The Denver Broncos are coming off of a 2018 campaign in which they won just six games, marking the first time they had endured back-to-back losing seasons since 1972, a truly incredible feat.
The Broncos have not made the playoffs since last winning the Super Bowl during the 2015-16 campaign, and going into 2019, Denver hardly resembles a playoff team.
But even if the Broncos aren’t going to be contending for any titles any time soon, there is some intrigue surrounding the club heading into this season, whether it’s how Joe Flacco will fare under center or how Vic Fangio will handle his new head-coaching gig.
For a team like Denver, training camp is critical, as that is when many jobs are won.
Here are the three Broncos players with the most to gain in training camp:
3. Tim Patrick
It may not matter how well Flacco plays if Denver’s receivers don’t develop, and Tim Patrick is part of that equation.
The 25-year-old Patrick is entering his second NFL season and is coming off of a 2018 campaign in which he caught 23 passes for 315 yards and a touchdown.
While the Broncos don’t exactly have a ton of options at wide receiver, Patrick is still going to need to assert himself in training camp in order to maintain his hold on the No. 3 receiver role and possibly even contend for the No. 2 spot.
He will likely be battling it out with sixth-round pick Juwann Winfree for the third slot, who totaled just 60 receptions over three collegiate seasons. So, the job seems like it’s Patrick’s to lose, but he hasn’t proven nearly enough to have the position on lock.
2. DaeSean Hamilton
While Patrick may have actually been a bit more productive during his rookie year, DaeSean Hamilton seems to be the favorite to win the No. 2 receiver role.
Hamilton, whom the Broncos drafted in the fourth round last year, logged 30 catches for 243 yards and a couple of scores in 2018, and while he wasn’t a monster at Penn State, he was solid.
He doesn’t have gamebreaking speed, but he is a very impressive route runner and has decent hands. Is he a top-flight prospect? No, but outside of Courtland Sutton, who is clearly the No. 1, Denver doesn’t really have many other options.
And while Hami;ton may be the favorite over Patrick, he needs to be careful, as a weak training camp from Hamilton coupled with a strong one from Parker could knock Hamilton down to the No. 3 receiver slot.
1. Royce Freeman
The Broncos expected Royce Freeman to power their rushing offense in 2018, but instead, it was undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay who did the heavy lifting, racking up 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
Now, all indications are that Denver still seems to favor Freeman, and the Broncos may even give Freeman more carries than Lindsay in 2019.
But, of course, Freeman needs to prove his worth in order to supplant Lindsay, who was absolutely brilliant this past year and had one of the best and most efficient seasons of any running back in the league.
Freeman, on the other hand, totaled a modest 521 yards and five scores while averaging just four yards per attempt, so he has some work to do this summer in order to really win over the Broncos coaching staff.