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Jake Butt emerging as a red zone threat for Case Keenum

The Denver Broncos had to wait an entire year for their 2017 fifth-round pick to get healthy, but the wait is finally paying off.

Casey Barrett- Mile High Report

There was a lot of excitement from Denver Broncos fans when they selected tight end Jake Butt in the fifth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. At the time his knee injury in a bowl game that year, he was projected to go as high as the second-round of that draft. So by getting him in the fifth round knowing it would be a full year before Butt was ready to compete, the Broncos played the long game.

And it is now paying off.

Butt came out ready Day 1 of Broncos Camp. From the toe-tap drills to building chemistry with Case Keenum, that year off has been huge for Butt’s mental development at the pro level.

“I had a year to observe how pro football really works,” Butt said. “Going back to the spring, I really got into the playbook so I can hit the ground running in camp.”

Then he started making defenders pay in coverage. Broncos starting inside linebacker Todd Davis was especially impressed when asked about how well Butt has perform to start camp.

“Man, he’s really good,” linebacker Todd Davis said on Monday. “He’s a great receiving tight end. He’s able to make people miss and get open. I think he’s really coming along, and I think he’s going to be exciting for us this year.”

When pads came on Tuesday, Butt showed everyone how deadly he can be down the middle of the field catching a 20-yard strike from Keenum for a touchdown.

One of the Broncos biggest problems on offense last season was a complete lack of pushing defenses in the middle of the field. Part of that was due to Trevor Siemian and his severe regression as a quarterback in year two and part of that was a lack of receiving talent at tight end in that area of the field.

For the Broncos offense to take a big step forward, they will need Butt to continue to progress and become that red zone weapon and third-down security blanket for Case Keenum. So far, he’s heading in that direction.