Ben Raphel of The Crimson Quarry at Indiana University gives Mile High Report some insights into the Denver Broncos' second-round pick, wide receiver Cody Latimer, a blocking receiver who can also dunk and really likes wearing orange. Can't wait to see his game-day ensembles.
MHR - The Crimson Quarry mentioned that Cody Latimer had a chance for a very long career on Sundays. What strengths do you see from his college ball that will carry over well into the NFL? How does his size and strength help him in the pros?
Ben - At 6'2" and 215 pounds, Latimer's size could potentially overwhelm defensive backs in the NFL. In addition, he has spent the last three years playing on an up-tempo spread offense with a WR-heavy attack, and with the NFL really turning into a pass-first league, the opportunity is there for Latimer to have an impact in the pros.
MHR - Latimer had 20 more catches and nearly 300 more receiving yards his junior year than the year prior - and both years were significantly more productive than his freshman year (understandably). How did you see Latimer develop as a player over his three years at Indiana?
Ben - I think that maturing as a player and becoming familiar in IU coach Kevin Wilson's system really helped Latimer. Last year was only Wilson's third year as the head coach, and while the Hoosier offense showed signs of life in 2012, it became a well-oiled machine in 2013.
Latimer had 72 catches for 1,096 yards and 9 touchdowns last year, which was a jump up by about 20 catches and 300 yards from the year before. Latimer's ability to thrive in this system over the course of three years gives me hope that he'll find a niche with John Fox, Adam Gase, Peyton Manning, and the rest of the Broncos.
Always learning.. Gotta be physical and smart at this level.. I'm trying be great me and coach T… http://t.co/J6fpMi9xSr— Cody Latimer (@CodyLatimer14) May 18, 2014
MHR - GM John Elway clearly has big plans for Latimer down the road as the Broncos' top two receivers hit the free agency market next year, but there's also a chance Lattimer will see some playing time this season. How do you feel about his chances for making an impact his rookie year on an already stacked offense?
Ben - I originally thought Latimer could jump in and replace Eric Decker, but now the Broncos have also signed Emmanuel Sanders. So between Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Sanders, Latimer may have to work to get some receptions this season. But since the Broncos are such a pass-heavy team and have one of the best QBs to ever play the game - and Manning has been known to spread the ball around - I think there's a good chance Latimer can make an impact in his rookie year.
MHR - Months before the Draft, Latimer was seen as a late-round pick and then his stock rose after his impressive 40 (with a broken foot, no less) and bench press at the Combine. Although your blog pined for Latimer going to the Seattle Seahawks (we forgive you!), what do you think of Latimer's fit in Denver?
Ben - I wasn't originally thinking Latimer would end up on the Broncos - I thought he might be picked with a more pressing need at WR such as Seattle, Philly, or Carolina. However, once I heard that the Broncos called his name, I thought it could be a great opportunity for him, because he'll be surrounded by other players who know how to win, and stability in the front office.
Also, the entire state of Indiana still worships Peyton Manning. While people understand why the Colts released him and are really excited about Andrew Luck, they also still root heavily for Manning to do well. After all, without Manning, the Colts might not have its huge new stadium, or more importantly, a Lombardi Trophy. As a result, Hoosier fans are excited to see Manning throwing to an IU product.
MHR - Peyton Manning is known for making receivers look good but also having high expectations. How do you think Latimer will thrive working with a Hall-of-Fame QB like Manning? Do you think Latimer has skills to make Manning look good?
Ben - This highlight reel gives a good look at Latimer's strengths as a receiver. He'll make Manning look good on short-yardage goal line situations, and also will find ways to elude defensive backs to get open. His combination of elusiveness and strength give him the skills to make Manning continue to look like the future Hall-of-Famer that he is.
MHR - Latimer seems like a fun guy to have on the team and a great guy to have in the locker room - he can dunk a ball, is not afraid to wear bright orange and immediately embraced Broncos Country with a vine message. What can you tell us about his leadership potential on this team?
Ben - Latimer will not have to jump in and be a leader right away with the Broncos. But being surrounded by all the veterans that Denver has will help Latimer grow as both a player and leader. By picking Latimer in round 2, the Broncos are obviously making a solid investment in the guy and hoping that within five years he could be leading the WR corps on the team, regardless of who's playing QB for them.
MHR - What's a fun fact we may not already know about Cody Latimer?
Ben - Latimer didn't start playing football until his junior year of high school. He grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and originally wanted to play basketball, but his high school football coach convinced him to play for the team one year, and the rest is history.
Latimer was a general studies major at IU, and wore the same orange outfit to meet with the Broncos organization for the first time that he'd worn to his high school prom.