NFL PREVIEW: 2020 DENVER BRONCOS

BY ADAM GREENE

Key Additions: OG Graham Glasgow (free agent), QB Jeff Driskel (free agent), TE Nick Vannett (free agent), RB Melvin Gordon III (free agent), P Sam Martin (free agent). DE Jurrell Casey (trade), CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DT Christian Covington (free agent)

2020 NFL Draft: WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (round 1), WR K.J. Hamler, Penn State (round 2), CB Michael Ojemudia, Iowa (round 3), C Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU (round 3), DL McTelvin Agim (round 3), TE Albert Okwugbunam, Missouri (round 4), LB Justin Strnad, Wake Forest (round 5), OG Netane Muti, Fresno State (round 6), Tyrie Cleveland, Florida (round 7), Edge Derrek Tuszka, North Dakota State (round 7)

Projected Offensive Starters: QB Drew Lock, RB Melvin Gordon, WR Courtland Sutton, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR K.J. Hamler, TE Noah Fant, LT Garrett Bolles, LG Dalton Risner, C Lloyd Cushenberry III, RG Graham Glasgow, RT Ja’Waun James

Projected Defensive Starters: LDE Jurrell Casey, NT Mike Purcell, RDE Shelby Harris, WLB Von Miller, LILB Alexander Johnson, RILB Todd Davis, SLB Bradley Chubb, LCB Isaac Yiadom, RCB A.J. Bouye, SS Kareem Jackson, FS Justin Simmons

K: Brandon McManus

P: Sam Martin

Head Coach: Vic Fangio

2019 Record: 7-9, 2nd place, AFC West

A Look Back: I was one of the few NFL writers in the world that liked the Broncos going into the season with Joe Flacco at quarterback. I always felt that Flacco had a bad rap and was, unquestionably, one of the best postseason QBs of his generation. It turns out, it wasn’t a good match. Flacco didn’t like the offense the team put together and got hurt, finishing the year on injured reserve.

But hope springs eternal and the Broncos eventually handed the keys to rookie second round pick Drew Lock, who finished up 4-1 as a starter with a 64.1 completion percentage, 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His only loss behind center was to the Kansas City Chiefs, which was preordained in a Mayan tablet. There was no universe in which Denver was going to win that game.

2020 Projection: And therein lies the problem for the Denver Broncos. Patrick Mahomes is still the Michael Jordon of the NFL and as long as he’s healthy, you have to put the Chiefs as the AFC West favorites and pretty much count any match up with them as a loss.

For all the good that Lock showed, it’s a small sample size, just five games. He’s entering his second year as the unquestioned starter with no real offseason to speak of and whatever training camp looks like in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, you can’t feel good about a strong start for this team.

Add to that a cross-conference match up with a loaded NFC South along with games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Cam Newton-led New England Patriots and this team could be 20 percent better and still finish with a losing record.

Projected 2020 Final Record: 7-9. It looks like the books and I see it the same way again. Denver at 5-9 wins pays off at -190 and over 7.5 victories pays at -135. Every other outcome pays in plus money.

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