Running back Knowshon Moreno
The first overall pick of the John McDaniel era may not have been such a dud after all.
Their was a time when people were thinking that Tim Tebow—one of McDaniels' first round picks—was going to have the better NFL career than his fellow SEC alum.
Moreno's atrocious play through the first four years of his career—he has never rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season and was benched for eight games last season—did little to discourage pessimists about him.
Montee Ball was considered by many people to be the clear favorite for the starting job this year, but Moreno's confidence in pass-protection and ease in catching out of the backfield have provided him with the platform he needs to become a solid running back in the league.
With an immobile and fragile quarterback to protect, Ball and Hillman proved to be too big of liabilities to have in as every down backs. Moreno has exploited the opportunity beautifully, transforming into a complete back that is slowly justifying the high draft pick spent on him.
After beginning training camp third on the depth chart, he's now tied with Wes Welker at nine for second in the league in touchdowns.
As the weather turns cold and the physical strain on Manning becomes more serious, the Broncos will need to maximize Moreno's ability. He will need to repeat performances like the one he turned in against the Cowboys, where he posted 93 rushing yards and 57 yards receiving with one touchdown. He fumbled in that game, but it remains his only turnover of the year.
Moreno will be vital in Week 13, when the Broncos travel to Arrowhead on what will likely be a cold and uncomfortable day in Kansas City.