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Broncos hope tight end Jake Butt can become the team’s starter

Jake Butt had a red shirt year his rookie season, but the Denver Broncos drafted him to compete for the team’s starting tight end position.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Minicamp Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

When the Denver Broncos drafted tight end Jake Butt in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, they knew he likely wouldn’t compete for much playing time in his rookie year as he recovered from a torn ACL in his final game in college.

They clearly eyed 2018 as the time for Butt to compete for that starting position and that hasn’t changed.

“We drafted him to be that guy,” Head coach Vance Joseph said on Monday. “Obviously [TE Jeff] Heuerman has made some strides but we are hoping Jake Butt becomes that guy that we hoped he was going to be. Obviously, before the injury in college, he was a guy who was going to be a top two-or three-round player. We are hoping he gets back to that.

“Just being around the kid for a year, he is a pro’s pro. He gets it. He works at it, he studies and he loves it. He will do everything he has to do to be a great player. If I’m betting on Jake, I’m betting it’s going to happen.”

Butt was projected to be a late second round pick in 2017, but fell to the Broncos all the way to the fifth round. He finished his Michigan career as one of the most successful tight ends in school history with the most career receptions with 138, receiving yards with 1,646 and second in touchdowns with 11.

Coming out of college, he projected to be a solid pass-catching tight end. A guy who had a knack for finding the open spot in the route. He is not overly athletic or a deep threat, but he’ll get the job done on third down. His run blocking form was solid, but he also needed to add strength to become a more effective run blocker at the pro level.

Overall, there is a lot to be excited about for Jake Butt heading into the 2018 season. The only question now is whether he is ready for the challenge.