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Three receivers I suspect the Broncos are high on

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Three prospects who’d look awful good in orange and blue.

Washington State v Arizona State
If the Broncos miss on Ruggs, it won’t be the worst thing.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Maybe it’s because I’ve been digging into the NFL draft since the 2019 Broncos fell to 0-4. Perhaps it’s because the lack of NBA and MLB seasons. It definitely could all of the mock draft simulators cropping up over the past year.

Whatever it is, I think we’ve reached a point in the pre-Draft cycle where everyone knows the big names. If you haven’t heard about Henry Ruggs, Isaiah Simmons, or Tristan Wirfs by this point it seems pretty unlikely you’re reading this piece. So today, I wanted to take a second to look beyond the big names to guys who look like better fits for the Broncos offense than their getting credit for.

1. Brandon Aiyuk - Arizona State

In a normal draft year, this Sun Devil would be getting buzz as a WR2 or maybe WR3. He’s a screen and deep ball threat who combines a ridiculous wingspan with the ability to turn any inch of space into an explosive play. Unlike many of the speed guys in this class, Aiyuk possesses a rare ability to accelerate out of his cuts, which makes him a better separator than his 4.5 40-yard dash at the Combine hints at.

While he’s still improving as a route runner and needs to get better against physical press coverage, he has the tools to find an immediate fit on the roster as an option for returns while he pitches in as an inside/outside receiver.

Aiyuk combines stop/start acceleration and the willingness to go up and battle for jump balls.

2. Jalen Reagor - TCU

There was a moment in time when I was trying to keep a lid on the Reagor hype because all of the speculation that he’d be the guy at 15 if Ruggs wasn’t available. All of that talk died with a surprising Combine performance where he put up closer 40 times to Aiyuk than Henry Ruggs. What’s been interesting in the days since is how most accepted that Reagor probably put on extra bulk that sapped some of his speed, but didn’t bring him back up the boards.

I’m here to say that I’ve watched more Reagor than every other receiver in this class and while I’m a bit anxious about his body catches, he has all of the tools people are salivating over Ruggs for. He’s a wickedly explosive athlete who offers the same kind of start/stop acceleration on his best plays. I suspect he’ll need time to get better at route running and a concentration drop here and there may pepper his tape, but he should be an early contributor as an explosive gadget player with a long term role as a Z-receiver.

Reagor's a hand in glove fit for what Broncos' Country wants in a receiver prospect.
Reagor’s a hand in glove fit for what Broncos’ Country wants in a receiver prospect.
Joe Rowles

3. John Hightower - Boise State

A few weeks ago I wrote a profile for Gabriel Davis out of UCF, and a couple of the his key traits that probably drew Denver to him at the NFL Combine also apply to Hightower. Both are tall, toolsy prospects from outside of the blue blood college football powers that could contribute early on as slot fade threats and vertical burners. It’s easy to overlook how valuable that is because all of the talk has focused on the big three receivers, but look no further than what Pat Shurmur did with Darius Slayton in 2019.

If the Broncos miss on a speed receiver early in the draft or take someone like LSU’s Justin Jefferson or USC’s Michael Pittman, it would make a ton of sense for them to circle back for a Davis or Hightower type on Day 3.

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