Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway, General Manager Brian Xanders and Head Coach John Fox completed their first full season together in 2011, which culminated in an AFC West title and an AFC Wild Card victory in the playoffs. Much of that success can be traced back to last offseason, when the team added 19 newcomers that made the 2011 opening-week roster.
Two of those newcomers — RB Willis McGahee and LB Von Miller — made the Pro Bowl. That made Denver the only team in the NFL in 2011 to have a free agent acquisition and a rookie make the Pro Bowl roster.
Combined, all of Denver’s 19 new players appeared in 213 games this season and started 103 contests. Thirteen of them played in 14 or more games this year and five of them started 10 or more games.
The first group of new players joined the team as rookies: Miller (1st round, 15 GP, 15 GS), S Rahim Moore (2a, 15, 7), T Orlando Franklin (2b, 16, 16), LB Nate Irving (3, 16, 0), S Quinton Carter (4a, 16, 10), TE Julius Thomas (4b, 5, 1), LB Mike Mohamed (6, 2, 0), TE Virgil Green (7, 15, 3) and CB Chris Harris (undrafted, 16, 4).
Denver’s rookie class combined to play in 44.9 percent of the Broncos’ offensive and defensive plays this season, which ranked the group No. 2 in the league. The eight rookies that saw time on offense or defense averaged 14.3 games played, which was third best in the NFL for the 2011 season. The group ranked second in the league with an average of seven starts per player and a combined 3,898 plays.
The rookie class saw three players (Franklin, Harris and Miller) receive All-Rookie honors, and Miller tied the club’s rookie sack record while becoming the second rookie in Broncos history to earn Pro Bowl honors.
The club also added nine new players to the opening-day roster through free agency: McGahee (15 GP, 14 GS), TE Daniel Fells (16 GP, 15 GS), CB Jonathan Wilhite (15, 2), TE Dante Rosario (14, 3) DT Mitch Unrein (14,0), DE Derrick Harvey (5, 0), G Manny Ramirez (2, 0), T Tony Hills (0, 0), DT Ty Warren (0, 0, was placed on IR after Week 1) and one player via trade: Brodrick Bunkley (16, 13).
The free agency/trade class combined to play 97 games with 47 starts. Bunkley, Fells and McGahee became regular starters for the team, and McGahee made his second career pro bowl while turning in the first 1,000 yard season from a Broncos running back since RB Tatum Bell ran for 1,025 yards in 2006.
“I think [RB] Willis McGahee as a free agent acquisition ended up with 1,200 yards in the regular season,” Fox said. “I thought he was a good get. We went into the draft and said we had to find three starters, [T] Orlando [Franklin], obviously, [LB] Von Miller, [he is] probably going to receive Rookie of the Year on defense. [S] Quinton Carter stepped in and did a good job. I didn’t really know what to expect because I didn’t really know the team until there late in July, so I don’t know that it was a great surprise but I thought those guys were all acquisitions that I thought performed well.”
Tags: Offseason Additions