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Broncos keep Lynch but jettison several recent draft picks

September 2, 2018
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Denver Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly throws under pressure from Arizona Cardinals defensive end Alec James during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The former first-rounder survived cutdown day, making the Denver Broncos’ roster Saturday despite slipping to third on the depth chart this summer behind primary backup quarterback Chad Kelly, last year’s “Mr. Irrelevant.”

“With Chad not having a lot of experience and not having played in a regular season game before, we thought we had to go with three quarterbacks,” Elway said.

So, Lynch, who lost out to Trevor Siemian for the starting job each of the last two summers, is officially a developmental QB.

As such, he will have to improve on his own while running the scout team and facing Denver’s defense, Elway said, while starting quarterback Case Keenum prepares for games.

Lynch’s roster spot might not be safe for the season, however.

Elway said he had reached out to several available seasoned quarterbacks “but the veteran quarterbacks didn’t want to come in right now,” preferring to wait for better opportunities for playing time.

Kelly, who spent his rookie season last year on IR, leapfrogged Lynch last month, becoming the second seventh-rounder to beat out the former Memphis star whom Elway moved up to draft 26th overall in 2016.

Elway did take a sledgehammer to his 2017 draft class, as he discharged running back De’Angelo Henderson , receiver Carlos Henderson, cornerback Brendan Langley and punt returner Isaiah McKenzie in reaching the NFL’s 53-man limit.

The Broncos kept 10 rookies, including eight members of their much-ballyhooed 2018 draft class, plus undrafted running back Phillip Lindsay and linebacker A.J. Johnson, the former Tennessee star who missed 3 1-2 years of football while fighting a rape case. He was acquitted in June.

Elway isn’t fretting the infusion of youth.

“I get excited” about rookies, Elway said. “I don’t get nervous about it.”

Among the rookies expected to make immediate impacts are Lindsay, Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and Josey Jewell.

“I’m excited about the ’18 class,” Elway said. “The ’17 class, I’m not giving up on that, either. Obviously, we had to let a few of them go today.”

Some of the 2017 draftees’ departures were anticipated after Elway shifted his philosophy this year and drafted experience and leadership — all 10 of his picks spent four years in major college programs and were captains — instead of selecting athletic, raw prospects like the ones who dominated the 2017 class.

“Picking high in each rounds helps,” said Elway, who selected fifth after a dismal 5-11 season. “I really hope that we’re not picking nearly that high again next year.”

Carlos Henderson, a third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2017, never played in a game for Denver. He spent last year on injured reserve and didn’t show up for training camp this year, citing personal reasons.

Like much of last year’s draft class, Langley was a project who played just one year of college ball at his position — and he went down in classification to do it — transferring from Georgia to Lamar.

McKenzie fumbled six times as a rookie but enjoyed coach Vance Joseph’s staunch support until his fumble as a receiver last month cost the Broncos a chance at a last-minute field goal to beat the Bears.

Last week, the Broncos signed veteran Adam Jones , making both McKenzie and Langley expendable.

The Broncos placed rookie tight end Troy Fumagalli (groin) on IR and receiver Jordan Taylor, still recovering from double hip surgery, was placed on the PUP list.

The only 2018 draftee who didn’t make the cut was Arkansas running back David Williams.

Other notable cuts included:

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