Now with two preseason games in the book, the Denver Broncos’ roster picture is becoming a lot less murky.
It’s now possible to determine what players are merely camp bodies with no chance of making the roster, a la Brett Rypien or Joe Dineen, and what players were thought to be on the bubble but now seem probable to make the final roster like Malik Reed or Juwann Winfree.
To gain even more clarity on how the Broncos’ depth chart currently stands, let’s take an updated look at the position battles and how the players entrenched in them performed in the Emerald City.
2nd-3rd string Quarterback: Kevin Hogan (9) vs. Drew Lock (3)
Moving Up: Drew Lock looked much improved from the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night Seattle. He made highlight plays with his legs and his arm, like his 4th and 1 read option scramble or his incredible anticipatory throw to Troy Fumagalli. As the game went on, the sloppy footwork and struggles under pressure resurfaced, but he found his footing again to lead the Broncos on a late scoring drive.
Moving Down: Kevin Hogan looked nowhere near as steady this week as he did in Canton. Hogan’s timing was off for all of his time on the field, as we went 3-for-7 for 27 yards.
4th string Running Back: Devontae Booker (23) vs. Khalfani Muhammad (33) vs. Devontae Jackson (48)
Moving Up: Devontae Jackson helped himself out the most Thursday Night. Outside of the starters, the Broncos’ running backs were largely ineffective, and even then, Jackson wasn’t much of an improvement. Though, he did showcase his elite quickness on a late touchdown scamper.
Moving Down: Theo Riddick and Khalfani Muhammad were both disappointments against the Seahawks. Riddick has looked stellar in camp, but in the game was tackled for a loss on his lone carry and dropped a pass. Muhammad rushed for negative four yards on three carries and cost the Broncos a safety when he didn’t pick up a blitzing Seahawk.
6th-7th string Wide Receiver: Fred Brown (19) vs. Kelvin McKnight (16) vs. Trinity Benson (2) vs. River Cracraft (11) vs. Brendan Langley (12) vs. Nick Williams (86) vs. Steven Dunbar (13).
Moving Up: Nick Williams had the best catch-and-run of the night for the Broncos when he caught a floater from Lock on the boot and scampered through the Seahawk defense for 24 yards. Juwann Winfree made another circus catch for a score late when he converted a two-point conversion.
Moving Down: The Broncos receivers room is crowded, meaning a lot of guys won’t get the looks necessary in preseason to make the final roster. Guys like Fred Brown, River Cracraft, Trinity and Kelvin McKnight have three or fewer targets and no more than one reception, will have to do a lot of work now to make the final 53.
3rd-4th string Tight End: Troy Fumagalli (84) vs. Jake Butt (DNP) vs. Austin Fort (89).
Moving Up: Fumagalli showcased his prowess as a run blocker in this game and also caught a beautiful throw from Lock for a big conversion.
Moving Down: Austin Fort made a huge impact on his lone catch of the game, but he came down awkwardly and was forced to leave the game on the cart with an injury.
2nd string Outside Linebackers: Justin Hollins (52) vs. Dekoda Watson (56) vs. Jeff Holland (46) vs. Aaron Wallace (50) vs. Malik Reed (59) vs. Ahmad Gooden (94).
Moving Up: Malik Reed continues to look like the Broncos’ best undrafted free agent signing. Reed hauled in a sack and finished with four combined tackles for the second straight week and should make the final roster.
Moving Down: Aaron Wallace and Ahmad Gooden are now longshots to make the roster with the performances from the guys above them in the depth chart. Justin Hollins, Jeff Holland and Malik Reed are all more talented, and Dekoda Watson offers more on special teams.
2nd-3rd string Inside Linebacker: Joseph Jones (DNP) vs. Alexander Johnson (45) vs. Keishawn Bierria (40) vs. Josh Watson (54) vs. Joe Dineen (53)
Moving Up: With an injury-riddled group of linebackers, those healthy few among them had plenty of opportunities to make plays Thursday Night and Josh Watson made the most of them, combining on nine tackles. No other player had more than five.
Moving Down: Joe Dineen entered camp as one of the dundrafted free agents most likely to make the final roster, but in both of the Broncos’ first two preseason games he’s looked to slow to play at football’s highest level.
2nd-3rd string Safeties: Su’a Cravens (21) vs. Dymonte Thomas (35)vs. Trey Marshall (36)vs. Jamal Carter (20).
Moving Up: Su’a Cravens had another strong showing in Denver’s second preseason game. His four solo tackles were the most on the team, and he continues to look more in more comfortable at safety.
Moving Down: Dymonte Thomas and Trey Marshall both made mental errors that cost the Broncos big. Dymonte Thomas led with his helmet to draw an unecessary roughness penalty that gave the Seahawks the ball on the Denver 13.
Marshall missed a coverage assignment towards the end of the first half that led to a huge play and eventually a Seattle field goal later on the drive.
Kick Returner/Punt Returner: Devontae Booker (23) vs. River Cracraft (11) vs. Khalfani Muhammad (33) vs. Brendan Langley (12) vs. Devontae Jackson (48) vs. Kelvin McKnight (16).
Moving Up: The Broncos’ kick returners were especially ineffective in the first week of the preseason. Devontae Jackson and Khalfani Muhammad were the best of the bunch. Muhammad’s 24-yard return was the longest of the night, and Jackson continued to look incredibly shifty in the return game.
Moving Down: Devontae Booker and Kelvin McKnight both had a rough night on special teams. Booker had a underwhelming return on the opening kickoff, even before he fumbled it. McKnight on the other hand, took both returns awkwardly and either did nothing with the ball or went backwards.