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2018 Training Camp: Five breakout candidates on the offensive side of the ball for the Broncos

Could Royce Freeman be the next rookie running back to have a breakout season?

Utah v Oregon Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Each year Training Camp provides a stepping stone for players to vault themselves into stardom in the NFL. The Broncos have multiple players who fit that bill on the offensive side of the ball and will need them to do just that if they want to get the improvements they seek on offense. So I give you five Broncos on the offensive side of the ball who could have breakout campaigns in 2018.

1: Running back, Royce Freeman

This is an obvious one of course since Freeman has been considered a potential breakout star this year by many including NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks. The NFL Network analyst told 104.3’s Mike Evan’s and Mark Schlereth that “I do believe there’s a chance that Royce Freeman could be that guy that does some of the Kareem Hunt type things”. If so, that would be a big-time addition to the Broncos offense.

Hunt is coming off a 1,300+ yard rushing season with the Chiefs with 8 rushing touchdowns, 53 receptions for 455 yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. If Freeman can give the Broncos something like that, it will give this offense a much needed dynamic player out of their backfield and make life much easier for quarterback, Case Keenum.

Now before we get too ahead of ourselves here, Freeman needs to win the job. A strong camp by the explosive rookie back would be a positive step in the right direction and help him win the starting running back job for the Broncos.

I think Freeman can be that guy for the Broncos and I am anxious to see him on the practice field for the Broncos in the coming weeks. We won’t know too much until the pads come on but showing off his explosive ability early on won’t hurt.

2: Tight end, Jake Butt

If Jake Butt didn’t suffer a second ACL injury prior to the 2017 NFL Draft he likely would have been a day two selection. Unfortunately, he did suffer that second ACL injury and fell to the first pick of the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft where the Broncos selected him.

If all things work out for Butt and the Broncos, this could go down as a big-time steal for them.

The 2017 season was essentially a redshirt season for Butt who spent his entire year on PUP list while he rehabbed back from his ACL Injury he suffered in the final game of his collegiate career. Now, he is battling for the starting tight end job for the Broncos offense.

Right now, his main competition is former third-round pick Jeff Heuerman who hasn’t produced a ton throughout his career as of yet. So the door is there for Butt to emerge once camp opens.

The one thing that could derail any potential breakout year for Butt is the Broncos bringing in a veteran and letting Butt ease his way back into football. Also, keep in mind that Butt is basically a rookie and rookie tight ends rarely have big-time impacts on an offense so he has that working against him.

With that said, I think Butt will be a red zone target for quarterback Case Keenum at the very least for the Broncos and he will have an impact there. Outside of that, how much Butt contributes early on will depend on his health, his play, and if they bring in a veteran or not.

3: Wide receiver, Courtland Sutton

As you have noticed, there is a trend brewing here. The Broncos have a bunch of young talent on their offensive side of the ball that may or may not have a breakout year in 2018. One of those names is 2018 second-round pick, wide receiver, Courtland Sutton.

Sutton is a 6’4”, 220lb wide receiver who is battling for the number three wide receiver job for the Broncos offense. A few weeks ago, ESPN’s Jeff Legwold said that Sutton is the “leader in the clubhouse” for the Broncos number three wide receiver job. If he has a strong camp and earns that number three job, he will be on his way to having a potential breakout year for the Broncos.

Sutton is a bit of a raw player who needs to learn a bit to reach his true potential which is pretty high in my opinion. For now, though, Sutton will give the Broncos another big body wide receiver who can be a red zone target for Case Keenum in special packages early on in 2018.

As for Sutton earning the number three job out-right, I don’t see it yet. He most certainly will have a role and likely see time in the red zone, but I don’t see him being the exclusive number three wide receiver Broncos. The reason for this is the fourth-round wide receiver, Daesean Hamilton. He’s next on this list and is perfect for the slot receiver job. I think we’ll see both of them play there throughout the year for the Broncos and I expect both to be productive.

4: Wide receiver, DaeSean Hamilton

I already dived into Hamilton a bit here, but I think of the two rookie wide receivers, Hamilton has the best odds of being the bigger breakout player. This is not a knock on Sutton at all by the way. He’s just rawer right now while Hamilton is a refined route runner who can step in and start there right away.

Hamilton really caught my eye(and the Broncos eye) during the Senior Bowl because of his crisp route running and just overall play and that continued this spring and will likely continue throughout camp

I think Hamilton will be the Broncos main slot receiver this year with Courtland Sutton getting reps as well in red zone or in place of DT or Sanders during the game. I also think he will be a favorite target for quarterback Case Keenum. As Andrew Mason noted above in his tweet, Hamilton is already studying up on Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen who was a favorite target for Keenum last year with the Vikings.

The fact the Broncos were able to get Hamilton in the fourth round is a big-time steal in my mind and I expect he will be one of the stars from Training Camp.

5: Guard, Connor McGovern

McGovern isn’t an exciting rookie or play a sexy skill position, but the big guard could be a starter along the Broncos line in 2018 and be a very good one.

I’ve always been a big McGovern fan so I am a tad biased here, but right now he is penciled in as the Broncos starting right guard and I think he can run away with the job.

McGovern is as strong as they get(seriously, his weight room stuff insane) and his play was impressive last year in short stints when given the chance. Now, he has a full season as the Broncos starting right guard he should run away with this job.

One of the big reasons for my optimism here is the Broncos interior offensive line coach addition. The Broncos brought in Sean Kugler to coach their guards and centers and his track record speaks for himself. I think he will LOVE what has in McGovern and will coach up his technique and turn him into an even better player.

I also expect the Broncos to put an emphasis on the run game this season and having a mauler like McGovern in the trenches should be beneficial


Running back, David Williams

I admittedly do not know much about Williams and tape on him is sparse, but there is one thing to think about here. Gary Kubiak’s influence was obvious in this draft and if he had any say in William’s selection, watch out.

As MHR’s Ian Henson has told me about Williams “A handpicked running back by Gary Kubiak in the 7th round(or late in general) usually pans out well for him”.


Which offensive player do you think is most likely to have a breakout year for the Broncos?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    RB Royce Freeman
    (572 votes)
  • 27%
    TE Jake Butt
    (368 votes)
  • 5%
    WR Courtland Sutton
    (70 votes)
  • 15%
    WR DaeSean Hamilton
    (207 votes)
  • 7%
    G Connor McGovern
    (97 votes)
  • 1%
    RB David Williams
    (26 votes)
1340 votes total Vote Now