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NFL Draft

Javonte Williams or Melvin Gordon: Who Will Be Broncos’ Starting RB?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 16, 2021
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Less than a month away from their Week 1 matchup against the New York Giants, fans in Denver Broncos nation have been busy discussing the team’s quarterback situation. There’s another question mark looming on offense that isn’t capturing national headlines yet but may be in the near future: Who will the Broncos start at the running back position?

Melvin Gordon is the team’s presumed starter but sat out Denver’s first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings with a groin injury. Head coach Vic Fangio claims the injury isn’t serious, but we all know how nagging groin injuries can be, especially for a running back with a fair amount of tread on his tires.

Gordon is entering a contract year and the Broncos used a second-round pick on Javonte Williams, an impressive dual-threat back from The University of North Carolina. The writing is already on the wall. With Gordon on the sidelines against the Vikings, Williams took full advantage of his opportunity. Although he carried the ball just five times, Williams ran for an exciting 29 yards, including an impressive 13-yard gain. Williams was on the field for just 10 plays during the team’s 33-6 win over the Vikings, but that’s more an indication of how highly Fangio and staff already think of their rookie playmaker. They are not going to risk injury to their future back.

Williams’ NFL debut was short but showed flashes of the player we saw terrorizing collegiate defenses en route to 1,445 total yards from scrimmage last season. Against the Vikings, Williams ran the ball with the same vision, footwork, and explosiveness we so often saw from him at North Carolina.

If Gordon’s injury makes him questionable for Week 1, there’s little doubt that Williams is the best ball-carrier on the roster. Other backs on the depth chart include Royce Freeman, Mike Boone (who also missed the game due to injury), Damarea Crockett, and LeVante Bellamy. That’s not exactly a star-studded group.

While we’re sure Fangio would love to have Gordon and his experience on the field in a few weeks’ time, the NFL has always had a “next man up” mentality. The more time Gordon spends on the mend, the more likely we are to see Williams play himself into the starting role.

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