It's that time of the year again. Mile High Report begins our annual 90 players in 90 days roster breakdown. Last year went fairly well, but starting today and through August 27th, we'll break down every player on the Denver Broncos roster.
Name: Kalif Raymond
Position: Wide receiver/returner
Height: 5'9" Weight: 160
Age: 21 Experience: R
College: Holy Cross
The 2016 NFL Draft came and went, and the explosive kick returner Kalif Raymond was not selected during the three-day/seven round event.
This meant Raymond was now an undrafted free agent and could sign with any NFL club that showed interest in him
One team that came calling Raymond was the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, and this was an opportunity that Raymond couldn't turn down. He was among the 23 undrafted free agents signed by the Broncos the day after the draft. Now he will be competing for a roster spot or a spot on the practice squad this summer.
Raymond played four years at Holy Cros and put up some big numbers while there. During his four-year stint there he totaled 155 receptions for 1,683 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed the ball 29 times for 103 yards and 1 touchdown during his career. This past season Raymond totaled 74 receptions for 978 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
Raymond was also explosive as a kick and punt returner at Holy Cross. He returned a career 62 punts for 464 yards(7.5 yards per return) and 1 touchdown. He also returned 80 career kick returns for 1,809 yards(22.6 yards per return) and 2 touchdowns.
What makes Raymond such a good return man is his blazing speed. This past winter he ran a 4.34 40-time at Harvard's Pro Day. This time caught scouts eyes and they paid more attention to him during his other workouts.
"I think that got everybody hyped up a bit," said the ecstatic Raymond, "because when it came time to run my routes, scouts were paying attention to me to see if it translated from the 40 to the routes."
Like most speedy NFL prospects, Raymond has a Track and Field background. He set school records at Holy Cross in the 60 (6.95) and 100 (10.71) meter dashes. It's nice to see his track and field speed translates to the football field.
Now Raymond will enter the Denver Broncos Training Camp competing for the starting kick and punt return jobs. His main competition appears to be fellow undrafted rookie Bralon Addison and veteran Jordan Norwood.
The job is an open competition and Raymond could win it with a strong showing during camp and during the preseason.
It's always good to have blazing speed. It's something you can't teach and a valued attribute to have if you're competing for a returner job.
He looked good at Holy Cross and hopes to continue that in the NFL.
What really helps Raymond is the lack of a kick and punt returner currently on the Broncos roster. Andre Caldwell and Omar Bolden were the Broncos kick returners last season, but neither really did all that great and neither are on the roster this season. Jordan Norwood wasn't all that great as a punt returner either, so a strong showing could give Raymond the job.
In Houston, Gary Kubiak has Trindon Holliday so maybe the Broncos view the smaller/fast/explosive Raymond as their next Holliday?
Raymond's size will limit him in the NFL.
He is listed at 5'9", 160lbs and this will limit him to return man only duties in the NFL. He could see some snaps in the slot in the NFL, but at his current size, I doubt he could do it consistently in the NFL.
Also, there are some injury concerns.
As we saw with Trindon Holliday, being that small will make every hit you take in the NFL will end up looking like a highlight reel "big hit" tackle. So obviously being hit by guys 30, 40, or sometimes near 100 pounds bigger than you will make your chances of getting hurt go up a bit.
Denver Broncos Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis on Kalif Raymond
"He’s a smaller guy, but he’s got great speed, and we think he’s got a chance to compete in there."
Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore on Kalif Raymond
"We’ve always known Kalif is fast, I think anyone who’s ever seen him play knows he has legitimate speed, but it’s his quickness and change of direction. There are a lot of people around with speed, but your ability to accelerate, to start fast, to change direction without losing much speed, Kalif has an unusual ability from that standpoint."
His only shot at making the roster is winning the kick and/or punt return job this summer.
I really do not see him competing for a roster spot at wide receiver and this could hurt him. Kubiak likes looking for players who can do multiple things and that is where Raymond is limited. His competition(Addison and Norwood) can play receiver, and Raymond probably can't contribute there.
I think he is a darkhorse option right now. A few explosive plays this summer could change my mind, but right now I think Bralon Addison has a better shot at making the team right now.
I wouldn't be shocked or upset if Raymond ended up on the Broncos practice squad this year as the backup return man.