Breaking down the Broncos’ initial 53-player roster in 2022
ENGLEWOOD, Colorado— After one of the most exhilarating offseasons in franchise history, the Broncos have established their initial roster of 53 players.
“We had a lot of tough decisions,” general manager George Paton said Tuesday. “We’ve had more depth this year on our roster, so there’s been a lot of talking and a lot of collaboration with the coaching staff and scouts.”
It is important to note that just as quickly as the initial roster of 53 players is established, it may change. The initial 53-man roster and the Broncos’ roster for their Week 1 game in Seattle could have several differences. The Broncos are now eligible to submit waivers, place players on short-term injured reserve or execute additional trades. If there’s one thing that was clear last year, it’s that Paton will evaluate all available options to improve his squad composition.
Before any further moves, however, we’ll provide an update on where the Broncos are as they take their next step toward the regular season.
Read on for a position-by-position rundown of the Broncos’ initial roster.
Note: Players are listed by position group and ranked at author’s discretion.
Quarterback (2): Russell Wilson, Brett Rypien
The Broncos never had a question about their starting quarterback, but the battle for the backup spot continued in Game 3 of the preseason. Rypien put up another solid showing in his first start, and he’s apparently ready to serve as Wilson’s replacement. The Broncos released Johnson, but as an invested veteran he is not required to go through waivers.
“It was really tough,” Paton said. “Brett and Josh had a great competition that ended with the last game. The body of work, those two guys did a lot of really good things. I just think the way ‘Ryp’ handled the offense , the way he moved the team , he did some really good things I will let Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett talked about the rest, but it was very close competition. We also hope to get Josh back.”
Running back (3): Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon III, Mike Boone
There are no real surprises here, as Williams and Gordon are the team’s best options and Boone has posted a strong pre-season. Andrew Beck, listed with tight ends, will serve as the team’s fullback.
Wide receiver (6): Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Montrell Washington, Tyrie Cleveland, Jalen Virgil
For the 18th time in the last 19 years, an undrafted rookie made the Broncos’ initial 53-man roster, as Appalachian State product Jalen Virgil made the team over a youth crowd receivers.
“I think you need speed in this league,” Paton said. “Virgil obviously provides that. This guy, every game he’s made is playing. He’s made plays every practice. He can cover kicks. He’s an interesting guy. He can return kicks. Really good returner in college. . He’s got legit speed. He can get the upper hand. We’re thrilled for him.”
Kendall Hinton and Seth Williams weren’t on Denver’s roster after strong preseason performances, and Brandon Johnson was placed on IR.
Cleveland also secured a spot despite not playing in the preseason. Special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes said last week he would push for Cleveland’s inclusion on the roster, and Paton said Cleveland is “almost back” at full strength.
Tight end (4): Albert Okwuegbunam, Greg Dulcich, Andrew Beck, Eric Saubert
The Broncos parted ways with free agent addition Eric Tomlinson and rookie Dylan Parham as they kept four players in their tight room. Dulcich has not participated in training for several weeks, and he will be placed in short-term IR on Wednesday, according to Paton. The Broncos general manager expects Dulcich to be “100%” ready to play when he is eligible to return in Week 5. As an acquired veteran, Tomlinson is not subject to the waivers, and Paton said he would re-sign with the team.
Offensive line (9): Garett Bolles, Dalton Risner, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Quinn Meinerz, Billy Turner, Luke Wattenberg, Calvin Anderson, Graham Glasgow, Cam Fleming
The Broncos kept nine players on their offensive line, but they waived former sixth-round pick Netane Muti. The biggest challenge remaining for Denver is figuring out who will start at the right tackle for their Week 1 game in Seattle.
“I’m encouraged by Billy and the progress he’s made over the past two weeks,” Paton said. “…I think he has a good chance of being ready. I know he wants to play. That’s his goal. Otherwise, we feel good with our depth. I think Billy is on the right track. way.”