ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- John Elway has routinely said he doesn't like entering draft weekend with "glaring needs." He believes that can lure a team into picking a player solely to fill a need at the expense of potential impact players left on the board.
But with the NFL draft now just over a week away, the Denver Broncos just might have created a glaring need on their roster this week. After the Broncos released C.J. Anderson, there are 75 players on the Broncos' roster and just two of those are running backs -- Devontae Booker and De'Angelo Henderson.
The Broncos do have a fullback in Andy Janovich and have handed the ball to him 10 times over the past two seasons. He'll combine with Booker, with his 253 carries over two seasons, and Henderson, with his seven career carries during that stretch, to account for all of the Broncos' carries with the first round of the draft nine days away. Given coach Vance Joseph has said he believes the Broncos' ability to run the ball will be a big part of the offense in the season to come, it would seem they have some work to do at the position.
"I thought our run game was good enough last year on early downs ... we showed we could move the ball," is how Joseph put it in recent weeks. "... We can do some things better, but we want to have the capability to challenge defenses with that and make them give us things in coverages we can take advantage of."
The crop of available free agents at the position has been largely picked over, leaving mostly a group of 30-somethings like DeMarco Murray, Adrian Peterson, Darren Sproles (he wants to re-sign with the Eagles) and C.J. Spiller. There are also slightly younger players such as Alfred Morris and Orleans Darkwa.
Elway already has said "it's a deep class of running backs" as well as "you're going to be able to find guys who can help your football team in those middle and later rounds" at the position.
The only back who likely grades out to be a possibility for the Broncos at No. 5 overall is Penn State's Saquon Barkley. Barkley is so highly rated among the league's personnel evaluators, though, that the Broncos may need as many as three quarterbacks to be selected ahead of them.
There will be potential impact backs selected in this draft long after Barkley hears his name called, though. Just start with Georgia's combo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, along with LSU's Derrius Guice, USC's Ronald Jones II and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny.
Michel, Guice and Penny all have the potential to be selected in the opening round. Auburn's Kerryon Johnson, Oregon's Royce Freeman and NC State's Nyheim Hines are backs who could be selected before the draft's second day is done.
With the Broncos' addition of Case Keenum at quarterback and the removal of the "interim" tag on offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, the team is poised to run an offense with plenty of play-action and a healthy serving of run plays with the quarterback under center. Both Joseph and Musgrave have said they always reserve the right to adapt and they have each said they believe Booker is ready to be a primary ball carrier.
Booker has had 174 and 79 carries, respectively, in his first two seasons.
"We want to build our scheme around our players, so obviously signing Case, that's a big upgrade for us right now in our minds," Joseph said. "So we're going back to the drawing board and finding an offense that fits Case and also fits Paxton [Lynch]."
At the moment, all eight of the Broncos' picks in the draft are in the first five rounds. In Elway's tenure as the Broncos' chief football decision-maker, they have used four draft picks on running backs, with three of those selections coming in the first four rounds -- Ronnie Hillman (third round, 2012), Montee Ball (second round, 2013) and Booker (fourth round, 2016).