Broncos Football

Denver Broncos linebacker Malik Reed (59) takes part in drills at the team’s NFL football training facility June 4 in Englewood.

As decreed in the Orwellian novel, the 90 Broncos players who report to Dove Valley next week are all equal, but some are more equal than others.

For example, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are substantially more equal, valuable and mile high-ranking than outside linebackers Malik Reed, Ahmad Gooden and Aaron Wallace Jr.

Nobody except his immediate family and friends is talking up Reed, an undrafted rookie.

But it should be known that he was a member of the National Honor Society at Dothan (Alabama) High School, was twice selected all-Mountain West at Nevada with 38 starts at linebacker, 22 sacks and 11 forced fumbles, and caused two turnovers against Air Force last season. He also has good hygiene.

Reed was rated the 53rd-best outside linebacker in college football in 2018. The Broncos obviously liked him enough to invite him to join the team, and Reed would celebrate life if he were the 53rd player on the Broncos’ 53-man roster for the opening game.

Gooden, Wade Phillips would say, is a “good-un’’ even though he, too, was undrafted out of Stanford, uh, I meant Samford, where he was a defensive lineman. He also is from Alabama — Talladega, more noted for stock car racing and nights.

Perhaps one of these two will be become the latest find for the Broncos — if he can play special teams and beat out Wallace, who has been around for three seasons and is primarily recognized as the son of a former Raiders linebacker who tackled John Elway for eight seasons.

The Broncos signed the son off the Bengals’ practice squad last Dec. 28 and made him inactive for the final game.

They are unequal to MC Hammer, the Broncos’ two starting rush backers, who will attempt to combine for 30-100 sacks this season.

Ninety does not go into 63, which will be the number of players on the active roster and the practice squad.

People set to attend the Broncos’ first practice on July 18 are wondering: Who will make the team, which outside linebackers will be kept, who is the fifth safety, who is the starting tight end, who is the next Phillip Lindsay, who will be the backup center and who will return kickoffs and punts? All critical questions to Broncos backers, radioheads and a coaching staff of two dozen, including, especially, rookie head coach Vic “One Shade of Gray Warmups’’ Fangio.

Because I’ve covered 45 of these training things with the Broncos in Pomona, Calif., Fort Collins, Greeley and suburban Denver, I think I can help.

This is my last men standing list, with starters in capitals and practice squad players in italics.

I start with the tight end position because everyone seems to care so much about four who have been drafted from Big Ten schools, and not one has proven anything yet in the NFL. This spot is supposed to be incorporated into the offense after years of players missing from action.

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Tight ends: NOAH FANT, Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, Austin Fort.

Wide receivers: COURTLAND SUTTON, DAESEAN HAMILTON, Emmanuel Sanders (who won’t be healthy when season starts), Tim Patrick, Juwann Winfree, River Cracraft, Aaron Burbidge, Bug Howard.

Running backs: PHILLIP LINDSAY, Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, Khalfani Muhammad.


Quarterbacks: JOE FLACCO, Drew Lock, Brett Rypien.

Tackles: GARETT BOLLES, JA’WUAN JAMES, Jake Rodgers.

Guards: RON LEARY, DALTON RISNER, Elijah Wilkinson, Don Barkley (swing).

Centers: CONNOR MCGOVERN, Sam Jones (swing), Austin Schlottmann.

Defensive ends: ADAM GOTSIS, DEREK WOLFE, Zach Kerr, Billy Winn.

Nose tackles: SHELBY HARRIS, Dre’Mont Jones.

Outside linebackers: VON Miller, BRADLEY CHUBB, Justin Hollins, Jeff Holland, Aaron Wallace.

Inside linebackers: TODD DAVIS, JOSEY JEWELL, Dakoda Watson, Keishawn Bierria, Alexander Johnson, Joe Dineen Jr., Malik Reed.

Cornerbacks: CHRIS HARRIS JR., KAREEM JACKSON (also safety), BRYCE CALLAHAN (nickel back), Isaac Yiadon, De’Vante Bausby, Alijah Holder.

Safeties: JUSTIN SIMMONS, WILL PARKS, Su’a Cravens, Jamal Carter, Shamarko Thomas.



Long snapper: Casey Kreiter.

Of course, the Broncos will add and subtract throughout July and August. This is not a final final, all things being equal.

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