The Broncos' running back room has some new faces in it this offseason, with the additions of rookie Javonte Williams and free agent Mike Boone.
But still leading the way — at least for now — as he enters his seventh season in the NFL is Melvin Gordon. The Broncos' leading rusher last season has one more year left on his contract and has been Denver's No. 1 back throughout minicamp.
And while Williams and Boone were brought in to compete with Gordon and possibly be his replacement after 2021, he knows it's going to take all of them — including returning backups Royce Freeman and LeVante Bellamy — if Denver wants to get back to its winning ways.
"At some point in time, we’re going to need (Williams), we’re going to need Royce and we’re going to need Boone," Gordon said Tuesday. "It’s a tough game and we have an extra game this year. We have to do what we have to do.”
Many inside the organization are especially high on Williams, which is why they moved up to draft him in the second round. The North Carolina product was considered one of the top running backs in the draft after rushing for 2,297 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons in college.
So far in organized team activities and mandatory minicamp, Williams looks as advertised and has rotated in with the first team.
"He's an explosive runner," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "He did a really nice job in the passing game, in regards to protection. He's displayed the ability to catch the ball, which are all things we've seen in him in training. You never really know how a guy learns until you work with them, but having worked with him now, he's a quick learner. He's got great instincts and it shows up on the field."
Maybe the surprise of the group has been Boone, who spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Vikings before signing with the Broncos. Boone rarely played in Minnesota, totaling 379 yards and four touchdowns.
He was brought to Denver to be a backup and play special teams, but has looked good this offseason as a player who can be assigned different roles.
"He's a great guy, a great teammate, works hard, obviously (General Manager) George (Paton) knew him well from Minnesota and he's not disappointed in any way," coach Vic Fangio said. "I'm really happy we have him. I think he's a very capable running back. We think he'll make some strong contributions to special teams and we're really happy to have him. He's solid."
The Broncos will likely only take three running backs for the original 53-man roster — last year it was Gordon, Freeman and Phillip Lindsay — meaning Freeman and Bellamy will have to likely beat out Boone or Williams to make the team.
Assuming the two newcomers join Gordon in the Broncos' backfield, Gordon believes the unit's ceiling could be high.
“I think they are some good players," Gordon said of Williams and Boone. "We’re competing, but it’s early, and we still have a lot of work to do. I think both of them have really good feet and good hands. I think they’re going to be — we could all be special.
"You can tell Boone has been in the league for a while, and you can tell that Javonte has potential. We’re going to grow as a group, and we’re looking to be the best running back group in the league."