Projecting the Broncos’ Roster: One to 53

Rafael Bush

Rafael Bush is one of the surprising names Andrew Mason had on his projected 53-man Broncos roster.

Anyone can predict the roster after the last preseason game. Start with penciling in the guys who don’t play and go from there.

Selecting it in July, before the first whistle of training camp? There’s a challenge. Making it more difficult are the potential for injuries — one of which changed the original version I offered on Mile High Sports Radio on Tuesday night, when I had Eric Page making the 53-man roster as a punt returner. Page tore his anterior cruciate ligament and was released Wednesday, along with cornerback Coryell Judie.

So that changes things a bit from the original radio broadcast, which you can listen to here in six files shown below. To get to the bulk of the roster discussion, listen to segments Four through Six; if you want to listen to our discussion of the pronunciation of “praline,” references to The Karate Kid (original version) and a brief breakdown of quarterbacks, listen to the first three parts. The quarterback discussion is in Segment Three.

With the knowledge of Page’s fate — which alters the 53-man and practice-squad projections — as well as the ineligibility of linebacker D.J. Williams and tight end Virgil Green for the final LIII, here’s the final 53-man prediction, plus a practice-squad projection:

  • QUARTERBACKS (3): Peyton Manning, Caleb Hanie, Brock Osweiler (R).
  • RUNNING BACKS (3): Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman (R), Lance Ball*.
  • FULLBACK (1): Chris Gronkowski.
  • TIGHT ENDS (3): Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Julius Thomas.
  • WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Stokley, Andre Caldwell, Mark Dell, Gerell Robinson (R).
  • OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Ryan Clady, Chris Kuper, J.D. Walton, Zane Beadles, Orlando Franklin, Ryan Harris, Manuel Ramirez, Philip Blake (R), Chris Clark.
  • DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, Justin Bannan, Ty Warren, Jason Hunter, Kevin Vickerson, Malik Jackson (R), Derek Wolfe (R), Sealver Siliga.
  • LINEBACKERS (6): Von Miller, Joe Mays, Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving, Danny Trevathan (R), Steven Johnson (R).
  • DEFENSIVE BACKS (10): Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, Mike Adams, Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter, Drayton Florence, Chris Harris, Rafael Bush, Syd’Quan Thompson, Omar Bolden (R).
  • SPECIAL TEAMS (3): Lonie Paxton, Matt Prater, Britton Colquitt.
  • PRACTICE SQUAD (8): QB Adam Weber, RB Mario Fannin, TE Anthony Miller, WR D’Andre Goodwin, OL Wayne Tribue, DL Ben Garland, LB Mike Mohamed, S Duke Ihenacho.
Knowshon Moreno

Knowshon Moreno: ... easily one of the most fascinating players to watch at training camp.

* Why the asterisk on Ball? Because Knowshon Moreno isn’t here. Clearly he’s one of the 53 best players in training camp. And if anything happens to McGahee or Ronnie Hillman, Moreno will not only make the roster, but play extensively and be an integral part of the running back rotation. But if the Broncos keep three runners — and their complement stays healthy — then it might be tough for Moreno to claim a spot when Ball has proven that he fits the jack-of-all-trades job description of a third-string running back, just like Nick Goings did for John Fox in Carolina from 2002-08 after playing one season under George Seifert there. If the Broncos keep four running backs, Moreno’s a lock. If McGahee or Hillman are injured, Moreno’s a lock. But assuming full health at the position, he’s anything but.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on when the site was managed by He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began in 2010 and now contributes to, The Sporting News and The New York Times.
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7 Responses

  1. Can’t argue at all with your picks…would love to see us keep 6 WR’s. Though I’m really hoping Fannin somehow makes it as well.

    Too bad it’s unlikely Garland makes the cut.

    But who do you see as punt returner? Thompson?

  2. I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  3. Curious on your thoughts on Knowshon Moreno does he just get cut, does he get traded?

  4. Always appreciate the work, Andrew. Been enjoying your stuff since the days.

    Curious why you have them keeping 6 WR when the Manning offense is generally 122? I don’t see them keeping 6 unless Robinson or Dell can contribute big on ST. And what about Matt Willis?? Seems like he could break out this season with his speed and a legit QB.

    I also think that with the lack of experience we have at safety, David Bruton makes a lot more sense in the secondary than Bush. Bruton’s a beast on ST, and with WW taking a ton more snaps on D, we’ll need those ST leaders.

    Finally, I don’t see Ramirez making the team if Blake comes on during camp.

    Can’t wait to see it unfold and look forward to your coverage as always.

  5. I think Moreno makes this team regardless and that Bruton makes the squad over Bush. Moreno is a better fit than Ball to run the zone stretch play, is a fantastic receiver on wheel routes, screens, and short throws. Moreno has a career average of close to ten yards per reception. He also does a solid job in blitz pick up.

    Moreno fits a Peyton-Manning led offense very well, and he is also a much better runner than given credit for. Last season he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Having a passer like Manning will loosen up the running lanes for Moreno and will help him thrive as a receiver.

  6. If we didn’t have Hillman, I’d completely agree about Moreno sticking around.

    But Hillman will be the 3rd down back,and barring injury/the Broncos keeping 4 RB’s, I think Moreno’s time is pretty much over.

  7. Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!

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