A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: Marcel Jensen
Position: Tight End
Height: 6-6 Weight: 270
Age: 25 Experience: 2
College: Fresno State
Haven't heard of him?
Well that's only because you've just been watching regular season NFL the past year and haven't been paying attention to the Broncos' offseason workout reports.
And even if you had, there's not too much out there on the tight end out of Fresno State who went to the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent last year. But the 6-foot-6, 270-pound California native has been drawing some attention from Broncos' coaches this offseason ... and that's what matters.
Jensen, a waiver claim from Jacksonville in May, "has caught up very quickly mentally," head coach Gary Kubiak said following the veteran minicamp at the beginning of June. "There's a place on our football team for another one of those type of guys, but he'll have to earn it."
In fact, he'll be trying to earn it along with a slew of other young tight ends, including James Casey, Joe Don Duncan and Dominique Jones as Virgil Green and Owen Daniels will be the likely starters.
Playing just one game as a rookie last season before going back to the Jaguars' practice squad, Jensen caught one pass for eight yards, and PFF gave him a -2.8 overall rating highlighted by a -3.2 rating for pass blocking and two sacks allowed.
So, not really all that impressive. But it was his rookie year, he was playing with Blake Bortles, and he only became an offense guy four years ago when he converted from defensive end to tight end for the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Luckily, given Kubiak's offseason philosophy to give the young guys a lot of reps, Jensen has had a chance to showcase his athleticism (and long arms!) quite often as he is reportedly a favorite target for Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert.
Jensen turned some heads during Broncos minicamp last week with his large frame and long arms that seem to be able to catch almost anything.
In fact, Jensen's arms measure the longest (34 7/8") of the 74 tight ends at the National Scouting Combine since 2012, making his catch radius the largest on the team and among the biggest in the NFL.
Combine that reach with his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame and 35-inch vertical and you know he can push some defenders around (or down) on the way to the end zone.
The fact that Jensen was once a defensive player also means he is not afraid to block/tackle (like, um, a previous Broncos tight end), which is especially good in a Kubiak/Rick Dennison-run offense.
Jensen also has some Special Teams prowess that could help make his case for a roster spot. At Fresno State, the second-team All Mountain West tight end blocked what would have been a game-winning field goal by rival San Diego State, earning Jensen Special Teams Player of the Week honors. His senior season, Jensen had 26 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns on a team that ranked third in total offense.
From Mocking the Draft's review of Jensen prior to the 2014 draft:
Blocking is a bit of a lost art for college tight ends, but Marcel Jensen is cut from a different mold. The 270-pounder did his fair share of blocking for Fresno State throughout his career. He is strong enough to drive defenders off the ball and is smart about how he blocks as well. Of course, given his size, Jensen is never the fastest player on the field and has some trouble getting separation due to a lack of explosiveness when changing direction. That being said, Jensen rarely drops the ball and can be relied upon in the middle portion of the field.
The Bad: Somewhat injury prone, one of the biggest knocks on Jensen is his lack of speed and pedestrian route-running, having spent most of his time with Bulldogs catching short passes or running up the seams.
In NFL.com's draft preview, Nolan Nawrocki noted Jensen was the slowest among tight ends with a 4.69 20-yard shuttle and had "ordinary creativity and elusiveness" as a tight end. However, NFL.com also called him "relatively raw" with physical tools to become a balanced "Y" tight end:
"He should only get better and has potential to become an asset in the running game and a mismatch in the passing game." - NFL.com
Sounds almost perfect for Kubiak, doesn't it?
Quotable: If you thought it was hard to find information about Jensen, try finding a quote from him. (go on, I dare ya!) One of the few times he has been quoted, the athletic tight end was talking about one of the greatest tight ends in NFL (who also happened to be a former Broncos tight end) - Julius Thomas.
"I wasn't aware of him before," Jensen said at the 2014 Draft when asked how aspiring NFL tight ends thought of Thomas' success. "Then he blew up."
Yes he did, but now that Thomas is at the Jaguars for a cool $9 million/year price tag, Jensen is hoping to follow Thomas' path and make a name for himself as a Bronco. As a former basketball player and defensive end, Jensen could just do that but also make Broncos fans happier by being a solid blocking tight end too.
And given that Jensen is now on a team known for developing talent, the universe could just be aligning for the second-year player.
An interesting additional fact about Jensen is that he has been a lifelong Golden State Warriors fan, so you can imagine how happy the 25-year-old "kid" was last week after the NBA championships.
Status: Fighting for a roster spot among some stiff competition. With Virgil Green and Owen Daniels the likely starters, Jensen will be battling Casey, Duncan and Jones for the coveted third (and fourth) position on the depth chart.