For the second time this offseason, an ESPN.com ranking of all 32 teams had the Denver Broncos at the No. 30 position — this time regarding its offensive backfield.
Only the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts ranked lower on the list than the Broncos, who saw the departure of C.J. Anderson this offseason and with Devontae Booker, the team’s likely Game 1 starter, averaging 3.60 yards per carry in 253 attempts.
But, as the article alludes to, the ranking doesn’t necessarily reflect the potential of Denver’s backfield, “Schlereth and Evans” host Mark Schlereth said Monday.
“You look at the Broncos, it’s all about potential,” Schlereth said. “I think what they’re saying here is exactly what we’ve said a bunch. I don’t believe in Booker. I don’t believe he’s the answer.
“Is Royce Freeman the answer? I think he could be. We’ll have to see exactly how he plays. But it’s all about the potential of this backfield.”
In any case, a running back from the group needs to “step up and become a great player for the Broncos to have the offensive success that they need,” Schlereth said, whether that’s Freeman, second-year pro De’Angelo Henderson, or someone else.
“… We’ve talked this a bunch with Case Keenum. You’ve got to prop him up,” Schlereth said. “He’s a good leader. He’s a good quarterback. But he’s got to have production at other positions, and they’re counting on Royce Freeman.”
Schlereth said he believes Freeman will get “every opportunity” to become the Broncos starting running back, and “if he’s got some wiggle and he’s got some ability” then he will be.
“Royce Freeman’s got an opportunity to do something special. You look at (Kareem) Hunt in Kansas City, you look (Alvin) Kamara last year with New Orleans … they came in and exploded on the scene,” Schlereth said. “Royce Freeman’s going to have that opportunity here.”
The Chiefs ranked ninth on the list and the Saints were the top-graded team.
“Hopefully, that ranking going into next year will move up to a top 10 ranking,” Schlereth said of the Broncos position on the list, “meaning Royce Freeman or De’Angelo Henderson has had a big year.”
Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.