Name: LeVante Bellamy
Position: Running Back
Height: 5'9" Weight: 192
Age: 23 Experience: R
College: Western Michigan
At the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos addressed their running back position by signing undrafted rookie LeVante Bellamy to a contract. Like every undrafted rookie, the road to a roster spot is long, but the Western Michigan product has the talent and ability to crack the Broncos final roster.
Bellamy played a total of four seasons with Western Michigan and was pretty productive during his four season with the team. During his four years, he totaled 617 carries for 3,720 yards and 35 career rushing touchdowns. He also averaged a very solid 6.0 yards per carry. He also added 57 receptions for 370 yards and 1 touchdown,
Now, this past season for Western Michigan, Bellamy had a breakout year for the Broncos, He totaled 266 rushes for 1,472 yards and a whopping 23 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and added 15 receptions for 55 yards to his resume as well.
That’s a very productive season. Hard to imagine why he went undrafted.
Here’s what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had to say about LeVante Bellamy in his annual Draft Guide.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Western Michigan, Bellamy was the lead running back in head coach Tim Lester’s offense. After a productive junior season, he put together an impressive senior campaign, ranking in the top 10 in the FBS in rushing yards and finishing his career fourth in WMU history in rushing yards. Bellamy has the field acceleration to erase pursuit and stick his foot in the dirt, exploding away from trouble. Due to his limitations, he is somewhat of a specialty runner who can be a luxury to a backfield if proves his value on special teams. Overall, Bellamy doesn’t have the desired body armor, run strength or blocking chops by NFL standards, but his top-end speed and athletic traits make him a big-play threat whenever he touches the football, giving him a fighting chance.
Bellamy will now join a talented Denver Broncos running back room that includes a former undrafted rookie in Phillip Lindsay and big free-agent acquisition, Melvin Gordon. Those two will be your main two starters at running back for the Broncos this upcoming season. Rounding out the group is former Broncos third-round pick Royce Freeman and the speedy Khalfani Muhammad.
Anytime you can rush for 23 rushing touchdowns in a season it is an impressive accomplishment and that is exactly what Bellamy did this past season for the Western Michigan Broncos. He also rushed for an impressive 1,472 yards and showcased his explosive play throughout his time with the team.
Having a nose for the end zone while also having explosive speed and play-making ability will greatly increase the odds of any undrafted rookie running back making the final roster. What also helps Bellamy’s odds of making the roster is the amount of money and guaranteed money the team spent on him when they signed him to an undrafted free agent contract. According to 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis, Bellamy was the Broncos’ highest-paid UDFA addition this offseason with them giving him a $25,000 signing bonus and $35,000 in guaranteed money.
Signing bonuses for all 7 Broncos undrafted rooks:— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) May 11, 2020
LeVante Bellamy RB: $25,000 SB+$35K guar salary
Essang Bassey CB: $20K SB
Zimari Manning WR: $12.5K SB
Kendall Hilton, WR: $10K SB+$5K guar sal
Riley Neal QB: $8K SB
Douglas Coleman, S: $5K SB
Hunter Watts OT: $3K SB#9sports
Bellamy’s best trait is his top-end speed. He can house it at any moment if given the opportunity and is equally dangerous in space. He has extensive experience in a zone-blocking scheme which really benefits him here in Denver and just has the play-making ability to crack the team’s final roster.
His upside in the NFL is likely as a third-down/change of pace/potential return man/gadget type player if used correctly. His size will limit him a bit, but as I said, he’s best used in space and if you can get creative, he can be a dangerous weapon for an offense.
Add in his talent, college production, being a touchdown monster last season, his speed and explosiveness, and the amount of money/guaranteed money the Broncos gave him, you can see him totally cracking the teams final roster
His size is the big thing here.
At 5’9”, 192 lbs you’re going to be limited as a running back in the NFL. It’s simple as that. You will need to find a niche as a third-down back, pass-catching back, return man and so on to stick around in this league because backs like this are often a dime-a-dozen these days.
He can’t be a consistent inside rusher in the NFL. I know someone in the comments will say “Well, Phillip Lindsay is doing just fine despite being undersized”, and that is 100% correct. However, that’s a bit of a rare exception to the norm and would be some unrealistic expectations on Bellamy.
He was never really utilized in the passing game at Western MIchigan so he will need to prove that he can do that. A undersized/speedy running back needs to be good in this area if he wants to make the final roster. Also, he has limited returner experience and back of the roster players like Bellamy need to contribute on special teams, so this will be another area where he will need to prove himself this summer.
Bellamy along with Bassey appears to have the best shots of making the Broncos final roster this summer. They appear to be the most talented UDFA’s of the bunch and both received high-end UDFA money from the Broncos which means they think they could potentially stick around as well.
Financial commitment = Belief
Unless the Broncos move on from Royce Freeman sometime between now and the start of the season, Bellamy will be fighting to see if he’s worth keeping around as a fourth running back. This will mean he’ll need to show well as a pass catcher and likely contribute in the return game to make the final roster. Now, injuries always play a role here so if anything were to happen to Phillip Lindsay, Bellamy’s skill set matches Lindsay’s a bit and could be viewed as a potential backup for him.
I really like Bellamy’s game and his tape is full of highlight-reel plays, big runs, and plays where he showcases his speed. The Broncos targeted players like this heavily in the draft(specifically at wide receiver) and Bellamy continued that trend at running back.
If the Broncos offense is going to be creative in giving all these speedy playmakers chances to make plays in the open field, then a player like Bellamy could easily find a role in this offense. He faces a tough road ahead, but at the very least, I see him sticking around as a practice squad addition for the Broncos this season.