The Broncos have quite the collection of talent on the roster. Some is new, added via free agency or the draft. Some has been around for a few years developing on the roster. Some isn’t going to be with the team much longer.
In order to get things back on the winning track, the Broncos must have players break out with strong performances and career seasons. That’s exactly the potential they have in their underrated players.
These are players who might have been starting, but have yet to reach their full potential. These are players who have been banged up and have not yet had a chance to shine at the pro level.
These players are the key to a bounce-back season for the Broncos.
Who are the five most underrated players for the Broncos? Let’s take a look.
We didn’t get to see what tight end Troy Fumagalli could do last year as a rookie. A sports hernia injury ended his season in training camp last year and we only got to see him practice for a week or so.
Now healthy, Fumagalli is showing off what we missed last year.
He was known as a great receiving tight end at Wisconsin and those “vacuum hands” are still on display today. In fact, Fumagalli was already making several tough catches from quarterback Joe Flacco in OTAs and mandatory minicamp. We know tight end is going to be a big part of the Broncos offense in 2019, but Fumagalli could be a reserve player who pushes for a starting job and shines anytime he gets onto the field this season.
Even though he’s entering his fourth year in the league, I don’t think we’ve yet seen the best from safety Will Parks. Last year was a “tale of two seasons” for Parks, as he struggled mightily in the first half of the year then all of a sudden was making big plays anytime he was on the field.
Whatever clicked for Parks can continue this season.
He is athletic and can get to the ball in a hurry. When comfortable, Parks does a good job of understanding his responsibility and diagnoses plays quickly. In fact, Parks even baits quarterbacks into making throws at times. This season, he is behind Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons on the depth chart, but he’s a valuable reserve player who may have his best football ahead of him.
All the attention at the wide receiver position is on second-year pro Courtland Sutton, and for good reason. But do not forget about fellow sophomore DaeSean Hamilton.
Last year, Hamilton didn’t get much of an opportunity to showcase his talent. When he did, he did not quite look like the player he did in college at Penn State.
Those skills from college seem to be shining through this offseason.
Hamilton is a precise route-runner and can get open with guile and nuance. He’s not the quickest or the fastest receiver out there, but he creates separation by not giving away where he’s going in the route. Hamilton has sure hands and does a good job squaring to the line of scrimmage to create the biggest possible target for his quarterback. He’s No. 3 on the dpeth chart behind Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders this year, but Hamilton may push for a higher position in the pecking order and showcase the skills that could make him a fine No. 2 receiver in the NFL someday.
It’s hard to think that a veteran who has been captain of the Broncos defense is underrated, but I think that’s the case with Davis. He’s taken his hard-hitting ability to the next level. Davis was already a sure tackler, but there were times earlier in his career when he would guess and attack rather than scrape and flow to the play.
Those days of guessing seem to be over for Davis.
He plays with a high football intelligence and can find the ball-carrier quickly. Davis now does a good job of avoiding larger offensive linemen tasked with blocking him and he is playing with greater timing as a defender. The Broncos did not select an inside linebacker in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft. In fact, with all apologies to what I think is an edger player in Justin Hollins (the Broncos are trying him at inside linebacker), the Broncos didn’t take an inside linebacker at all in the draft. That’s a great sign for what they think of Davis and what growth as a player he still has left.
In 2018, the backfield was led by Phillip Lindsay, the breakout UDFA from the University of Colorado, but one could logically assume the plan was for third-round pick Royce Freeman to be the top back. That didn’t happen as Freeman began the season as the starter, got banged up and lost his top spot on the depth chart to Lindsay.
This season, Freeman is back to push for the starting job.
Yes, the Broncos are likely to use a RBBC (running-back-by-committee) featuring both Lindsay and Freeman, but that doesn’t mean Freeman is just going to be okay playing “1B” to Lindsay’s “1A.” The competition is going to be a healthy one when Lindsay is healthy himself.
A wrist injury has kept Lindsay out of OTAs and minicamp this offseason but he should be ready to go by training camp. Freeman looks more comfortable this offseason, plus he’s showing better burst, vision and footwork. With a blocking scheme more suited to Freeman’s ability, I think the second-year back is going to look much different – much improved – to Broncos fans who go out to UC Health Training Center for training camp.