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Broncos roster review: Rookie wide receiver Zimari Manning

Manning was ultra-productive in college, but can he continue that in the NFL against much tougher competition?

Zimari Manning runs for Tarleton State this season. (
Zimari Manning runs for Tarleton State this season. (Photo by Jeremy Enlow, courtesy of Tarleton State)

Name: Zimari Manning
Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6'2" Weight: 200
Age: n/a Experience: R
College: Tarleton State

At the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos continued to bolster their receiving group by signing Tarleton State wide receiver Zimari Manning. This was after the Broncos drafted three wide receivers and signed two more UDFA’s(including Manning) to strengthen their wide receiving group.

He played two seasons at Tartleton State and put up some impressive numbers. During his two seasons, Manning totaled 112 receptions for 2,409 yards and a whopping 34 touchdowns. This past season, Manning caught 68 receptions for 1,462 yards and an impressive 22 touchdowns. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch and averaged 121.8 yards per game as well. He played at a small school but these are impressive number nonetheless.

While at Tarleton State, Manning the school’s record for touchdown passes in 2019 with 22 and was also a Harlon Hill Award finalist in 2019 as well.

Manning will now join a very crowded wide receiver room that includes Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, four rookies including a first and second rounder and others. So the competition will be tough for that final roster spot and potentially even a practice squad spot among these wide receivers.

The Good

Anytime you have 34 touchdown receptions in two seasons and 22 of them in one season, you’re doing right and doing it damn well too. That is what Manning did while at Tarleton State during his two seasons there.

Yes, he did this while playing against DII level talent, but, if you’re going to take a chance on a small school player you want to do it on one that has been ultra-productive like Manning.

From his tape, his athleticism really jumps out at you. He’s explosive, shows good body control, has good speed, a good vertical, and showed some smooth route running and smooth hands as well.

Again, he did this against DII level of talent, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

Another thing Manning has going for him is the money and signing bonus the Broncos gave him. According to reports, the Broncos gave Manning a $12,500 signing bonus which helps his odds of making the roster. 9NEWS Denver’s Mike Klis named Manning in a tweet when discussing which undrafted rookies are the best bet to crack the final roster.

I am anxious to see how he does against NFL level defenders, but he has enough going for him where I think he can make some noise this summer if/when Broncos Training Camp starts up.

Also, wouldn’t suck to see another Manning in a Broncos uniform now would it?

The Bad

The Broncos wide receiver room is a quite crowded one. It includes star wide receiver Courtland Sutton, first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, second-round pick K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, DaeSean Hamilton, Juwaan Winfree, Diontae Spencer, Fred Brown, Kelvin McKnight, Trinity Benson, Kendall Hinton, Zimari Manning, and Tyrie Cleveland.

That’s a total of 13 wide receivers currently fighting for five or six spots on the Broncos’ final roster and the remaining bunch of receivers fighting for a spot on the Broncos practice squad that includes all the other waived players around the league.

That’s a pretty tough battle to come out on top of and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Now, I have to mention the big talent jump Manning is taking from going against DII corners to now NFL level corners. There will be some obvious growing pains there that he will have to deal with. This unfortunately isn’t the offseason built for players like Manning to succeed. With the status of OTA’s and minicamp’s statuses up in the air he’s likely missing out on valuable reps during this time so his opportunities to impress coaches will likely be few and far between until Training Camp.

Hopefully, they can safely figure out a way for these players to get some sort of offseason practices in, but the lack of a normal NFL offseason really hurts a player like Manning. Especially considering the amount of talent and competition he’s up against.

Final Thoughts

Manning is an intriguing small-school player. Highly productive and has the athleticism that can play in the NFL. However, the amount of competition and lack of practice reps this offseason really limits his upside. It’s unfortunate, but the reality of the world right now. It’s unknown if and when these players will be able to hit the practice field.

If Manning can stay healthy and impress some during the summer, I think he’s worthy of a potential Practice Squad spot. There are just too many receivers in front of him to make the final roster but a practice squad spot does seem feasible.

He is one of the underdog players I will be rooting for this summer.