With training camp right around the corner, a couple draft picks remain unsigned, arguably the more important of all draft picks. QB Brock Osweiler and RB Ronnie Hillman still so this day could not participate in training camp if it were to start today. Given the new rules of the CBA and the structure of the rookie contracts, they should be in fairly quick.
But what if they do take a holdout (which the CBA was supposed to prevent rookies from doing) into training camp.
In the past, missing camp in any fashion as a rookie has proved to be detrimental to the development for a rookie coming into the league. For example, Demaryius Thomas was the most recent, but due to injury he missed out on his rookie training camp, and we saw how it took him almost the entire season to build, learn and be at a level to be competitive in the NFL. Should he had been able to practice all the way through, his rookie season may have been different.
Currently, Osweiler and Hillman both are in danger of missing time, and they are key players into the development of this new Bronco squad and the teams advancement from the wildcard round of the playoffs to possible Super Bowl birth.
First off Osweiler. Players are saying that QB Peyton Manning is looking more and more like the Manning of old, but insurance is always nice to have. Manning may look good in helmet and short, but what about when he sees his first real action in over a year. If he goes down, the other backups Calib Hanie and Adam Weber. Hanie played in mop up duty behind Cutler and did get a chance to play in several games while Cutler was out due to injury. He didn’t do much to justify that he is a solid number 2 option. Adam Weber was a practice squad player/emergency QB last season. Osweiler being hailed as the heir apparent to Manning, every minute for him to be around Peyton is priceless. There isn’t a word to describe how important that it is he gets into camp.
Second is Hillman. There may be a logjam at RB, a position that includes 1,199 yards on the ground and team high in yards, Willis McGehee. There is also Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball, Jeremiah Johnson, Mario Fannin and Xavier Omon. I the Broncos to carry three backs on gameday and one of the these guys will be on the practice squad. Look for Hillman, McGehee and Johnson to be your active backs on Sundays. But given the change of offense for the Broncos, of all the backs that fit the new offense with Manning making full use of the RB, Hillman fits the bill. Coming out of San Diego St., his size and big play ability, some analysts compare him to Marshall Faulk. That says a lot about his ability, and having him in learning the offense, the pace at which Manning likes to play, and to learn plays away from the ball, such as picking up blitzes and reading coverages is important. Not to mention that he is counted on to be the “Flavor of the Month” for the Broncos once McGehee hits the wall with his age.
Yes, there is time for these kids to get in, but the Broncos just need to be prepared. For one reason or another, they need to be able to cover their bases in at every level of the roster, from Manning all the way down to the 53rd man on the roster.