hoping he will push for the spot. Another weapon would change the look of the Broncos offense. Can Henderson be that guy?

Will C.J. Anderson or Jamaal Charles actually stay healthy?

It will be a challenge, as running backs are getting hit on every single play, but that may not matter. In the past four seasons, C.J. Anderson has played just 42 games, and Jamaal Charles has played only 38. If they were to both be healthy, they could be a very dangerous tandem.

Luckily, John Elway has compiled a few players that could step in and produce. Devontae Booker will be back for his sophomore season, and he should be better than he was in his rookie stint. Booker rushed for over 600 yards in 2016, but struggled with consistency, and some missed assignments.

Back in January, the Broncos signed veteran running back Bernard Pierce, who has spent the past four seasons in Baltimore and Jacksonville. Rookie De’Angelo Henderson will also be looking to get some playing time, and his skills might translate nicely to the NFL game.

Let’s hope Anderson and Charles can be a potent one-two punch, and if not, someone will need to step up.

Will Garett Bolles be the opening day starting left tackle?

Garett Bolles is widely believed to be the most athletic offensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-5, and nearly 300 pounds, Bolles ran a 4.95 40-yard dash, and scouts were impressed at his ability to stay in front of opposing pass rushers. He has shown the capability of getting to the second level while run blocking, and he has a nasty disposition that is common among very good offensive linemen.

Yet, we will all have to remember that Bolles has played at a high level for just a single season. A junior college All-American, he played just 13 games at the University of Utah. He will need to gain some weight and strength, and that may take some time. Bolles isn’t a bust if he isn’t the opening day starter. His future should still be bright.

Can Brandon Marshall bounce back from 2016?

The Broncos allowed inside linebacker Danny Trevathan to leave via free agency after their Super Bowl 50 victory, in part, because they believed Marshall could handle the workload. Marshall turned in his least productive season since 2013, as he battled nagging injuries.

After averaging 107 tackles per season in 2014 and 2015, he managed just 52 last year. As a result, the Broncos run defense took a sizeable step backward, and Marshall needs a big return this fall. The fact that John Elway didn’t see a reason to draft an inside linebacker, despite the fact there were a few available, tells us he thinks Marshall is still the man for the job. A return to form from Marshall, would be a major upgrade for the Broncos defense.

Okay, seriously, who is going to be the starting quarterback?

This is the biggest question of them all, and we may not know anything until early September. Head coach Vance Joseph says this battle is 50/50 right now, and it will be highly divisive among the Broncos faithful.

Can Trevor Siemian maintain his poise, but also find a way to make enough big plays when needed? Or will the big-armed Paxton Lynch clean up his mechanics enough to earn the starting spot?

Last season, Siemian showed flashes of being the guy, throwing for 18 touchdowns. Yet the offense sputtered all season, and many would like to see what Lynch can do with a full season under his belt.

This could be one of the most competitive quarterback battles in recent Denver history, and we will have a front row seat for it. May the best man win.

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