!'s, √'s, ?'s
Now what, Broncos?
Although the veteran and collegiate free agent signing period is over and the NFL draft done, the roster and the depth chart are set in wet cement, not hard concrete.
Only 131 shopping days remain until the Broncos open at home against the - Five Seasons After.
So, let's examine the Broncos position-by-position and apply exclamation marks, check marks and question marks.
? - Quarterback: The Broncos didn't pick one of the dozen selected in seven rounds - or the eight undrafted quarterbacks who signed afterward. They are going with what they got - Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly, who will cost the Broncos $17,080,000 ($15 million to Keenum). But they (Lynch) have a 1-3 record with the Broncos. Is Keenum a one-hit wonder or a star starter, Lynch a first-round flop or a late bloomer, Kelly a budding backup or a dreadful dud?
? - Running back: The Broncos let go of their 1,000-yard runner; they drafted two (Royce Freeman and David Williams) and signed hometown favorite Phillip Lindsay. But can any or all replace and improve upon C.J. Anderson? Despite the Broncos' love for Devontae Booker and the uncertainty about De'Angelo Henderson and his One Big Play, Freeman should have immediate impact.
! - Wide receiver: There are 10. The Broncos filled a need by choosing two - Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. Jerry Rice wanted the 49ers to pick Sutton. Strong endorsement. He will be the third receiver to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and Hamilton will compete with wayward Carlos Henderson at slot receiver. Jordan Taylor will stick again, Isaiah McKenzie won't if he doesn't learn how to play.
? - Tight end: If, ands and Jake Butt. The Broncos drafted their third tight end from the Big Ten (Wisconsin's Troy Fumagalli) in four years. Will they ever get it right?
√ - Offensive tackle: Garett Bolles made the all-rookie team and the all-penalty team. He should be developed in '18. Jared Veldheer was a valuable addition. What's Menelik Watson still doing here? The Broncos are thin.
√ - Offensive guard: I was in between this and ?, but the Broncos have moved Ron Leary back to the left side, which will help them and Bolles. Connor McGovern was rather average in five starts at right guard. Max Garcia was inadequate as a starter, but should be adequate as a backup.
! - Center: Matt Paradis is one of the NFL's premier centers, and McGovern is a better center than guard.
√ - Defensive end: Derek Wolfe is terrific when healthy. He plays hurt, which he often is. Adam Gotsis is a major ? because of the sexual assault allegation. Shelby Harris was a rare, and cheap ($705,000), find by the Broncos and can be a starter. Second-round pick DeMarcus Walker was ruined by the coaches in 2017 and his own ambiguity. He should be more of a factor.
√ - Defensive tackle: Domata Peko is a player and a presence, but there's a serious falloff with backups and his cousin Kyle Peko. The Broncos didn't draft anybody for the defensive line.
!!!! - Outside linebacker: Bradley Chubb put the "D'' back in "enver,'' "efense'' and "ege'' for the Broncos, who possess the most superb collection of outside linebackers in all of football with Chubb joining Von Miller, Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett, and even undrafted free agent Jeff Holland, projected as a fifth-round pick.
√ - Inside linebacker: Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis are the team's tackle masters, but their coverage, when on the field for pass plays, is shaky. Josey Jewell was an exceptional grab at 106th.
√ - Cornerback: Chris Harris is top five, and Bradley Roby was a quality nickel back, but he can't match Aqib Talib. And Tramaine Brock probably can't equal Roby as the third cornerback. Brendan Langley was a third-round bust, and the Broncos hope that Isaac Yiadom, picked in the third round, isn't.
! - Safety: The S&S Twins are solid. Justin Simmons is a playmaker, and Darian Stewart has still got game. Su'a Cravens could be a special acquisition, and Will Parks can be very good.
The Broncos must achieve more !'s and fewer √'s and ?'s between May and September.