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John Elway Believes 2014 Draft Class Should’ve Played More Last Season

The Denver Broncos were a veteran-oriented team in 2014, but the franchise’s best-known executive wants the young players to get a chance this season.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway suggested Fox should’ve used the rookies—excluding cornerback Bradley Roby—more often. Per Legwold:

“Elway was adamant he believed some of the team’s rookies last season could have, and should have, played more. In the end, John Fox’s staff used Roby plenty, but the rest of the 2014 rookies were little more than spot players.

Of the 999 snaps played in the regular season by the team’s 2014 draft picks last season, Roby played 805 of them — or 80.6 percent.”

Roby, the team’s first-round pick, was a regular contributor on the league’s third-best defense. However, Denver depth kept its recent draftees on the sideline.

Although wide receiver Cody Latimer spent the 2014 season behind Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker on the depth chart, Thomas’ holdout and Welker’s departure has allowed Latimer to occupy the No. 2 receiver role this summer. He should make a larger impact next season, even as the third option for Peyton Manning.

Offensive linemen Michael Schofield and Matt Paradis never appeared in a game last season, but they’ve moved up the depth chart simply by staying on the roster. The Broncos did not re-sign Will Montgomery and traded Manny Ramirez to the Detroit Lions.

While linebackers Lamin Barrow and Corey Nelson were trapped behind a deep linebacking corps, each player should provide an impact on special teams this season. Late-round selections shouldn’t be expected to offer much more than that, though players like Barrow and Nelson need to find a role soon so they don’t get cut.

Denver has one of the league’s most veteran leaders in Manning, but if new head coach Gary Kubiak follows Elway’s recommendation, a few fresh faces will occupy the Broncos starting unit.

Photo: USA Today Sports