“He’s a bellcow type. First and second down… He’s a guy we needed. We needed a thumper.” Those are John Elway’s words on rookie RB Royce Freeman. Devontae Booker has had opportunity to show what he can do, and has shown his skills in the passing game. The run game wasn’t as good; Booker had 174 attempts his rookie season and averaged 3.5 yards per carry, albeit behind a sub-par offensive line. The offensive line improved some in 2017, but he still couldn’t get his game going on the ground, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. The numbers aren’t great, and the tape tells a story of bad decision making and questionable vision. It seems to me like Freeman has the upper hand in winning the gig at this point depending on the type of scheme they use. He excels in being a one-cut and run guy, so if the Broncos choose to run more of a zone blocking scheme, he should naturally fit in. However, OC Bill Musgrave does have a history of a power run scheme, so we’ll have to see how he’s dealing with that in camp.
When asked about Booker’s chances of being the guy, HC Vance Joseph said “he’s got to come out and earn the right to be the guy… it’s a wide open race… he’s a good football player, but we want more from him.” Not what you want to hear if you’re the most experienced RB on the team. The Broncos want to run the ball, and the offense will most definitely improve after a ridiculous QB carousel since Peyton Manning retired. Case Keenum along with playmakers at WR should allow this offense to take a step forward and provide the starting RB with scoring opportunities. Freeman can catch the ball as well, so we can see a few receptions from him here and there. 3rd and passing down work isn’t out of the question, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll take on that job at this point with Booker’s ability in the pass game. I would probably prefer Booker in a PPR league, and avoid Freeman at this point, as well as any other early-down-only back.
Freeman’s the type of back who can handle a 20+ carry workload, and with the Broncos being near the top of the league in rushing attempts, Freeman’s ceiling is being top-10 in rushing attempts by the end of 2018. Lets see how it plays out!