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2019 Broncos roster review: Wide receiver River Cracraft

Can Denver Broncos wide receiver River Cracraft hold off the challengers for his roster spot?

NFL: Denver Broncos-Minicamp
Will River make the Broncos’ roster?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

River Cracraft has lived a fairly typical NFL life on the roster bubble so far. A knee injury kept him out of workouts prior to the 2017 draft, which ultimately led him to going undrafted and unsigned. He worked out for Bill Belichick and the Patriots in September but they elected to go another direction. His journey could have ended there, only he eventually found room on the Broncos practice squad later in the 2017 season.

Last season he failed to make the initial Broncos roster out of camp and again signed with the practice squad. Then he was released from the practice squad in order for the Broncos to add Carlos Henderson. It wasn’t until November of last year that he finally made the game day roster after the Demaryius Thomas trade. He made his NFL debut 2 days later against D.T. and the Houston Texans where he returned one punt.

His first career reception came in the final game of the season against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The good

  • Stands 6’ and nearly 200 lbs.
  • He recorded 218 receptions for 2,701 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in college.
  • Experienced zone sitter. Will find holes in coverage.
  • Ability to change direction and shift gears.
  • Fearless over the middle.
  • Strong body control.

Few players benefit as much from Emmanuel Sanders’ uncertain health status going into the beginning of 2019 as much as Cracraft does. With a tight competition for snaps any additional reps that go the 24-year old’s way provide more opportunities to make a strong impression and find his timing with the quarterbacks. The other big thing working in his favor is that he’s been fighting his entire professional life. It isn’t new to him like it is for the rookies. That experience and what it entails could help as he tries to standout.

The bad

  • Played 27 offensive snaps in 2018.
  • 109 special teams snaps. Not a flashy return threat.
  • Marginal athletic ability. Separation is a big question.
  • Catch radius is adequate. Not a contested catch artist.
  • College production inflated by system.

Even with E’s injury, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton are all but complete locks to make the roster. Tim Patrick also looks likely to make the team after a solid finish to his 2018. That leaves one, possibly two spots open for seven receivers to duke it out over. Cracraft lacks the pedigree Juwan Winfree has as a 2019 draft pick, or the sheer athleticism Brendan Langley has. It puts a lot of pressure on him to excel as an intermediate slot option and reliable return man. Even then, the coaching staff may not prioritize that over some of the other options in front of them.

River Cracraft’s roster status with the Broncos

Back when I made my initial prediction for Denver’s 53 man roster I picked Cracraft over Winfree, Langley, and the others. I’ve since changed my mind on that. Barring injury I think he’s going to have a hard time sticking if only because he doesn’t offer one particular thing the coaching staff can’t find in greater quantities with another receiver. Hamilton’s as good an intermediate receiver but also brings more athleticism, for example.