Special team kickers are a job in the NFL that most people look at and quickly dismiss. Lest we forget Peyton Manning famously referring to his “idiot kicker.” However, kickers are vital assets to a team with Super Bowl aspirations like the Denver Broncos.

Last season, the Broncos carried two kickers on the roster, along with a punter. This is almost never seen in the NFL and don’t expect to see it under Gary Kubiak as head coach.

Gone are the days of the ultra reliable Matt Prater, but not all is lost for the Broncos.

With Connor Barth’s spot as field-goal kicker almost assured, that leaves one position to field for next season. The candidates: Brandon Colquitt, Brandon McManus and Karl Schmitz. Which one makes the 53-man roster?

30-year-old Colquitt has been with the Broncos since 2009 and has been one of the best punters in the league. Bronco fans know what Colquitt is capable of and is a safe selection. Last season, though, was Colquitt’s worst season with him ranking 25th out of 32 starting punters last season. Additionally, with Colquitt being owed $3 million for this upcoming season, is it time to move in a different direction? Also, Colquitt doesn’t kick off, which will put more pressure on Barth who, while great at field goals, struggles with kickoffs. Is Colquitt worth it?

McManus didn’t have the best start to his career while in Denver last year. Initially brought in to cover for Matt Prater while he served his four game suspension, McManus became the starting kicker in early October when Prater was released by the team. Unfortunately, McManus struggled and a little over a month later he was waived by the Broncos when they decided to sign Barth. However, McManus was quickly re-signed and spent the rest of the season as the Broncos’ kickoff specialist. The 23-year-old McManus can without a doubt pummel his share of touchbacks, but his unreliability kicking field goals is a big concern. Is McManus ready to move from being a surplus to being a necessity?

The long-shot out of the bunch is 28-year-old Karl Schmitz. The Broncos signed Schmitz at a free agent combine and there is still a chance he makes the team. Schmitz, who was born and raised in Bermuda, handled punts and kickoffs for Jacksonville University in 2008 before transferring to University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2011.Before the Broncos signed him, Schmitz had become somewhat of a YouTube sensation posting videos of himself kicking NFL range field goals. He had also previously worked with ProForm Kicking Academy. Can the Broncos afford to take a risk on a guy with no NFL experience?

Coming into the 2015 NFL season, the Broncos know that this is could be their last chance to make a legitimate Super Bowl run with the team as it’s currently constructed.

With Barth being an excellent filed goal kicker despite his kickoff struggles, he will be on the team.  That leaves Colquitt, McManus and Schmitz vying for one place.

So, which of these special teamers will make the 53-man roster?


Sammy Mugharbil, a Mile High Sports intern and MSU-Denver student contributed to this report.