The Denver Broncos have to cut their 79-man roster down to 53 players by 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 5. Several of the players who'll be cut will be re-signed to the practice squad, if they pass through waivers unclaimed by an outside team.
This year, due to the pandemic, the practice squad will grow from 10 players to 16. Six of those 16 spots can be veterans who no longer have practice squad eligibility — an amendment the NFLPA and NFL agreed to as a buffer against potential COVID-19 vagaries.
That said, who makes this 16-man practice squad? I predict the following players will be cut but that they'll be re-signed to the practice squad (provided they pass through waivers).
Andrew Beck | TE/FB
The hybrid tight end/fullback just happened to not make it because of the scheme of Pat Shurmur. With not as much usage from the tight ends and even more rarely a fullback, there isn’t a spot on the roster for him. Instead, the Broncos can call him up for games where they want to use a fullback and develop him for the blocking role for 2021.
Joe Jones | LB
Jones would be a good piece to keep around in case injuries happen on special teams or to the linebackers. He is a good special teams player who hasn’t gotten it figured out on defense yet.
Tyrie Cleveland | WR
Special teams potential could see him make the roster, but there is potential on offense as well. There needs a lot to be developed from Cleveland before he is anything but special teams player.
Quinn Bailey | OT
There seems to be a lot of love for Bailey and the potential he has from O-line coaches Mike Munchak and his assistant Chris Kuper. That keeps Bailey around on the practice squad.
Darrin Paulo, OT
Claimed off waivers at the 11th hour, Paulo is kept around to marinate and continue to develop under Munchak.
Douglas Coleman III | S
There seems to be a wide enough gap between Coleman and Duke Dawson and Trey Marshall to see him fail to make the roster, but his ball skills are enough to land him a spot on the practice squad.
Brett Rypien | QB
Being able to protect four players on the practice squad is what landed Rypien on the practice squad. If that wasn’t the case, he would’ve made the roster.
Jeremy Cox | RB
With the injury concerns the Broncos have at running back, it makes sense to carry an extra one on the practice squad. Cox is a very intriguing back with a complete and versatile skill-set who just needs to put it all together.
Calvin Anderson | OT
Denver seems to like Anderson and he has the versatility to play a few spots on the offensive line. He has earned a lot of praise in camp. His versatility likely helps him land a spot on the practice squad.
DeShawn Williams | DL
Now on his third go-round with the Broncos, the big veteran is kept around to provide some versatile depth on the defensive line.
Alijah Holder | S
A corner convert that is liked by the coaching staff, Holder sits as the fifth safety just behind Dawson and Marshall, which keeps him off the roster. The buzz he's garnered hints that he'll be sticking around on the practice squad at least. Maybe even on the 53.
Josh Watson | LB
A linebacker that is really liked by the coaching staff and could be one of the four protected practice squad players, look for Watson to stay with the Broncos in some way this year and compete next year to replace Todd Davis.
Derrek Tuszka | OLB
It came down to numbers as to why Tuszka isn’t on the roster. Also, there's the fact that Vic Fangio basically said this week that Tuszka isn't ready for NFL action yet and needs to get stronger and better at "everything".
Jake Butt | TE
Denver sees something in Butt to still keep him around and it seems it wants to keep him around to try and turn him into something. He has a chance for the roster with Denver being able to protect Albert Okwuegbunam on the practice squad, but the niche roll is filled better by the rookie fourth-rounder than Butt.
Trinity Benson | WR
Benson had a good camp but it's a logjam at wide receiver. The Broncos keep him around on the practice squad for the second straight year as a failsafe.
Kendall Hinton | WR
The former quarterback provides an interesting aspect to the scout team with what he can do. There is also a lot to work with to develop into a mighty fine situational receiver that can work from the slot and outside.