(Photo Credit: USA Today via Reuters/Ron Chenoy)
The Denver Broncos have parted with veteran experience and opted to go younger at the running back position – at least for the moment.
C. J. Anderson, in his fifth season in 2017 recorded his first 1,000-yard campaign, and the aging Jamaal Charles are gone. What’s left is a group that’s full of potential and promise, but light on consistent work. Here’s a look at what the Broncos’ backfield depth chart could look like come Week 1:
With 253 carries and 911 rushing yards in two seasons, Booker is the old man of Denver’s current backfield. But, releasing Anderson—which was more of a money move—now means Booker will get his shot to be the team’s featured back.
After a strong rookie season in 2016 when he rushed for 612 yards while Anderson was hurt, Booker only saw double-digit carries in two games and managed one touchdown last season while Anderson was healthy. Booker also has 61 catches for his career, so he has that going for him.
The question is whether Booker can handle the workload and take pressure off Case Keenum? We know Booker’s confident even if his NFL career has yet to take off.
Oh, Booker should also have competition right out of the gate.
That competition will come in the form of the third-round pick from Oregon, who rushed for at least 1,300 yards in three of his four collegiate seasons and totaled 60 touchdowns on the ground. Also, Freeman recorded 79 receptions in those four years, so while Booker offers a decent amount of versatility, Freeman might be an even better all-around option for his 238-pound frame.
Freeman is almost 20 pounds heavier than Booker, meaning he might also be a better option to handle 20-plus carries per game and still be a factor come late November and into December. Don’t sleep on the fact that Freeman went to school all four years and was a dependable performer at a big-time program.
Even if Freeman does not open the season as Denver’s No. 1 running back, he should get ample time and it would not be a surprise to see him surpass Booker as the starter at some point in 2018.
At the moment, Henderson is among the Broncos’ top three backs, but there is no guarantee he will even make the team out of training camp. The Coastal Carolina product saw action in five games as a rookie for Denver last season, carrying the ball seven times for 13 yards and also caught two passes.
It wouldn’t be surprising for the Broncos to give Henderson a good look during the preseason to see if he is worth keeping, or even for a larger role should he make the team. Henderson could vie for a roster spot with this year’s seventh-round pick David Williams from Arkansas and hometown product Phillip Lindsay.
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