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An exciting camp battle will be shaping up at tight end

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Finally this position could be interesting in the Broncos’ offense.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Hopefully your Fourth of July celebrations were fun and safe, and now you’re ready to talk some ...

Tour de France? (just kidding, though many of you know I’m a huge fan of that event).

How about U.S. women’s soccer because they are ROCKING it!?!

Nah, let’s talk football. The doldrums of the offseason will be coming to a close soon (yay!) so it’s time to look toward some of the position battles shaping up that will be interesting to watch - as Tim, Jess and I did on our “Something Something Broncos” podcast this week (where, I also sang a little “Old Town Road” for ya - for which you’re welcome):

While many of the position battles will be players fighting for the third or fourth (or fifth) spot on the 53-man roster - or possibly aiming for the practice squad - the position that boasts the Broncos first-round draft pick will mean a battle for the top spot.

By all accounts, the Broncos improved tremendously at that position when they picked Noah Fant, tight end out of Iowa, as the 20th overall pick in the 2019 draft.

And given that the Broncos’ new quarterback Joe Flacco is a big fan of his tight ends, having a strong TE corps is going to be key to a successful Broncos’ offense.

So let’s look at the players in the running:

Noah Fant

Scotty Payne noted in his roster review that Fant should be an immediate “impact weapon” for Flacco and the Broncos’ offense partially because he is just a freaky good athletic player with size and speed. He is faster that many running backs on the field, and hovering at 6-foot-4, he will be a formidable target for any defender to bring down.

Coach Vic Fangio said after the draft that Fant was one of the first guys he watched on film.

“Obviously he can run. That was the first thing that jumps out at you,” Fangio said. “He’s a competitive blocker also, which is part of his job description being a tight end. We don’t feel that he’s just a ‘move’ tight end or an off-the-ball tight end. He can play on the line of scrimmage also. That was important to us also.”

Even “Madden NFL 20” likes the rookie - particularly for his athleticism - giving him a 93 in jumping, 91 in acceleration, 89 in speed. Not that we care what a video game thinks, of course.

Jeff Heuerman

Heading into camp, previous starter Jeff Heuerman will likely be the penciled-in starter just because of experience, but once Fant gets up to speed on the offense and playing against NFL defenses, I don’t see any reason why he doesn’t overtake that No. 1 spot.

Although Heuerman finally started showing last season why he was drafted, having to exit the field early every season due to injury has not helped him. The Broncos re-signed him earlier this spring, primarily as insurance and a hope that this will be the season he stays healthy enough to have a more lasting impact.

Heuerman was having his best statistical season last year before getting injured, logging 31 catches, 281 yards, and two touchdowns. His breakout game in 2018 came against the Texans, where he caught 10 of 11 targets and nabbed a touchdown.

Jake Butt

Coming off a third ACL injury, Jake Butt just needs to prove he can stay on the field long enough to get some stats. He made his NFL debut last season, starting the first three games and catching eight of his 13 targets for 85 yards. But another ACL injury during practice took him out for the year once again, and now he’s planning to return by training camp.

If he can prove to the be talented tight end he was projected to be - and can stay healthy - he could easily compete for that second spot.

Troy Fumagali

Tight ends in Denver have spent more time in training room than on the field as the third returning tight end and a 2018 draft pick Troy Fumagalli will be fighting for another chance to show why he was drafted.

Fumagalli gained about 10 pounds of muscle while working back to full strength last season, and he believes this will help him this season.

“I think I really needed this time. I think it was a blessing for me, looking back on it,” Fumagalli said in January. “I’m just fortunate that Elway and everybody else gave me the chance to grow and learn this year, and I’ll be ready to go next year.”

Camp battle

This position is the one I’m most excited to watch, not just because it has our first-round draft pick but also because it has been such a bust of a position for the Broncos for years. Owen Daniels gave the team a lift for one year - and it was a good year given that he was a big part of the playoff run for the SB 50 win - but the position needs consistency, and with the Rich Scangarello offense, it’s also going to need players with some toughness.

The most likely depth chart order will be Heuerman, Fant, Butt to start the season since Heuerman is the veteran, but if Fant gets up to NFL speed quickly, I bet he’s the top of the depth chart within the first few games.

Poll

Which Broncos’ TE will be top of the depth chart for Week 1?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Noah Fant
    (1113 votes)
  • 29%
    Jeff Heuerman
    (503 votes)
  • 5%
    Jake Butt
    (100 votes)
1716 votes total Vote Now

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