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How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
June 6, 2024

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders stands out as a prime prospect for the 2025 NFL Draft, and it’s no surprise he's the current favorite...

Predicting the Denver Broncos’ final 53-man roster

Every NFL general manager claims the hardest part of the job is making roster cuts at the cut deadline. Most years during cut season, every team will have a lot of roster locks but also a few surprise cuts too. John Elway Jr., the Denver Broncos general manager and president of football operations, is going to have to make 26 tough choices this season. This year teams are required to trim their roster down to 53 players by 2 p.m. MT on Saturday, Sept. 5. Here is my prediction for how the Denver Broncos’ roster will turn out after cuts are finalized. 

Quarterback (3): Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien

The Broncos would love to keep two quarterbacks and stash one on the practice squad, opening up another roster spot for a fringe roster guy, but this season is unlike any other because of COVID-19. A lot of the season banks on if Lock works out as the starting quarterback, but behind him, the depth is a little scary. Although Jeff Driskel is a playable backup in emergency situations and reports say Brett Rypien has impressed in camp as a prospect, the situation behind center is shaky for the Broncos. Because COVID-19 can strike at any given time and the quarterback position is the most important on the field, the Broncos may even look into a fourth arm to make the roster — a move that is uncommon when rosters are limited to 53 players.

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Running Back (4): Phillip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon, Royce Freeman, LeVante Bellamy

Denver might end up sticking with three backs here, considering Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon are going to absorb the vast majority of the carries. But I like the idea of a fourth back because of the likelihood of injury and wear and tear given the nature of the position. This gives LeVante Bellamy a spot and keeps alive the tradition of the Broncos having an undrafted rookie make the roster. 

Wide Receiver (6): Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, Diontae Spencer

Cutting Tyrie Cleveland, the team’s seventh-rounder this year, will be among the toughest decisions. Elway will hope he clears waivers and can sign to the practice squad, but his potential makes it a serious concern that he will sign elsewhere. Guys like Fred Brown and Juwann Winfree also miss out on a roster spot largely because of how many tight ends are worthy of a roster spot. The rest of the receiver room is young but blooming with talent. KJ Hamler’s lingering hamstring issue also makes things interesting, as he may be put on the injured reserve if he can’t return soon.

Tight End (5): Noah Fant, Nick Vannett, Albert Okwuegbunam, Jake Butt, Andrew Beck

The tight end room is absolutely loaded; it is by far the deepest position group on the team. Five tight ends is insanely high, especially for a team that is also deep at receiver and running back, but cutting any more players from this group would prove a difficult task for Elway. Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam are young studs, and Nick Vannett was a key free-agent acquisition. That being said, those three are locks. Butt has struggled with injuries but seems to be turning the corner and still has tons of unlocked potential. Andrew Beck makes the roster because he can also play full back. Austin Fort and Troy Fumagalli both had something to offer this team but should find jobs quickly on other teams. 

Offensive Line (9): Lloyd Cushenberry, Dalton Risner, Graham Glasgow, Garett Bolles, Elijah Wilkinson, Demar Dotson, Netane Muti, Patrick Morris, Austin Schlottmann

The offensive line has potential and should be improved, but it is lacking surefire depth in the second unit. The lack of depth may motivate the Broncos to keep nine, and that final spot goes to Austin Schlottman, who beats out Jake Rodgers because of his versatility to play anywhere on the line. Injury potential makes this a unit of concern, and expected right tackle Ja’Wuan James opted out of the season because of COVID-19 concerns. Still, Lloyd Cushenberry, Dalton Risner and the highly prized free-agent signee Graham Glasgow should all be good. The battle for the starting right tackle spot is the biggest position battle on the team.

Defensive Line (5): Jurrell Casey, Dre’Mont Jones, Shelby Harris, McTelvin Agim, Mike Purcell

The 53-man cap forces a couple of tough cuts here and makes the depth somewhat thin. However, the immense amount of talent of Jurrell Casey, Shelby Harris, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Purcell and McTelvin Agim lowers the pain of cutting DeMarcus Walker. Walker has been in the bubble for years since being drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft. I suspect Christian Covington is another unfortunate loss.

Linebacker (10): Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Jeremiah Attaochu, Malik Reed, Justin Hollins, A.J. Johnson, Todd Davis, Josey Jewell, Joe Jones, Mark Barron

Rookie Justin Strnad was expected to make the roster, but his season-ending wrist injury opens up a spot for someone else to shine. That guy is probably the recently signed Mark Barron who was signed to fill that coverage role. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will look to be the best edge-rushing tandem in the league. A.J. Johnson and Todd Davis look to form a stellar interior as the second line of defense. Joe Jones, Josey Jewell and Justin Hollins will all contribute on defense but may make their most significant impact on special teams.

Cornerback (5): A.J. Bouye, Bryce Callahan, Davontae Harris, Michael Ojemudia, Essang Bassey

A.J. Bouye is going to be the star, and Bryce Callahan is going to lock down slot receivers, but the third corner spot really can go to anyone. Harris was never a lock to make the team but has played a lot with the starters in training camp. Undrafted rookie Essang Bassey has had a great training camp and even received first-team reps at the nickel. He is probably the biggest surprise to make the team, mainly because of the coaching staff’s support. De’Vante Bausby, the former Alliance of American Football player and a significant contributor to last year’s squad, will be the biggest cut in the secondary. 

Safety (3): Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, Trey Marshall

The Broncos are thin behind the starters, but, luckily, Simmons and Jackson form one of the top back end duos in the league. Marshall has stuck on the roster for a while as a guy who can play a few snaps, allowing the starters to catch their breath.

Specialist (3): Brandon McManus, Sam Martin, Jacob Bobenmoyer

There isn’t any big decision to be had for the specialists anymore. With the release of long-snapper Wes Farnsworth already occurring, this position group is seemingly set in stone. 

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Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_

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