A rookie college free agent has made the Broncos’ active roster out of training camp in each of the last nine seasons– the 3rd-longest active streak in the league. Overall, 15 college free agents have made Denver’s season-opening roster since 1997. In 2012, Long Snapper Aaron Brewer and Linebacker Steven Johnson earned a roster spot coming out of Training Camp. They both contributed heavily on Special Teams, with Johnson making 10 Tackles and Brewer adding two while not missing a single Special Teams snap. This is promising news for the CFA’s that Denver brought to Training Camp this year.
The Broncos currently have 22 players that began their NFL career as college free agents, which is a testament to the scouting staff: Mike Adams, Lance Ball, Justin Boren, Mario Butler, Tony Carter, Chris Clark, Britton Colquitt, Paul Cornick, C.J. Davis, Ben Garland, Chris Harris, Duke Ihenacho, Jeremiah Johnson, Steven Johnson, Greg Orton, Matt Prater, Quentin Saulsberry, Gerell Robinson, Mitch Unrein, Wes Welker and Wesley Woodyard. That is nearly half the team.
2013 BRONCO CFA’s
The Broncos have 15 College Free Agents on the roster at this time. Let’s take a look at them and how they stack up.
QB Ryan Katz
The 6-1, 217-pounder out of San Diego State has been a Camp arm. Essentially has has come in to throw practice balls to the Wide Receivers and also handle all the other QB chores to limit the overuse of Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert. The valuable on the job training he receives by being in a Pro Camp and in close proximity to Peyton Manning is his return. Ryan will be among the first cuts and though he has Practice Squad eligibility, it is doubtful that the Broncos sign him to the eight-man squad.
RB C.J. Anderson
This 5-8, 224 lb. rookie out of California has been impressive, all the way up to the MCL sprain he suffered on the last day of Camp. Anderson had been climbing the depth chart and asserting himself to be a part of the final roster. Due to a few injuries he was able to get extended work with the second unit. His most notable effort came in the 1st preseason game against the 49ers, where he put up 69 yards on 15 carries. C.J. will be out for another month and it’s difficult to think he will make the final roster. I estimate the team will try to sign him to their Practice Squad.
WR Kemonte’ Bateman
This 6-1, 185 lb. CFA from New Mexico State has had an up and down Camp. He caught 50 passes for 707 yards and five Touchdowns in 12 games as a Senior for the Aggies last year, so he has the chops. The Broncos only have 2 spots open in a crowded situation loaded with talent. I think Kemonte’ needs to show a little more to make the final roster and could also end up on the Practice Squad.
WR Quincy McDuffie
A 5-10, 178 lb. speedster out of Central Florida, Quincy had a pretty good first week in Training Camp. McDuffie just returned to practice Monday after missing two weeks due to a hamstring injury. When healthy, this kid showed some quick moves not unlike Trindon Holliday. The Broncos had him working as Holliday’s backup as a returner until the Hammy. He is listed on the depth chart behind Wes Welker, but really, Quincy hasn’t shown enough to contend for the final 53.
WR Lamaar Thomas
This 6-0, 185 lb. Undrafted Free Agent got the nickname “Flash”at New Mexico. He has been steadily showing improvement throughout Training Camp. Out of the 3 CFA Wide Receivers, Lamaar may have been the steadiest. But with the top 3 Receivers already known, one has to think there is only one or two spots left. Gerell Robinson, Andre Caldwell, 5th round draft pick Tavarres King and the still injured Greg Orton will all have something to say before cut time. It is hard to think the Broncos would keep more than one Receiver on the Practice Squad also, so the decision on who stays may come down to which player has the hot hand. Regardless, I believe the Wide Receiver position will have some quality depth.
G Manase Foketi
At 6-5, 310 lbs., this big man out of West Texas A&M has the ideal size to play Guard for the Broncos. He is stuck at the 4th string Left Tackle position on the depth chart behind Clady, Chris Clark and Paul Cornick. I have seen Foketi make a few plays at Camp, but to be truthful, I haven’t noticed a whole lot out of him. Due to the CBA’s restrictions on full contact drills, the linemen are difficult to properly evaluate. In my opinion, Manase has an outside chance at making the Practice Squad, but that may depend on injury and needed depth.
DT Romney Fuga
A 6-2, 318 lb. interior lineman out of BYU has done well enough to make Sealver Siliga expendable. Still, he is the fifth man in a position that will only keep 4 players. My thought is that Romney ends up on the Practice Squad, since that is where Siliga would have ended up.
DE Lanston Tanyi
This Colorado State graduate goes 6-2, 258 lbs. Tanyi actively applied pressure in a consistent manner during Training Camp while working with the third string Defense. Lanston is listed as the 4th Right Defensive End behind Robert Ayers, Shaun Phillips and Quanterus Smith.
DE John Youboty
Is a 6-4, 258 lb. speed rusher out of Temple. John had also been getting consistent pressure with the third unit during Training Camp. In fact, more often than not, he and Tanyi kept meeting up at the Quarterback. Between the two, Youboty is two years younger and two inches taller. With Von Miller’s six game suspension, one of these two may gain a roster spot and the other end up on the Practice Squad because Shaun Phillips will be taking Miller’s place on pass rushing downs. If it happens that the Broncos keep an extra DE instead of Linebacker to fill the void in Von’s absence, I believe John has the edge. Youboty is listed as fourth on the depth chart at Left Defensive End, behind Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Jeremy Beal.
LB Damien Holmes
This 6-2, 245 lb. CFA from UCLA is only 22 years old. He has made a few plays during Training Camp and might be one of the better Special Teams guys in this year’s CFA class. Listed as the 4th string SAM Linebacker behind Von Miller, Shaun Phillips and Lerentee McCray, Damien is a long shot to make the club.
LB Uona Kaveinga
He is 5-11 and 235 lbs. out of BYU. Despite being a tad small for a Linebacker, Kaveinga has managed to make a few plays when he is not out of position. If he gets the chance to develop, Uona could make it in the Pros due to possessing a nose for the ball. He has been working behind Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan at the Weakside Linebacker spot. Kaveinga may gain a Practice Squad job. Or he may not. His fate is tied to Damien Holmes and Von Miller’s 6 game suspension.
LB Lerentee McCray
This 6-3, 249 lb. Linebacker out of Florida has a decent shot at making the 53 man final roster, and not just because of the Von Miller situation. McCray has actually stood out at times during Training Camp flying around and making plays, albeit with the backups. He is listed as the third string SAM Linebacker behind Von Miller and Shaun Phillips. By my reckoning, Lerentee is the 8th LB. With Stewart Bradley out indefinitely, McCray’s making the team may hinge on how well Paris Lenon does in the next weeks. If he doesn’t make the final 53, he should be a lock for the Practice Squad.
CB Nigel Malone
A late replacement in Training Camp, this 5-10, 180 recruit out of Kansas State (Chris Harris’ alma mater) came in and went to work. I noticed him in his first few days at Camp, making a few plays here and there. Because of his late start, Nigel is last on the depth chart. The Cornerback position has quite a bit of talent backing it up. So if there is a spot for a Cornerback on the Practice Squad, Malone should be the guy.
DB Aaron Hester
Listed as 6-1, 207 lbs., this UCLA product has worked both at Safety and Cornerback during Training Camp. He is listed just ahead of Nigel Malone and, depending on the circumstances, could end up on the Practice Squad.
S Ross Rasner
This 6-0, 208-pounder out of Arkansas had the distinction of being one of the first players on the field each day at Training Camp. Like the previous two players above, he has made a few plays during Camp, but hasn’t progressed up the depth chart. Considering my belief that Quentin Jammer gets cut, it would be long odds for Rasner to make the roster.
Most of these players listed here won’t make the roster, though they are all Practice Squad eligible. Out of these 15 players, I could see a chance for 3 of them to survive the final cut—C.J. Anderson, Lamaar Thomas and Lerentee McCray. However, I will say one thing. I’m glad I’m not making the decisions.
– Kaptain Kirk