Football Outsiders came out with their list of 25 players who could breakout in 2019. One Denver Broncos player made the list and another got an honorable mention. If both of these guys broke out with a big season this year, then the Broncos will most certainly be in positions to compete in January.
The only players considered here had to have been drafted after third-round between 2016-18 and played fewer than 500 snaps last year. For the Broncos, second-year wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton made the cut as a potential breakout player this season.
21. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos
Age: 24 | Draft: Fourth-round pick in 2018
Offensive snaps in 2018: 471
With Emmanuel Sanders’ torn Achilles tendon taking him out of the lineup, Hamilton finally had the slot receiver role all to himself in the final month of the season. If you split out those games, Hamilton actually had a worse receiving DVOA in that month than he did over his full season, but his December DVOA of minus-21.1% was not far removed from the team’s total of minus-17.9%. Everyone was struggling.
Hamilton came out of Penn State at 6-1, 203 pounds, with a big slot body and a big slot game. He doesn’t always play to that weight in strength, but he’s quite nimble and able to find easy separation underneath. He dropped only one pass all season and managed to catch 65% of his targets despite most of them being from Case Keenum. He also broke zero tackles in 30 touches.
The reason Hamilton is not higher on this list is that his deep speed is nonexistent, and he’s questionable even in the intermediate range. If Hamilton were a baseball player, he’d be the guy who can’t hit much or run the bases but can work walks left and right. Separation is a valuable skill, and perhaps the most valuable one a receiver can have. But if it’s all you have, you can’t really deliver many knockout blows on your own.
In his rookie year, Hamilton snagged 30 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns. However, the real story is how he progressed as a rookie. Through the first ten games, he had just 5 receptions for 61 yards. Late in the year, he became a starter and ended up showing what he could do. In a four game stretch, Hamilton averaged 6.5 receptions a game for 45 yards. He had both of his touchdown catches in those games.
That kind of late season production is exactly why Football Outsiders views Hamilton has a potential breakout candidate heading into this season.
The honorable mention for the Broncos came on the defensive side of the ball with Josey Jewell as a potential breakout player as well. Jewell figures to be a starter this season under Vic Fangio’s defense. He started nine games during his rookie season and had 58 total tackles.