Trevor Siemian will be tough to unseat as Broncos quarterback

Look for Trevor Siemian, left, to be the Broncos' starting quarterback -- at least until Paxton Lynch is able to rip the job away from him. Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today Sports

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos could have a rookie left tackle in the starting lineup, and they still have a major decision to make at quarterback before the NFL season opens. Here’s a projected starting lineup:


Quarterback (Trevor Siemian): He's the starter until somebody wrestles the job away from him. Until Paxton Lynch wins it clean -- on the field and not on draft status -- it is Siemian’s job.

Running back (C.J. Anderson): This one could change, given that Devontae Booker was closing in on at least a look for the starting job when the offseason program drew to a close. And if Jamaal Charles' knees hold up through camp as well as the preseason, this is officially a running back-by-committee team.

Wide receiver (Demaryius Thomas): As the offseason program wound down, Thomas said he believed he had solved the riddle of almost constant hip pain over the past two seasons. He believes he’s ready for a return to his expected form -- where 1,500 yards receiving “is kind of a starting point."

Wide receiver (Emmanuel Sanders): Whether it was the weight of a new contract or the struggles of the offense overall at times, Sanders seemed out of sorts last season. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is going to be looking to push the ball down the field in the passing game, and he believes Sanders and Thomas are just the players to do it.

Tight end (Virgil Green): Every year it seems the Broncos surround Green on the depth chart in search of a combination that gives them more impact from the position in the passing game. And each year Green emerges as the best receiver-blocker combination in the group.

Tight end (Jake Butt): Butt will not be full speed in the preseason and perhaps not even when the regular season opens, but he’s a starter-in-waiting. The Broncos could well use a three-wide or a two-back look as their base offensive set, as well, but right now a two-tight end look appears to be the best early-down option.

Left tackle (Garett Bolles): Bolles was closing in on the job as the team’s June minicamp concluded. The athleticism can’t be denied, and if he can show some consistent work in the run game, he’ll be in the lineup for the opener.

Left guard (Max Garcia): Garcia looked far more comfortable at left guard than he did at right guard -- where he opened the offseason program. The Broncos be young on the left side, but they want the best five up front, and this look likely gives it to them.

Center (Matt Paradis): Paradis was medically cleared in early July in his recovery from offseason surgery on both hips. He’ll be ready to participate in camp, but the Broncos will likely go easy with him, at least initially, and he might be dialed back in the preseason as a precaution.

Right guard (Ron Leary): Leary was a prime target for the Broncos in free agency and he will show why as the season unfolds. This is a power presence the Broncos have needed in the middle of the field.

Right tackle (Menelik Watson): Watson always has been a bit of a riddle to this point in his career: a gifted player usually derailed by a series of nagging injuries. He was healthy and productive throughout the Broncos’ offseason program, and if that carries over, he could be in line for his best season.


Defensive end (Derek Wolfe): With the additions the Broncos have made to the defensive line in free agency and the draft, Wolfe should find a little more room to work this season, and that would be very good for the defense.

Nose tackle (Domata Peko): Peko is a productive, durable 12th-year player who has played in 16 games in 10 of his previous 11 seasons. The Broncos repeatedly were creased in the middle of their run defense last season, and they need Peko to stop that trend.

Defensive end (DeMarcus Walker): Walker could be the “starter" in name only, as in "guy who opened game," because the Broncos are going to play Zach Kerr and Adam Gotsis plenty, as well as Jared Crick. But Walker’s athleticism, especially in the pass rush, to go with the rookie's old-school work ethic will not be denied.

Outside linebacker (Von Miller): Miller is at the peak of his powers right now. He said during the offseason: “I’m ready to do more, I know it and I want to be better every day." If the Broncos’ defensive front is improved, Miller is poised for a monster season.

Inside linebacker (Brandon Marshall): Marshall is quick to say how much he didn’t like how he performed last season, but an improved defensive front should put him back on track as a 100-tackle player. He finished with at least 100 tackles in two of past three seasons.

Inside linebacker (Todd Davis): Davis isn’t the most recognized player outside the team’s complex, but the Broncos like his preparation and instincts. He’s not going to overwhelm blockers, but if the Broncos’ front can keep him clean, he’ll produce.

Outside linebacker (Shane Ray): This will be Ray’s first trip into the lineup as an unquestioned starter. He seems to have crossed the hurdle of being a gifted player who realized he wasn’t working quite hard enough after his rookie season in 2015. After eight starts last season, if Ray posts double-digit sacks in 2017, the Broncos’ pass rush will certainly be among the league's best.

Cornerback (Aqib Talib): Talib might have had his best overall season in 2016. He consistently shows he has a deep knowledge of the game and situational football hidden behind all of that shutdown corner bravado and occasional off-field turmoil.

Strong safety (T.J. Ward): Ward is in a contract year and will be the Broncos’ marquee free agent next offseason. He has played at a Pro Bowl level since his arrival and will again get work at weakside linebacker in some of the Broncos’ situational looks.

Free safety (Darian Stewart): The Broncos locked Stewart up to an extension before the 2016 season drew to a close. He had trouble staying healthy in his four years with the Rams, but has played 16, 15 and 16 games with the Ravens and Broncos over the past three seasons.

Cornerback (Chris Harris Jr.): No top-shelf cornerback in the league can do all of the things Harris can do. He can line up and play at an elite level on both sides of the formation, both on the outside and in the slot, as well. He also has lined up at safety at times when injuries have forced the Broncos' hand.

Special teams

Kicker (Brandon McManus): McManus is in search of a long-term deal, and he didn’t sign his restricted free agent tender until the Broncos had almost finished their offseason program. He is 59-of-69 on field-goal attempts over the past two seasons, including eight field goals of at least 50 yards.

Punter (Riley Dixon): Dixon, a seventh-round pick in 2016, flashed some big potential in his rookie season. The Broncos need more consistency when he is asked to move the ball around the field a bit and punt to pinch a returner on a given sideline.

Long snapper (Casey Kreiter): Kreiter has the look of a player who could have this job for a while with the Broncos. He’s consistent in both the short and longer snaps, and after spending time in two training camps with the Dallas Cowboys, he has shown the persistence that seems to be required of the position.