ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- As the Denver Broncos' rookies move through the second full day of their head-start program Tuesday, the team’s draft class finds itself in the early stages of trying to squeeze its way on to the roster of the defending Super Bowl winner.
There is always the possibility there won’t be enough roster chairs for the first-year players when the music stops, but some will make it and each one of the players has an avenue to do that if things fall his way.
How it has to go:
QB Paxton Lynch: Lynch is making the roster, that’s a slam dunk. But the first-rounder is likely looking at a redshirt year in terms of playing time unless something goes horribly awry behind center with Mark Sanchez or Trevor Siemian. Lynch needs plenty of work in his footwork and his pre-snap reads, and the Broncos are in a position to give a player they believe can be a future franchise quarterback the time he needs to develop the right way.
DL Adam Gotsis: Gotsis, who suffered a torn ACL last Halloween during his senior season at Georgia Tech, was a must-have player for the Broncos. He’ll make the roster, and if he has progressed as expected physically the Broncos want him in the rotation in the defensive front. He’s raw in technique but a rare athlete the Broncos will get into the mix as soon as he’s ready.
S Justin Simmons: Sure, the players weren’t in pads as the Broncos went through their on-field work in May and June, but Simmons was around the ball plenty in team drills -- so much so that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took notice. Simmons will likely have a full slate of special teams work immediately and should be in the mix for David Bruton Jr.’s former job as the team’s extra safety in their specialty packages.
RB Devontae Booker: Booker should have a roster spot and flashed a skillset in the offseason workouts that will put him in the mix to be the situational replacement for C.J. Anderson. Again, they were pad-less practices and Booker wasn’t 100 percent as he is coming back from a torn meniscus suffered last season at Utah, but he showed good vision when running, is smooth catching the ball and, at 219 pounds, is just the kind of back Gary Kubiak likes to have in the offense.
G Connor McGovern: The Broncos like McGovern as a powerful, potentially versatile player in the middle of the offensive line. They’ll work him at both guard spots initially, and he expected to eventually take some snaps at center as well. If he makes the transition into the offense, McGovern could make the roster and spend a year learning, often serving as a gameday inactive. Injuries to others would certainly speed up his timetable, but the Broncos like what they've seen so far.
S Will Parks: Like Simmons, Parks finds himself battling for playing time in a secondary with three players who’ve been named to a Pro Bowl in Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward. The secondary also has potential starters in Darian Stewart and Bradley Roby, but Parks is physical and should make a special teams impact immediately. Parks will have to beat out some more experienced players, but there is a scenario where the Broncos could potentially have rookies backing up both safety spots.
FB Andy Janovich: Janovich fits the profile of a mid-to-late round pick who was selected with a specific role to fill immediately. The Broncos have made no secret that the two-back set is back in the offense and the sixth-rounder is now the only true fullback on the roster. The Broncos also believed he was one of the most accomplished special teams players on the draft board, so if Janovich holds up his end of the bargain in the weeks ahead he should get significant playing time.
P Riley Dixon: It’s rare for a team to use a draft pick on a punter -- the Broncos last used a draft pick on a punter in 2001 when they selected Nick Harris in the fourth round -- and it’s even rarer when a team has a punter like Britton Colquitt on the roster. But the Broncos have some cap concerns, and Colquitt is scheduled to count $4 million against the cap this year and was asked to take a pay cut last season. Dixon showed a powerful leg in offseason work, but now has to show it in games.