Good morning, Broncos Country.
After years of subpar drafting, the Denver Broncos may have reversed a longtime trend with their 2018 draft class. It’s a crop of young talent that has consistently received high praise, in addition to a handful of analysts believing that several rookies could shine bright out the gate for the franchise this coming season.
All the hype leads me to ask all of Broncos Country, which rookie from this year’s draft class will stand above all the rest and have the biggest impact in 2018? Here are my thoughts on the young players who have the best shot at succeeding early on in their careers with the Broncos.
If one is going to make an educated guess, you have to start with the player the franchise stole at the top of this year’s draft. With veteran Shane Ray sidelined again due to his nagging wrist injury, first-round draft selection Bradley Chubb is prime to see more playing time than expected early on and could very well be the team’s opening day starter at outside linebacker opposite of Von Miller. The Broncos’ pass rush wasn’t as productive last year in comparison to years past, and the team is hoping Chubb can terrorize opposing quarterbacks early and often — just like he did at North Carolina State with ease.
Over the course of OTA’s and the advent of the team’s mini-camp, rookie wide receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton have impressed and figure to play an integral role in the Broncos’ aerial assault in 2018. Not only have their fellow players been impressed, both have caught the eye of Head Coach Vance Joseph, who believes both are further along in the developmental process in comparison to many young wideouts who come into the league.
“I’ve seen a talented guy. He has a huge catch radius and he’s got great ball skills,” stated Joseph in regard to second-round pick Courtland Sutton. “As a route runner, it’s coming, but he’s so big and strong that if he doesn’t win with the route, he wins with his body. That’s important also. He’s a worker, he’s mature and he will help us in the fall.”
Joseph also had high praise for Hamilton and was specifically asked about his route running ability and how it bodes well for him to make a splash in his first season with the team.
“It’s a skillset that we saw at the Senior Bowl. Having him for a week was a good deal for us. He’s a guy that’s been a four-year starter in college and that’s rare, to have a guy that’s played four years of college football. I think the more guys who play four years, the more you’ll see that skillset shine.”
While veteran running backs Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson may have the inside track to the team’s starting position at running back — don’t count out the possibility of third-round selection Royce Freeman from being the team’s workhorse this year. One of the most productive backs in NCAA history, Freeman has a knack for accumulating yards after initial contact and was a touchdown and all-purpose yard phenom in his four years at the University of Oregon. So good in fact that some believe he merits consideration for Rookie of the Year candidacy. Of all the rookies on the squad, I believe Freeman will have the chance to do the most for the team this year and revitalize an offense that needs to improve on the ground in order to have success.
I don't care if it's June 12. I'm planting my flag on Royce Freeman as 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year. When Devontae Booker is your main competition, those +3100 odds are too good to pass up. #Broncos— Stephen Johnson (@Stephen_Roto) June 12, 2018
Last but not least, there is another prospect on defensive side of the ball who could make a splash in his first-season and that is linebacker Josey Jewell. He has earned reps with the first-team defense early on in his career with the team. Known and respected for his leadership qualities and nose for the football, Jewell possesses the instincts and high-motor to carve himself a significant role as a rookie in the Broncos’ defense — especially against the opposing running game.
So Broncos Country, which of these players will have the biggest impact in 2018? Sound off in the comments section and let your voice be heard.
As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.
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