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HT: Despite struggles for the team, the Broncos’ rookies rock.

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After half a season in the NFL, the Broncos’ 2018 rookies are setting themselves a pretty nice pace.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos are at the halfway point of their season, and things aren’t going all that well for them as a whole. But despite a disappointing season, some Broncos players are doing very well as individuals. Particularly, many of the rookies are looking great. That’s probably no surprise, but now that we’ve got a good sample size from these rookies, let’s look & see just what kind of paces they’re setting.

Phillip Lindsay

Kicking things off with the rookie running sensation, let’s take a moment to appreciate the so-far worthy successor to Terrell Davis’s #30 jersey. Not to mention the rather startling fact that an undrafted rookie is worthy of top billing in this Broncos rookie class. In his first 8 games in the NFL, Lindsay has racked up an impressive 531 rushing yards with a 5.7 yards per attempt average and 3 rushing TDs. He’s also added 18 receptions on 23 targets for another 136 yards and 1 receiving TD.

The last two games have seen the Broncos make a decisive shift toward running more often, so I’m quite comfortable projecting Lindsay to at least double his current stats by season’s end. He’s on pace for around 1,060 rushing yards and 6+ rushing TDs, and close to 300 receiving yards with another receiving TD. And did I mention that he hasn’t fumbled yet?

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

That pace will land Lindsay around 28th on the Broncos’ career rushing leaderboard after just one season. And if he keeps up the pace next year, he’ll be threatening the club’s top 10. At the moment, Lindsay’s just 200 yards & 2 rushing TDs shy of former 2nd round pick Montee Ball’s career totals. He can, and probably will, beat that mark before Thanksgiving. We never know what the future holds, but right now Phillip Lindsay looks like the best young Broncos running back since Clinton Portis.

Bradley Chubb

After a slow start to the season with 1.5 sacks in the first 5 weeks of play, Bradley Chubb caught on fire in October with 5.5 sacks in his last 3 games. That, and a bevvy of other plays made, was enough to earn him Defensive Rookie of the Month honors this week.

Chubb presently stands at 7 sacks, the 4th most of any Broncos rookie since the stat began being tracked in 1982. He’s breathing down the neck of Elvis Dumervil (8.5), with Michael Croel’s (10.0) and Von Miller’s (11.5) marks also definitely within reach. In fact, with a terrible Texans offensive line coming to town this weekend, Chubb’s pretty well positioned to keep up his sack streak as we enter the 2nd half of the season.

I’ve mentioned where Chubb’s standing in relation to other Broncos before, but he’s reaching the point where we need to take a little wider view as well. He leads all 2018 rookies in sacks by a decently wide margin, with the SaintsMarcus Davenport and the ColtsDarius Leonard tied for 2nd with 4.0 each. If Chubb keeps up his current pace, he’ll finish the season at or around 14 sacks, which would be good enough to tie Aldon Smith for the 2nd most by a rookie in recorded NFL history. And that mark is just half a sack shy of Jevon Kearse’s 14.5 sacks to lead all rookies. Whether Chubb gets there or not remains to be seen, but he’s definitely capable of it.

Courtland Sutton

The king is dead; long live the king? Courtland Sutton is set to make his 2nd career start this week vs the Texans in the wake of the team’s decision to trade Broncos legend Demaryius Thomas to those same Texans. Sutton’s not likely to usurp Sanders’ spot as Case Keenum’s go-to target, but he should see his target share take a sizeable jump.

It hasn’t been a bad season so far for Sutton. He’s been on pace for 34 catches for 648 yards and 4 TDs. That’d be a top 3 to top 5 receiving season among rookies in 4 of the last 5 seasons (2014 was insane). But now it’s safe to say that Sutton will increase his pace- he may even have a shot at breaking 1,000 yards.

Denver Broncos v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Royce Freeman

Unfortunately, the thunder in the Broncos’ rookie thunder-and-lightning RB duo is sidelined for the time being. With any luck, Freeman will return after the bye. When he does, the Broncos should get a nice little boost to their woeful redzone production. Not only does Freeman have the power to win in short yardage situations and against stacked boxes, he excels at it.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Lindsay has definitely eclipsed Freeman’s initial starpower in the Broncos’ backfield, but expect Freeman to earn some of that back when he returns to the field and enhances what’s already one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.

DaeSean Hamilton

If there’s someone who might benefit from the Demaryius Thomas trade even more than Courtland Sutton, it’s DaeSean Hamilton. The shifty, route-wise rookie receiver has been buried on the depth chart so far this season, but that’s set to change... just as soon as he gets back on the field from a knee injury.

While he hasn’t done much yet, Hamilton’s skill and potential are definitely there. This is a guy who had many draft analysts salivating prior to the 2018 NFL draft. Here’s hoping that we get to see him shine in the second half of the year.

Josey Jewell

Jewell will be making his third career start vs the Texans, filling in for the injured Brandon Marshall in this case. With 17 combined tackles on 173 snaps played so far, he’s currently making the 4th most tackles per snap among Broncos defenders. It’s a small start, but it’s pointing toward what should be a productive future for the young linebacker.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Also...

I’d like to give a shout-out to Jason, at the Bramble Breakfast & Bar in Jenks, OK. As an out-of-state fan, it’s always great to meet other Broncos fans. And it’s even better to meet a regular MHR reader- for me, that was also a first. My wife and I had a great time meeting you and your folks, Jason. You guys made our day! Thanks for reading, man.

Poll

Which Broncos rookie are you most excited about after half a season of play?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Phillip Lindsay
    (759 votes)
  • 15%
    Bradley Chubb
    (199 votes)
  • 17%
    Courtland Sutton
    (225 votes)
  • 0%
    Royce Freeman
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    DaeSean Hamilton
    (7 votes)
  • 5%
    Josey Jewell
    (67 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (8 votes)
1273 votes total Vote Now

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