The Denver Broncos rookies received their first welcome to the world of the National Football League on Saturday for the start of Rookie Minicamp.

Denver’s rookie draft class of Riley Moss, Marvin Mims, Drew Sanders, JL Skinner, and Alex Forsyth all got their firsthand experience of what’s to come transitioning from the college game to the NFL.

Joining them were 15 college free agents that were officially signed on Friday.

Broncos 15 college free agent signings:

  • Nate Adkins, TE, South Carolina
  • Seth Benson, ILB, Iowa
  • Henry Byrd, OG, Princeton
  • Dallas Daniels, WR, Jackson State
  • Darrious Gaines, CB, Western Colorado
  • Art Green, CB, Houston
  • Taylor Grimes, WR, Incarnate Word
  • Marcus Haynes, OLB, Old Dominion
  • Thomas Incoom, OLB, Central Michigan
  • Demontrey Jacobs, OT, South Florida
  • Kris Leach, TE, Kent State
  • Jaleel McLaughlin, RB, Youngstown State
  • PJ Mustipher, DT, Penn State
  • Alex Palczewski, OT, Illinois
  • Emanuel Wilson, RB, Fort Valley State

Tryout players:

Pro Tryouts –

  • Ben DiNucci, QB, two years of NFL experience
  • Trent Harris, OLB, four years of NFL experience
  • Tommy Hudson, TE, two years of NFL experience
  • Forrest Merrill, DT, three years of NFL experience
  • Jacques Patrick, RB/FB, two years of NFL experience

Rookie Tryouts –

  • Slone Asi, DT, Oklahoma State
  • Stephan Blaylock, S, UCLA
  • Marquel Broughton, S, Army
  • Bo Calvert, OLB, UCLA
  • Carlos Carriere, WR, Central Michigan
  • Nick Ciccio, S, Northern Colorado
  • Isaac Cochran, OG, Air Force
  • Gray Davis, C/G, Colorado State
  • Alfred Edwards, OT, Utah State
  • Warren Ericson, C/G, Georgia
  • Momar Fall, DE, CSU-Pueblo
  • Josh Johnston, WR, Colorado Mines
  • Jack Landherr IV, LS, UCLA
  • Christian Mejia, DT, Washington State
  • Issac Power, P, Baylor
  • Hunter Raquet, QB, CSU-Pueblo
  • Dagan Rienks, TE, Colorado Mesa
  • Jared Sackett, K, UTSA
  • Mohamed Sanogo, ILB, Louisville
  • Chris Whittaker, OLB, Incarnate Word
  • Nick Williams, WR, UNLV
  • Jordan Wright, OLB, Kentucky

Which of the Denver Broncos rookies from the draft stood out?

Local media received access to Saturday’s practice in Dove Valley and everybody had their eyes on Denver’s five draft picks.

One player who stood out like a sore thumb was third-round linebacker Drew Sanders. Sanders’ 6’5 size and rangy athleticism were on display from the start of practice until the end — both on defense and special teams.

During one of the team periods, Sanders read tryout quarterback Ben DiNucci’s eyes on a pass play and jumped the route for a pick-six. The rookie linebacker’s ability to diagnose plays was evident during Saturday’s rookie minicamp, whether that was reading run or pass and then taking the appropriate angles to put himself in position against the run or dropping back in coverage against the pass.

Not only does Sanders have the athleticism to make impact plays, but his football intellect allows him to read and react in a timely manner. It’s safe to say that he was the best overall player on the field from an eye-test perspective.

Rookie cornerback Riley Moss also stood out at cornerback and during Denver’s special teams period — he has all of the athletic traits and decent size to play corner in the NFL and be an impact player on the special teams side of the ball.

Moss showcased comfortability in coverage, adjusting to the splits of opposing wide receivers, and communicating on the field to help his teammates regarding formation.

Second-rounder Marvin Mims Jr. was another name that everybody kept their eyes on during the practice period on Saturday. His route running is crisp and his element of speed was something that forced Broncos defenders to pay extra attention to him.

He’ll be a fun player to watch once training camp rolls around in July.

While practice was uptempo, it’s worth noting that no physical contact was permitted which makes it difficult to truly evaluate what’s going on in the trenches.

Which undrafted rookies stood out?
Former Iowa Hawkeyes inside linebacker Seth Benson, Houston cornerback Art Green, and South Carolina tight end Nate Adkins were three Denver Broncos UDFAs who caught this author’s attention on Saturday.

Benson made several eye-popping plays during Denver’s special teams periods, dislodging and recovering a fumble during a return period. Defensively, he also rotated in and showcased a high motor — pursuit and good angles against the run and even assisted with underneath coverage on a play where his presence resulted in an incomplete pass by the offense.

At cornerback, Green’s 6’2 size and bulk were things that stood out from the onset. While working in on defense, he demonstrated good technique, where to adjust his splits against different formations, and getting in phase with the receiver against various routes.

Once the pads come on in training camp and there are tackling situations, he’ll also be a player to watch come training camp.

Lastly, Adkins, the tight end out of South Carolina showcased a high motor as a blocker in the run game for the Broncos on Saturday. Throughout various levels of facing linebackers, nickel defenders, and/or safeties, he took sharp angles to gain leverage against his assignments which helped spring several runs free.

Once again, contact was very minimal, and with no pads, it’s hard to generate a true evaluation of how some of the more physically demanding positions will carry over into training camp.

Tryout players who stood out for the Denver Broncos

Tryout wide receiver Carlos Carriere was one of the tryout players who participated in Saturday’s practice that stood out. Undrafted out of Central Michigan, Carriere’s 6’5 frame and athletic makeup stood out.

When Broncos quarterbacks looked his way on Saturday, he hauled in whatever they threw to him. After making several catches, his speed and yard-after-the-catch ability was another element of his game that stood out.

Head coach Sean Payton noted that he and his coaching staff would go through each rep of practice as they evaluate which players they’ll look to bring onto their 90-man roster for mandatory minicamp and training camp this offseason.

“I think it’s probably a little bit of both,” Payton said regarding the difficulty of keeping a tryout player if they jump out right away. “Some guys jump out right away. I can recall sitting in meetings where it was close to whether we were going to—if someone comes in, someone goes out. It’s not just bring them along. You’re trying to bring in the right group at 90 [players] when you get down to it. So that’s the biggest goal here, though. Really trying to make sure we don’t read about one of these guys that was here today somewhere else. So that weighs on you. Sometimes, someone jumps out really clear and then other times, maybe it’s the second day when we look at this film. Maybe nothing happens and then a week from now, something happens. They all are making impressions and that’s important.”

The next time local media gets access to practice will be the week of May 23rd-25th as the Denver Broncos report for an expansive minicamp that will include veteran players in the mix.