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Broncos roster review: Receiver Kelvin McKnight

McKnight will try to stand out in a position battle that will prove to be one of the most fascinating this year.

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have no shortage of wide receivers.

As a point of fact, the Broncos have 13 on the current roster.

We know three are locks to make the team — Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. That leaves, at most, three more receiver spots on offense. Perhaps there are two on special teams, though one seems more likely — either as a gunner or returner. Then two or three more could end up on the practice squad.

Put the three locks aside, and let’s say Denver only keeps one for special teams and two on the practice squad, that’s six spots and 10 players.

Welcome to the world of Kelvin McKnight, who enters his second season with the Broncos after his rookie year was spent on the practice squad.

#16 Kelvin McKnight, WR
Age 23. 5’8”, 186 lbs.
College: Samford

The Good

McKnight has been here, done that before and come out on top.

He can use that experience again and build off of it. The other factor that helps McKnight is he can return kicks. In a tight competition, that experience is invaluable.

But it’s safe to say McKnight wants to make Denver’s roster as a receiver. That’s where experience can benefit him in a huge way. It was on Day 8 of Broncos camp last year when, as Andrew Mason described it, McKnight was able to seize the day. If McKnight is able to have consistent performances like that, he’ll make the decision that much tougher.

As Joe Rowles laid out in his roster review on McKnight last year, these traits are still present:

  • Renowned for his route running.
  • Cat quick out of breaks.
  • Strong body awareness.
  • Can make sideline catches.
  • Will make catches outside his frame.
  • Concentration to make catches in traffic.
  • Faster in pads than shorts.
  • Multiple gears.
  • Experienced punt returner.

The Bad

McKnight’s size will do him no favors.

Denver already has one “smaller” receiver in Hamler, do they want another version of that? Granted, shorter, quick receivers bring an added element that makes it tougher for defenses to stop. But do you want two of them?

The weaknesses Joe mentioned last year are just as prevalent this year.

  • Limited catch radius.
  • Straight line speed.
  • Contact balance.
  • Limited big time experience.

Has McKnight taken what he learned on the practice squad last year to make himself a more versatile and complete receiver? Only time will answer that question but it’s the key to whether McKnight cracks the roster over the other receivers he’s competing against.

The fact the Broncos selected Hamler is where McKnight might run into the steepest challenge. Even more than the “too many players and not enough spots” conundrum.

Final Word

The battle at receiver will be one of the most fascinating and hotly contested at this year’s Broncos training camp.

In situations like this, you tend to give the edge to experience. In a competition where there’s not much difference from one guy to the next, who takes advantage of their opportunities will come out on top. When a player is able to show versatility and contribute on special teams, even better.

McKnight was in a similar position in 2019 and earned his way on the practice squad. If he’s able to become a more complete receiver and contribute on special teams, he has a great shot. I would say if McKnight finds his way onto the 2020 Broncos roster, it’s as a returner/special team contributor, though more likely he’s back on the practice squad.

What will help McKnight is his attitude. When asked by Benjamin Allbright last year after his strong showing at camp what the receiver brings to the Broncos that nobody else does, McKnight said:

“A guy that is just very humble, head down,” he said. “Don’t really like to complain. Never like to get complacent. Is just ready to work every day.”