- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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A look at the Denver Broncos' roster and the Class of 2009 doesn't have as many players in the team's foundation as it should.
Those picks are now fifth-year players and should be several members of the core lineup -- poised to be signed for the long term with the team if things have gone the way it was hoped.
Just three draft picks -- running back Knowshon Moreno, defensive end Robert Ayers and safety David Bruton -- and two signed as free agents remain -- running back Lance Ball and punter Britton Colquitt.
Moreno is currently third on the depth chart at running back. Ayers is trying to make the most of his best to be an impact player in the defense after Elvis Dumervil's departure. Ball hopes he can do enough to carve out a roster spot. When the Broncos look to re-sign the players in that class, they have to go to special teams.
Earlier this offseason the Broncos signed Bruton, a safety/special teams ace, to a three-year, $5.5 million deal. Sunday the Broncos finished work on a three-year extension for Colquitt worth $11.7 million.
"Kind of surreal right now, hard to believe,'' Colquitt said. " ... I'm humbled and grateful ... I've already had a few of my friends and people text me 'my son's going to be a punter, I'm sending him to you when he's 15' or whatever. I always tell people special teams is the way to go.''
At least part of the depth issues the Broncos faced in the two previous seasons as well as in this training camp at times, can be traced to the significant hole left behind from both the 2009 and 2010 drafts.
The team selected 19 players combined in those two drafts, including four first-rounders. Ayers, Colquitt, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Zane Beadles are the only current starters from those two drafts -- center J.D. Walton, a 2010 pick, has also been a starter, but is currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Beadles, a second-round pick in 2010, is in the final year of his original deal and the Broncos will face a decision at the end of the season about his long-term value and future with the team.
Even Colquitt, now the highest-paid punter in the league at $3.9 million a year average on his deal, didn't stick at first in '09. He was cut at the end of training camp and was out of the league until the Dolphins signed him to the practice squad in December of that year.
Eight days after joining the Dolphins practice squad Colquitt was signed to the Broncos active roster to close out the '09 season and he has been with the Broncos since.
"It was very humbling not to make it (in camp) that year when I thought I could,'' Colquitt said.
In the end Colquitt and Bruton are good at what they do, and are needed pieces in a playoff team's puzzle. But the fact they are the two players to re-sign long-term from all who arrived in 2009 is also a sign that while the Broncos have made significant progress since 2010's 4-12 finish, the work isn't done.
4dEric D. Williams