In the 2018 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos selected two promising wide receivers in Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. They provided a strong foundation at the position moving forward. Moreover, one couldn’t help but observe that these two prospects were likely and ideal replacements for aging veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. However, I don’t think many envisioned that the two would step up into such big roles so soon.
Sutton’s early season performance was promising enough for the franchise to trade away Thomas to the Houston Texans. Weeks later, Sanders went down with with an Achilles injury that makes his status with the team questionable for next season very questionable. The ‘next man up’ philosophy was in full swing. The Broncos had lost their two top receivers over the past several seasons and had to rely on the young receivers they acquired moving forward.
Although Sutton has cooled down the past two weeks, he is still the third-best performing rookie wide receiver. He has 35 catches for 614 yards with three touchdowns and has shown the ability to come up with tremendous grabs. There is little doubt in my mind that he will be an impact player for years to come. On the flip side in the past two games, Hamilton has been the Broncos’ most targeted receiver and has reeled in 14 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. To date he has 19 receptions for 154 yards and one score.
In addition to Sutton and Hamilton, Denver has had another young receiver perform better than expected. After spending 2017 on multiple practice squads across the league, Tim Patrick impressed in Broncos’ training camp earlier in the year and earned a spot on the final 53-man roster. He has flashed in recent weeks and has put up decent production this year with 16 catches for 223 yards and one touchdown.
Mr. Contested Catch himself, JJ Arcega-Whiteside had a great season for the Cardinal pic.twitter.com/fu1sQ83eGt— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 20, 2018
But outside of the three receivers mentioned above, the Broncos don’t have much to write home about at the position. River Cracraft and Andre Holmes are certainly replaceable and most definitely not long-term solutions. What would the Broncos do if one of their those promising receivers above were lost for any amount of time? That’s where the 2019 NFL Draft comes into play. It provides an opportunity for the franchise to add to their wide receiver arsenal and prepare for the future.
The 2019 NFL Draft is ripe with talent at the wide receiver and is considered by some to be one of the deepest in recent memory. A handful of high-profile underclassmen such as D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Kelvin Harmon and N’Keal Harry have already declared as early entrants. It’s likely that a handful of them will be first round or early day two selections at the very worst. That group has the potential to get even better if speedsters such as Parris Campbell of Ohio State and Marquise Brown (cousin of Antonio Brown) of Oklahoma end up declaring. Outside of the underclassmen, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Deebo Samuel and Anthony Johnson are three of the best senior prospects available. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it just goes to show how much talent there is in the upcoming draft.
It’s a given that wide receiver isn’t the biggest need for the Broncos. A franchise quarterback, an upgrade at cornerback and adding more talent on their offensive and defensive trenches are far bigger priority. That being said, if one of the aforementioned players were available on Day 2, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to pull the trigger and amass more talent at the position. Bolstering an offense that ranks middle-of-the-pack in most categories, especially with respect to the passing game is a must for the Broncos to have long-term success.
With the end of the season on the horizon, expect more Future Broncos segments in the near future. In the meantime, feel free to discuss some of your favorite wide receiver prospects in the comments section. Not only that, tell us if/when you believe the Broncos should look to upgrade their receiver corps in the 2019 NFL Draft.