Running Back — Montee Ball (22); Ronnie Hillman (21); Knowshon Moreno (25)
Even after cutting veteran Willis McGahee, the Broncos have one of the most talented young backfields in the NFL today. The expectation is that rookie Montee Ball–the team’s second round draft choice–is set to take over duty as the number one tailback in Denver.
Ball is an interesting player who doesn’t provide a lot of home run potential, but he will consistently move the chains and punch the ball in near the goal line. He is also an exceptional receiver out of the backfield, and the Broncos are really excited about what he brings to the table for this offense. He is a smart player with an excellent chance to break out this season, and I think he could be worth a second round flyer in some leagues. If you are bold enough, take a long look at Montee Ball in the second round of your draft. If you are in a dynasty league, he is a top selection.
Ronnie Hillman is a second year player who struggled last year as a rookie to pick up on pass protection, but he showed off some of his quickness and explosion toward the end of last season. The Broncos felt like he was a bit too unreliable in pass pro to give him significant action with a number one seed on the line, but the belief is that he has made great strides in year two and can give the Broncos a “lightning” element to their offense. He should see plenty of opportunities with the Broncos’ open RB competition, even though Montee Ball is the odds-on favorite to win the job.
Knowshon Moreno is entering a contract year with the Broncos, and even though he’s only 25 years of age he has seen just about everything in the NFL. He was handed the starting RB position with the Broncos when he was drafted in 2009, and as bad as the OL play was over the first two years of the Josh McDaniels era, I’d say Moreno did relatively well.
Still, he never really developed into the type of player that the Broncos hoped he would when they picked him 12th overall in 2009. Despite his short-comings as an NFL player, Moreno was really the Broncos’ best all-around runner last year. He was in the doghouse for half the season, but busted out at the end of the year with a couple of 100 yard games and four touchdowns on the ground. Moreno is probably the Broncos’ best receiver at running back, and is undoubtedly their best/most proven pass protector. He isn’t assured a roster spot, but I think he will make the team and have a significant impact this year. Keep him in mind as a late round option or priority free agent type of pickup if you need someone.