Former UK running back Stanley “Boom” Williams claimed by the Denver Broncos after being waived by the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. Though the Denver Broncos running back core has a stable of backs, Williams has a better chance at making the roster than first meets the eye. Here is a breakdown of each running back on the Broncos roster:
C.J. Anderson – Anderson is the safest bet to make the roster at running back for the Broncos, and should be the starter going into the season. He signed a 4-year, $18 million deal with the Miami Dolphins that was matched by the Denver Broncos last offseason. He went on injured reserve midway through the season, but he looks to be healthy and ready to assume the workload this season.
Jamaal Charles – Jamaal Charles was once one of the NFL’s best backs. Now he’s hanging onto the Broncos by a thread. Head coach Vance Joseph said that this Saturday’s game against the Packers will be his shot to make the team. If he thrives, he’s in. If not, it looks like he’ll be out the door. If Charles does not perform well, that gives Boom one less competitor to make the team.
Devontae Booker – Booker is the reason Boom is getting this opportunity with the Broncos. Injuries have plagued Booker since college and being the Broncos 4th round pick in 2016. Booker was expected to potentially be the running back of the future in Denver, but a fractured wrist has sidelined him since late July. He may make the roster, but with a new coaching staff that possibility seems as unlikely as ever before.
Juwan Thompson – Thompson is a sneaky player to the casual eye on making the roster. He was signed out of Duke as undrafted free agent by the team, was inactive on their Super Bowl winning team, and was signed to the practice squad only to be called up after Anderson’s injury last season. He seems to have the team’s trust, but hasn’t been able to stick on the 53-man roster. If the Broncos want a third-down back to compliment C.J. Anderson, Boom fits the bill much better than Thompson.
DeAngelo Henderson – Henderson is their sixth-round pick from this year’s draft. They obviously felt that Henderson better suited their team at running back than Williams, and Coach Joseph said he was not surprised about how well he played in the team’s first preseason game. He is likely Boom’s stiffest competition to make the team.
Stevan Ridley – Ridley had been out of football since midseason last year, and has struggled to find a spot in the league post-New England. He was only signed by the Broncos after Booker was injured, and they may very well have preferred Boom all along.
The competition in Denver is plentiful, yet very underwhelming. Ridley almost certainly won’t make the roster. Thompson has never stuck as a guy that the team has wanted to carry on the 53-man roster. Jamaal Charles is a complete wildcard, and Booker can’t seem to stay healthy. C.J. Anderson will almost certainly make the roster, while Henderson is a bowling ball type of runner. In today’s NFL teams need diversity in their backfield, and Boom Williams fits the scat-back, third-down mold much better than the other two.
I talked to Boom after Cincinnati’s preseason game against Kansas City, and I asked him if he was frustrated by the lack of playing time behind the team’s three-headed monster in the backfield. He said he wasn’t, and that it’s a competition, which is something he embraces. He’ll have plenty of competition in Denver, but his chance to standout and make the team is higher than it was in Cincinnati.