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Way-too-early look at Broncos' offensive depth chart

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Posted at 2:30 PM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 17:16:06-04

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The numbers create squirms.

Any dissection of the Broncos' 2016 offense remains uncomfortable. The Broncos ranked 27th in yards per game, 26th in yards per play, 22nd in points per game (20.8), and 27th in rushing yards. Even more damning, they sat 26th in red zone touchdown percentage, and 31st in third-down conversions.

Translation: When the Broncos managed decent drives, which were not frequent enough, they couldn't find the end zone. 

Welcome back Mike McCoy. He returns as the Broncos' offensive coordinator after a stint as the Chargers' head coach. McCoy brings a reputation for adjusting to his personnel, using more shotgun formations, while also not forgetting the importance of a physical running game.

Two things appear certain as the Broncos prepare to begin three days of OTAs on Tuesday at Dove Valley. They can't be worse offensively, and there will be a battery of new faces. Of course, things can change. But it's time for a way-too-early look at Broncos' offensive depth chart: 

OFFENSIVE LINE

It starts upfront. The Broncos allowed 40 sacks last season as offseason tackle signings Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson failed to meet expectations. Denver has undergone a massive makeover, and could feature three new starters:

LT Garett Bolles, Donald Stephenson: The Broncos hope Bolles is the longterm solution to a gnawing problem. I don't expect him to open with the No. 1s on Tuesday, even though I list him there, but I believe he will win the job in training camp. One of the veterans -- Ty Sambrailo or Donald Stephenson -- figures to man the position initially. Both Sambrailo and Stephenson lost the job last season, benched on multiple occasions. 

LG Ron Leary, Connor McGovern: Leary is a lock. He's a tough guy counted on to bring a physical presence and barbed-wire mentality to the line of scrimmage. If the Broncos' run game improves in the gap blocking scheme, Leary figures to be a big reason why.

C Matt Paradis, Connor McCovern: Paradis continues on track to be ready for training camp following offseason hip surgeries. He has not missed a snap in two seasons. The Broncos need to see what they have in McGovern, who did not suit a year ago. He has ridiculous strength, and versatility could help him become active on game day.

RG Max Garcia, Michael Schofield: Garcia represents another player who could benefit from a fresh start in a new scheme. He shows amazing ability on one play, then misses an assignment on the next snap. The talent appears there. He needs to find consistency. Schofield is valuable because he can play guard and tackle, and brings starting experience to a backup role.

RT Menelik Watson, Ty Samrbailo: Watson is an X-factor. When on the field, he's a strong performer. Yet, he played in only 27 of 48 games with 17 starts. Durability is a skill. He has to show he can stay healthy. His backup, whether Sambrailo or Stephenson, needs to be ready. 

WR Demaryius Thomas, Jordan Taylor: Coach Vance Joseph challenged Thomas to be "dominant all the time." The new offense, with a diet of bubble screens and more route concepts, should help. Thomas also has to limit drops. Jordan Taylor showed flashes last season. He must be reliable in the passing game to make team since he does not have a regular role on special teams. 

WR Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer: Sanders is determined to serve as a leader. He produces on the field, and earns respect with his toughness. He should put up big numbers in McCoy's system. Latimer has reached a make-or-break point in career. 

SR Carlos Henderson, Bennie Fowler: Like Bolles, Henderson might start from jump, but he will push for the job in training camp. In fact, it would be a mild disappointment if he doesn't win it. He is built like a running back with the ability to break tackles. Henderson could catch five touchdowns. He's that explosive.  Fowler needs a rebound after critical drops stained last season.

TE Virgil Green, A.J. Derby, Jeff Heuerman: This position requires more production. When Jake Butt returns from injury, the Broncos should have a red zone threat. Of the three players currently listed, one likely will not make the team. Green is a solid blocker, but this offense could rely more heavily on pass catchers. This is a crossroads season for Heuerman, who has been a disappointment because of injuries. Derby provides a vertical threat on seam routes in the passing game. 

RB C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charles: Anderson will be pushed. He is in great shape after taking up cycling this offseason. In my opinion, he will compete for the first-second down role with Charles finding a niche on third down. Anderson plays his best when doubted, which means this is a big spring and summer for him.

QB Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch: Joseph wants a sound decision maker. Someone who can balance taking care of the ball and taking chances. It is why Siemian is the frontrunner. He will benefit from this offense as much as Lynch. He will have freedom to audible to more than one play at the line of scrimmage. Lynch has taken steps forward. He is more comfortable and confident. He must learn the playbook enough to let his athleticism show.

FB Andy Janovich, Juwan Thompson: Janovich plays with violent intentions. He broke multiple facemasks and helmets with vicious hits last year before an ankle injury ended his season. It will be interesting to see how the fullback fits in this offense. Janovich has the ability to play on special teams, too.

               


               

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Want Broncos news? Denver7 Broncos insider Troy E. Renck is your source. He talks to the players, covers the games and reports scoops on Denver7 and the Denver7 app. He is a CU grad who has covered pro sports in Colorado since 1996, including 14 years at The Denver Post. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and TheDenverChannel.com’s Broncos page. Troy welcomes most of your emails at Troy.Renck@kmgh.com.