COMMENTARY | Seven draft picks made … 15 college free agents signed … and one headline-worthy veteran free-agent added from a division rival -- it's been quite the extended weekend for your Denver Broncos.
Wading through all the hype, hoopla and rags-to-riches tales, let's cut to the chase, as in which of the newest additions will have the greatest impact on the Orange and Blue's 2013 season? That's the most pressing question here with the Broncos on the short, short list of Super Bowl XLVIII favorites.
Setting aside the longshot college free agents for the moment, we'll rank the rest of the new additions, starting with who has the best shot to be the most impactful this season and going on down through the rest. The scale ranges from 0 (zero impact) to 5 (every-game impact).
RB Montee Ball (second-round draft pick)
Concerned enough about a running-back rotation that has age (Willis McGahee) durability (Knowshon Moreno) and inexperience (Ronnie Hillman) issues, the Broncos used their second pick to make Wisconsin's Ball the third back selected in the draft.
Ball is a no-nonsense, north-south runner who scored an NCAA-record 83 touchdowns with the Badgers and now has a strong chance to become an immediate NFL starter, with perhaps Hillman seeing the bulk of the third-down work. Projected impact: 5
LB/DE Shaun Phillips (free-agent signee)
Phillips, who spent his 9-year NFL career with San Diego, becomes the second Charger to sign with the Broncos this offseason, joining guard Louis Vasquez.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Phillips compares favorably in size to the departed Elvis Dumervil (5-11, 260) and also possesses similar career numbers (69.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles for Phillips; 63 sacks, 16 forced fumbles for Dumervil), although the ex-Bolt has played three more seasons.
Now while Phillips isn't quite the pure pass rusher Dumervil is, he can bring the rush and play the run and projects to at least line up opposite Von Miller on passing downs. Projected impact: 4
DT Sylvester Williams (first-round draft pick)
Stout enough (6-3, 313) to play the run and quick enough to get after the passer (8.5 sacks, 11 pressures in two seasons at North Carolina), Williams was a good find for the 28th pick in the first round.
While he might not be an immediate starter, Williams will figure prominently in the Broncos' defensive-tackle rotation alongside Terrance Knighton, Kevin Vickerson and Mitch Unrein. Projected impact: 4
WR Tavarres King (fifth-round draft pick)
With the Broncos' No. 4 wide-receiver position up for grabs after Andre Caldwell and Matthew Willis (a combined 11 receptions for 108 yards) failed to grab hold of much of anything last season, King -- Georgia's leading receiver the past two seasons -- could step in and fill the bill. Projected impact: 3
DE Quanterus Smith (fifth-round draft pick)
The Western Kentucky standout/Sun Belt Conference's career sacks leader, who had a trio against the mighty Alabama offensive line in a game last September, missed the season's final two contests with an ACL tear and is attempting to be at or near full health by the start of training camp. If so, the raw but brimming-with-potential Smith could see snaps as a situational pass rusher. Projected impact: 2
CB Kayvon Webster (third-round draft pick)
Of the Broncos' first five draft picks, this South Florida product and Scouting Combine stud (4.34 40-yards dash, 35-inch vertical leap) was drafted more with the long-term future in mind with Champ Bailey (turns 35 this offseason) and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie (playing on 1-year deal) set to start and Chris Harris seemingly ensconced as the nickel back. Projected impact: 2
OT Vinston Painter (sixth-round draft pick)
This Virginia Tech standout possesses size (6-6, 309) and athleticism, but Painter will be in a battle to win a backup tackle job and, if not, is a prime practice-squad candidate. Projected impact: 0
QB Zac Dysert (seventh-round pick)
A four-year starter at Miami-Ohio, Dysert has a job waiting as the Broncos' No. 3 quarterback, and if he comes anywhere close to taking any kind of meaningful snap his rookie season, it means an injury disaster has struck. Projected impact: 0
Ken Pomponio has spent the past 25 years as a sports journalist who has been published extensively in print and online. He's been an avid follower of the Denver Broncos and the NFL since early childhood, and can be found on Twitter @kenpomp.
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