KUSA – Change is welcome.
When the Broncos came off their 2015 Super Bowl season, change at quarterback (Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler didn’t return), right outside linebacker (DeMarcus Ware was often injured), and left defensive end (Malik Jackson bolted for free agency and Jacksonville) brought downgrades.
Now that the Broncos are coming off a 5-11 season that was the franchise’s worst since 2010, change is a must.
In Keenum and the Kids, the Broncos have hope for 2018.
Newly signed free agent quarterback Case Keenum and a rookie class led by No. 5 overall draft pick Bradley Chubb have zapped the Broncos with the belief they will be a changed team in 2018. For the better.
This intends no disrespect to the fine games of Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Demaryius Thomas and Matt Paradis, among other proven Broncos starters. It’s just that they had fine seasons in 2017 and the Broncos still finished last in the AFC West.
Keenum is new and should be improved. He was the NFL’s seventh-best quarterback last season after he threw 22 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions for a 98.3 passer rating while leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.
Meanwhile, a trio of Broncos passers -- Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch – combined to give Denver the 31st-best quarterback play with 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a 73.0 rating that bested only DeShone Kizer and the Cleveland Browns in the 32-team NFL.
Besides Keenum, there is promise Broncos general manager John Elway just had his best draft class since his first one in 2011. Not so coincidentally, Elway had the No. 2 overall draft selection in 2011 when he made the right call in choosing Von Miller instead of Marcell Dareus, and he had the No. 5 selection this spring when he took Chubb instead of trading back with Buffalo.
In the six years between 2011 and 2018, when Elway suffered too many misses, his average first pick was No. 27.
Besides Miller, a six-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl 50 MVP, Elway also came up with starters Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin, Virgil Green and Pro Bowlers’ Julius Thomas and Harris (undrafted free agent) for his first rookie class.
The 2018 rookie class could bolster similar depth. Chubb is expected to immediately start opposite Miller at Ware’s former right outside linebacker position. In second-round pick Courtland Sutton and fourth-rounder DaeSean Hamilton, the Broncos hope they found the eventual receiver duo replacements to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Third-round pick Royce Freeman could well be the Broncos’ starting running back at some point this season and fourth-round inside linebacker Josey Jewell will be expected to play this year and start in 2019.
Broncos rookies report for training camp next Tuesday with the veterans to follow three days later. The Broncos’ first camp practice, which is open free to the public, will be Saturday morning, July 28.
It will be the first time Broncos fans will be able to see Keenum and the Kids break a sweat at UCHealth Training Center. To say the Broncos will be better than last year’s 5-11 edition isn’t saying much. But they should be better. Changes were made. Changes were necessary.