Are the Denver Broncos posturing for Saquon Barkley?

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley /

Does the Denver Broncos’ recent release of C.J. Anderson mean they are posturing for Penn State star Saquon Barkley? We explore…

The Denver Broncos released their leading rusher from this past season, C.J. Anderson, freeing up some cap space and causing some interesting rumblings at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Does this mean the Broncos will now be all-in on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley?

The Broncos have just two running backs on their roster, currently. Those players are 2016 fourth round pick Devontae Booker and 2017 sixth round pick De’Angelo Henderson.

Booker was the team’s leading rusher as a rookie in 2016, but has struggled to be the player everyone thought he might be coming out of Utah that year. After starting last season injured, he came on at the end of the season and showed some of his all-around ability.

Henderson was dominant in last year’s preseason and has the look of a stud running back in the NFL, but the Broncos didn’t get him enough regular season action and are mostly projecting what he could be at this point.

Though the Broncos are high on those backs internally, carrying just two backs into the NFL Draft is pretty rare for an NFL club. The running game in Denver has really been lacking over the past few years, though Anderson had done his part to give it a spark when they needed it the most.

Not only do the Broncos need someone who can carry the rock 20 times a game, they need someone to now replace what Anderson brought to the table as a pass protector and leader on the team.

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Barkley could very well be in the mix there.

As a matter of fact, some close to the Broncos feel like they would take him if he were still on the board with the fifth overall pick next Thursday.

It would certainly be tough for John Elway to pass on that kind of talent, even with Booker and Henderson in the fold.

This could also be some very convenient timing for the Broncos.

Anderson’s release has caused a bit of a stir just over a week before the Draft. Are they trying to send a message to other teams in the top 10 that they will take Barkley at five?

It could be the Broncos’ way of ensuring teams don’t try to posture around them in the top five to take all of the top quarterbacks off the board, instead providing another threat to take Barkley and forcing a team like the Giants or Browns to take him at pick two or four, so that one less quarterback goes off the board in front of Denver.

One way or another, Barkley is going to be an instant impact player in the NFL, and there’s now an opening for the Broncos’ top running back job.