clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Broncos receiving early returns from rookie class

The Denver Broncos are reaping early benefits from their 2018 draft class, with a handful of players contributing in a big way to start their NFL careers.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country.

A common criticism of John Elway in his tenure as General Manager of the Denver Broncos has been his drafting ability. That has been especially true for their early round picks, which have usually been misses, providing tenuous production at best.

In order to turn things around for the long haul, it was mission critical for the franchise to have a successful draft this past April. As silly as it may seem, it’s commonplace for outlets to grade the drafts after they happen. As soon as the 2018 NFL Draft was over, the franchise was lauded for their group of draftees — with many draft analysts and media personalities ranking the Broncos’ class as one the best.

During training camp and the preseason, we began to see why they were given such praise. Even so, many across Broncos Country remained cautious with their expectations, given their history of hype letdowns over the years. Yet two games into the regular season, it appears that this year’s crop of rookies is indeed the real deal.

According to Patrick Smyth, the team’s Executive Vice President of Public and Community Relations, rookies Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton have combined for 366 total yards — the most by an offensive trio of rookies in well over a decade. On the defensive side of the ball, top pick Bradley Chubb has also made his presence known. In two games, he has six tackles, a half sack and eight quarterback pressures. Additionally, day three selections Josey Jewell, DaeSean Hamilton and Keishawn Bierria have made been integral special teams players. So far, so good for the 2018 draft class.

“Our young guys who are playing for us, they’re all qualified, they’re all smart guys and they’re well-coached. That’s huge,” stated Head Coach Vance Joseph after the team’s victory against the Oakland Raiders. “Obviously with game time and more experience, they’re going to play better for us. I’ve been really impressed with this entire class how they’ve played for us the last two games,” he added.

Not only are the Broncos reaping the benefits from their most recent class, others from years past are also contributing in a positive manner.

After spending his entire first season on injured reserve, second-year tight end Jake Butt has caught 6 passes for 77 yards in his first two professional games. Despite Butt seeing nearly half of the snaps as Jeff Heuerman, he has had more than double the production. While his blocking skills are still a work in progress, Butt has shown to be a reliable target on third downs and has provided Case Keenum another viable weapon on offense.

Credit must also be given to 2017 first-round selection Garett Bolles, who has shown demonstrable improvement in his second year and appears to be developing into the franchise left tackle the team believed he could become. Additionally, the play of Connor McGovern at right guard has been impressive. The progress of those two are a major reason why this year’s offensive line unit looks much better and has played with better consistency than the past several seasons.

While it’s only one draft class, it appears that the Broncos have bucked the long-standing trend of underproduction from their rookie class. Moreover, if the youth on the Broncos’ roster continues to develop and progress each week, the franchise will undoubtedly be in good shape for the remainder of the season and beyond.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today’s offering of Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

Von Miller and Shaq Barrett named to PFF’s Team of the Week
Broncos outside linebackers Von Miller and Shaq Barrett received recognition for their key performances in Week 2.

Should the Broncos move on from Demaryius Thomas?
Justin Michael of Mile High Sports delves into the idea of the Denver Broncos parting ways with the veteran receiver.

Power Rankings Roundup: Broncos make a steady climb
Take a look at where the experts ranked the Broncos after the Week 2 slate of games.

RB Phillip Lindsay nominated for two weekly NFL honors
Cast your vote for the rookie running back right now!

Jon Gruden: No regrets on Khalil Mack trade despite 0-2 start
While Jon Gruden has bemoaned the lack of a pass rush through two winless games in his return to the NFL, the Oakland Raiders coach said he has no second thoughts on trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears on Sept. 1.

How Patrick Mahomes is keeping his many hungry receivers fed
The Chiefs have scored 80 points in two games, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown 10 touchdowns to seven different receivers.

Getting Alex Collins, Ravens run game on track is ‘big priority’
The Ravens have been among the league’s worst rushing teams through two games. “We need to pop some,” coach John Harbaugh said.

Brady doesn't want to heap expectations on Gordon -
Quarterback Tom Brady is hoping that the Patriots' newest acquisition can help the team but noted it could take some time to build chemistry with former Browns wideout Josh Gordon.

Pete Carroll: Russell Wilson is 'over-trying a little bit' -
After opening the season 0-2, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has sine criticism for QB Russell Wilson. Carroll feels the signal-caller is pressing in difficult situations to make the most out of a play.

Tomlin confirms Antonio Brown's Monday absence -
The drama that began Sunday with Antonio Brown doesn't appear to be slowing. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Tuesday that the receiver did not show up at the team's facility for work on Monday.