Projecting Broncos 53-Man Roster Based on Early Training Camp Buzz

Erick Trickel

The Denver Broncos are a young team with a lack of experience at multiple positions. However, there are some obvious locks to make Denver's 53-man roster. 

That makes projecting the Broncos final roster a little easier with about 10 or so spots really up for grabs. With a couple of weeks in the books, training camp is only now really getting underway with the Broncos entering Phase 2 in this pandemic-amended summer. 

Two players opted out of the 2020 season and the Broncos have waived or released a handful of players. Based on what I've seen and heard so far, here's my latest 53-man roster projection.

Quarterbacks (2)

Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel

Nothing shocking here. Initially, there was some consideration to include Brett Rypien on the roster, but since teams can now protect four players on the practice squad, it made it an easy decision to keep only two. 

As the starter, Lock is obvious and it seems Driskel is well on his way to securing the backup job.

Running Backs (4)

Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Le’Vante Bellamy

There are some injury concerns at the running back position, which is why four backs are kept on the roster, with a fifth one on the practice squad. Denver seems to want its offense to run through its backs, which adds to the importance of keeping the position stocked and ready. 

Gordon and Lindsay will be the 1A and 1B backs with Freeman likely seeing a few touches after winning the third back spot due to his experience. Bellamy hangs around just in case of an injury and provides a speed boost when needed to the backfield.

Wide Receivers (6)

Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, Diontae Spencer

Denver went from having a terrible receiver corps to having one with the most potential in the NFL. The Broncos' No. 2 and 3 receivers from last year got pushed down to the 4 and 5, which should help the depth at the position. 

Sutton and Jeudy should develop into a dynamic duo, with Hamler being an explosive play-maker to really open up the offense. Spencer is kept as the returner but he needs to be more consistent this season.

Tight Ends (3)

Noah Fant, Nick Vannett, Albert Okwuegbunam

OC Pat Shurmur doesn’t use tight ends all that often, and so the need for multiple players at the position isn’t quite as high. Fant is the starter with Vannett being the blocker. 

The Broncos keep Okwuegbunam around to fill a niche role as he develops into more. 

Offensive Tackles (4)

Garett Bolles, Demar Dotson, Elijah Wilkinson, Jake Rodgers

Dotson should come in as the starter opposite Bolles and will provide an upgrade over Wilkinson. There is a lack of a true swing tackle among the four which could be a problem.

Interior Offensive Line (6)

Dalton Risner, Graham Glasgow, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Netane Muti, Austin Schlottmann, Patrick Morris

Cushenberry, a rookie third-rounder, has already done the work needed to really push himself ahead in the battle for the starting center position. Risner and Glasgow provide good pieces to help Cushenberry grow and adapt to the starting role. 

Muti, a rookie sixth-rounder, will likely have a medical red-shirt year, while Morris and Sschlottmann provide experienced depth.

Defensive Line (6)

Jurrell Casey, Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell, Dre’Mont Jones, McTelvin Agim, Christian Covington

Five of the six spots seem to be cemented already. Purcell is the only nose tackle while Casey and Harris provide that veteran presence at the end positions. 

Denver invested too much in Jones and Agim over the past two drafts, both being third-round picks, to not have them make the roster. The last spot has a few competing for it, but Covington edges out the rest. 

Edge Rushers (4) 

Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Jeremiah Attaochu, Malik Reed

Here we have two starters and a backup for each. Attaochu really stepped up last year in a depth role and the Broncos need Reed to develop more after he fell off late last season. A

s for Miller and Chubb, both are looking to bounce back after a down year from Miller and a season mostly lost to injury for Chubb. 

Linebackers (5)

Alexander Johnson, Todd Davis, Josey Jewell, Justin Strnad, Justin Hollins

Johnson and Davis are locked as the starters. Jewell will take over the special teams tole that he really excelled at last year and provide some solid depth. 

Look for Strnad, a rookie fifth-rounder, to provide the coverage role in sub-packages (if he develops) and for Hollins to continue to be used in his hybrid role the Broncos have pursued with him. 

Cornerbacks (6)

A.J. Bouye, Michael Ojemudia, Bryce Callahan, De’Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom, Essang Bassey

Look for the starters to be Bouye and Ojemudia with Callahan being the starting nickel. It doesn’t sound like Denver wants Callahan out there on the boundary and part of it is to protect his health. 

The cornerback depth is concerning which means everyone needs to step up, but there have been a lot of positive comments made about Bausby, Yiadom, and Bassey (an undrafted rookie) so far. 

Safeties (4) 

Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, Trey Marshall, Duke Dawson

The Broncos have an outstanding starting duo with Jackson and Simmons, but the depth is questionable. Marshall and Dawson don’t have much competition and they're ahead of the other safeties in the pecking order on the roster, which lands them the third and fourth safety spot, respectively. 

Specialists (3)

Brandon McManus, Sam Martin, Wes Farnsworth

Not much to say here. One kicker and punter on the roster, so the job is theirs. As for long snapper, I have no idea who is going to win, so Farnsworth's name is here simply as a 50-50 shot in the dark. 

My 16-man practice squad prediction will be unveiled in a separate article. Check back on Thursday afternoon. 

Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel and @MileHighHuddle. 

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Comments (8)
No. 1-6

I dont like people saying James Dumped on the team. That's not fair. He has had a very rough start but all has been his fault and it's not like he doesn't have a good reason to opt out. Also I agree that Locke will be good but the example he used with Kyler and Jones was one that should have been left alone cause it didn't need to be said because it didn't help make his point. Im all in on Locke because he needs us to be and he has to be.


James is a quitter! He’s junk now and always was junk! He would rather look for a way not to play than honor his contract, cut him!


The roster projection looks fairly coherent at this. It will also be interesting
to see who gets put on the practice squad.


Hey Erick your projection seems about right but I would be interested to see your 53 projection with the 10 or 12 men can’t remember which practice squad. I see names like Juwann Winfree Josh Watson Jake Butt Tyrie Cleveland and so on not on here and would be interested in who you see the Broncos carrying on their PS.


I'm surprised to see Duke Dawson as a Safety when I thought he would play Nickel this year. What about Douglas Coleman as Safety as well?


Still waiting for the practice squad article. If Butt doesn't make the 53, I hope they keep him on the PS. What about Walker? The Broncos can keep 16 and protect 4 from being snapped up by other teams, is that correct? Unless the Broncos can trade James, they will not cut him. That would be a huge cap hit, and he would just move on to another team. Like it or not, he will be here next year barring some unforeseen circumstance. I hope then he finally makes good on his huge salary.