Can the Broncos keep away from accidents, lastly attain full potential at extensive receiver
Jeff Legwold, ESPN Senior AuthorJul 11, 2023, 06:00 AM ET
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos‘ extensive receiver group has loads of expertise, upside and potential.
They’re additionally a soccer riddle, a mysterious possibly within the crew’s newest try to dig out of offensive woes which have contributed to a playoff drought that dates again to the Tremendous Bowl 50 victory.
Contemplate: since Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler arrived within the 2020 draft as first- and second-round picks respectively, Jeudy, Hamler, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton have performed in two video games collectively over three seasons.
Two. Out of fifty.
Sutton tore the ACL in his left knee in 2020, Hamler suffered a torn left ACL and hip damage in 2021 and Patrick tore his proper ACL in coaching camp final summer time.
However as one other coaching camp approaches — Broncos rookies are scheduled to report July 19, veterans July 25 — they’re left to marvel what all of it might appear to be if they will keep away from the accidents and offensive inconsistencies which have curtailed their progress.
“It could be superb,’’ Patrick mentioned.
The Broncos rebuffed commerce discussions about Jeudy and Sutton this previous offseason as a result of they consider in what some opposing basic managers have mentioned is the Broncos’ most proficient group on the depth chart. Right here’s a have a look at what may be the Broncos’ most intriguing place teams as camp opens.
How laborious have the Broncos tried to make this work?
The Broncos have definitely spun the wheel at quarterback, head coach and offensive coordinator throughout their present seven-year trek within the playoff desert, however an argument could possibly be made they haven’t tried more durable within the draft than they’ve at extensive receiver.
Within the final seven drafts, the Broncos have used 11 picks on extensive receivers, with a minimum of one extensive receiver chosen in every of these seven drafts. That features rookie Marvin Mims, who was chosen within the second spherical final April, No. 63 general out of Oklahoma.
The Broncos have one 1,000-yard receiving season and one Professional Bowl choice within the earlier 10 picks — Sutton in 2019 — to point out for it.
“I’m studying Courtland’s progress, he’s doing properly,’’ coach Sean Payton mentioned because the offseason program drew to an in depth. “Man, he’s transitioning properly. I give him a tough time — that 2019 album he put out was fairly good. We’re searching for one other actually good soundtrack in 2023. He needs to please, and he works his tail off.’’
How huge a task should Jeudy play for the Broncos offense to show it round?
Discuss to personnel executives across the league and the mixture of Payton’s resume as a playcaller and Jeudy’s athleticism and route-running is the one they contemplate to have essentially the most potential for the most important returns.
Jeudy drew loads of commerce curiosity early within the offseason, however the Broncos see what others see. Sources within the league mentioned repeatedly this offseason the Broncos needed a first-round decide in alternate for Jeudy earlier than Payton publicly mentioned the Broncos weren’t going to commerce him. The Broncos ultimately picked up Jeudy’s fifth-year choice for the 2024 season.
“At all times good to be needed,’’ Jeudy mentioned. “However I’m additionally glad that I’m a Denver Bronco. I wasn’t interested by it an excessive amount of. I’m glad I’m right here, glad they did decide up the fifth yr.’’
Jeudy is explosive, and his quick space quickness in addition to his route precision allows him to create separation in opposition to even the league’s finest cornerbacks. However he has battled accidents — he’s performed 16, 10 and 15 video games in his three seasons — and has battled himself at occasions to maintain his on-field feelings in verify.
Opposing defensive coaches typically inform their defensive backs to attempt to rattle Jeudy — get bodily, tug a jersey, verbally have interaction him. It has labored at occasions and Jeudy has had heated exchanges with officers and opponents alike when issues didn’t go properly, typically on the expense of his personal manufacturing in an already balky offense.
Payton and extensive receivers coach Keary Colbert have additionally emphasised Jeudy’s hand placement throughout catches — “thumbs collectively, not pinkies’’ — to enhance his consistency as properly.
Jeudy’s final six video games of 2022 had been additionally one of many few vivid spots down the stretch. He caught 37 passes in these video games, had two 100-yard video games and a three-touchdown effort in a Week 14 loss to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs.
“I’ve instructed him I’m going to be on you and we’re going to get essentially the most out of you,’’ Payton mentioned.
Each Jeudy and Sutton have mentioned they’ve taken an in depth have a look at how Michael Thomas slot in Payton’s offense with the New Orleans Saints. Thomas had 4 1,000-yard seasons and three 100-catch seasons in a four-year span with Payton because the Saints’ coach, together with an NFL file 149 catches in 2019.
What does the proper world appear to be?
Payton’s greatest process can be to get quarterback Russell Wilson settled so he can play with higher footwork, timing and composure. In 2022, Wilson completed with a career-low 16 landing passes and a career-most 55 sacks in a mismatched scheme that produced the league’s lowest-scoring offense.
The Broncos surrendered a first-round decide to rent Payton, spent huge in free company to improve the offensive line (deal with Mike McGlinchey signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal, guard Ben Powers signed a four-year, $51.5 million deal) and used their opening collection of the draft on Mims.
Nevertheless, the phrases “if wholesome’’ loom the most important for the place group. They’ve pace, measurement and physicality with gamers who can problem defenses in all elements of the sphere, a tantalizing mixture.
Hamler, who’s working again from knee and hip troubles, suffered a torn pectoral early within the offseason and Mims was held out of the ultimate levels of the offseason program with a leg damage.
Hamler has been residing at Patrick’s home through the offseason — “one of many issues I’ve been preaching to him is get a routine’’ –- whereas every receiver has mentioned they’ve finished every part attainable to maintain themselves on the sphere within the weeks and months forward.
“It’s one thing that all of us need,’’ Patrick mentioned. “ … To be sure that this season there’s no excuses.’’