Position: QB, Players: Brock Osweiler
This might not be much of a position battle, but the backup quarterback is the most tantalizing one in sports. Even more so in Denver; after spending a high pick on this guy a couple years ago now, John Elway is hoping to see some real progression out of his young signal caller. 'Oz' has likely solidified his spot as Manning's backup this season, but people in Denver are very interested in seeing Osweiler in a game type situation. His impressive measurables don't necessarily mean much if his on field production fails to impress. In a league that always has one eye on the future, watch Osweiler closely this preseason.
After Montee Ball, the running back position is a free-for-all. Preseason will be crucial for these backs as they attempt to seperate themselves from the pack. Hillman and Anderson seem like the second and third options, respectively right now. Hillman has had a rough go of it in Denver. Ball security issues and a real lack of confidence have contributed to a poor career thus far. Last offseason there was hope because of his added weight, while this offseason he is earning praise again. At 22 years old, he may finally be turning a corner, but wait until he produces in a live game to jump to any conclusions. After showing promise in preseason last year, Anderson failed to make an impact during the regular season. He's a decently shifty back with some pop to his power running game.
The other guys on this list went undrafted out of college. Thompson seems to have the inside track as of right now, but game situations is where running backs shine. Bibbs, Clay, and Williams all have a shot to stick on the team. Without a traditional fullback, it is likely the Broncos take 4 running backs, so one of these four will likely make the final 53.
If the Broncos choose to go with 6 receivers this year, one of these guys will make the team. A veteran who has yet to stick anywhere, Norwood has been a camp stand-out. He's a littler guy similar to Emmanuel Sanders who can play the slot and return kicks as well. Isaiah Burse is a rookie out of Fresno State who has great speed and also possesses the ability to return punts and kickoffs. These two have a much greater chance to make the final roster because the Broncos currently lack a returner.
A receiver from Fordham, Greg Wilson was signed to the practice squad last year right before the Super Bowl. At 6', 185 lbs, he will have to show some nice route running skills to overcome a lack of size or speed that most receivers on the outside have. Bennie Fowler measures at 6'1, 217 lbs but also ran a 4.38 40 yard dash at the combine. Those numbers look good, but he'll have to put it all together in a game situation to impress the staff.
Position: DT, Players: Marvin Austin, Mitch Unrein, Kevin Vickerson
Back in his North Carolina days, Austin was an elite NFL draft prospect while playing next to recent breakout player Richard Quinn. The two were dismissed from UNC for violations and only one of them has found any real success in the NFL. After a string of injuries (11 games in two years), Austin has really failed to find consistency. On a prove it deal, he is really impressing in camp and has been running with the starters with Vickerson still battling a hip ailment.
A quietly productive player the past couple season has been Mitch Unrein, a guy who has a motor that Del Rio loves. Not overly dominant, Unrein is effective as a rotational defensive tackle but has a low ceiling at this point. The only thing going for Unrein is his familiarity with the terminology and staff. Austin's potential may be too tantalizing for the Broncos to let go of. A healthy Kevin Vickerson is the best player of these three, but he struggled with injuries. He could be a surprise cut on a very deep defensive line.
Position: CB, Players: Kayvon Webster, Bradley Roby, Tony Carter, Omar Bolden, Louis Young
Webster and Roby will make this team, no doubt. Carter very likely will. A guy who really impressed the first two days of camp was Louis Young, who was physically dominating receivers and had a couple interceptions (albeit in practice).
After Talib and Harris Jr., there remains a battle for the nickel corner. The Broncos line up in the nickel about 66% of the time, so this position is more critical than you might think. The third cornerback may be asked to line up in the slot, or move outside and let Harris Jr. take the inside. Either way, Webster and Roby have been battling it out in camp. Manning has picked on Roby quite a bit and the youngster had a very rough camp to begin. He's showing improvements, but maybe not enough to earn the job over Webster. Last year's third round pick has looked much more fluid this offseason. He's in position and even picked off Manning in consecutive days of camp, one during a stadium practice for the fans to see. With better tackling skills, Webster has the inside track here.
Tony Carter is a veteran now and his familiarity with the defense will likely allow him to keep his job. However, Louis Young's emergence could force the Broncos to either part ways with Carter or keep a sixth corner. While right now that scenario still seems unlikely, these preseason games will give Young the pedestal he needs to shine outside of a practice setting and nab a roster spot. Omar Bolden has had a good camp as well, but after a couple seasons in Denver hasn't shown much on the field. If the Broncos do keep six corners, the last spot will come down to him and Young.
Position: FS, Players: Duke Ihenacho, John Boyett
After a breakout season, Ihenacho quietly fell out of favor as the season progressed. A hard hitter, he didn't play very consistently. A quality backup, he should make the team, but his job may not be as secure as some think. A similar player in the form of John Boyett has been noticed at camp for having a loud presence. Bringing an intense attitude, this former Oregon Duck didn't play his senior year of college because of an injury, yet was still picked in the sixth round by Indianapolis last season. After being waived, he finds himself in Denver with an uphill battle to make the roster, but has certainly made a name for himself by being vocal and stirring up beneficial 'trouble' on the field with his trash talk.