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Broncos roster review: Diontae Spencer

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Spencer’s path to the roster lies in his ability as a returner

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Diontae Spencer
Wide Receiver #11
Experience: 2 years
Height: 5-foot-8
Weight: 170 pounds
Age: 28
College: McNeese State

It’s actually a pretty simple proposition for Diontae Spencer. In Denver, if he is going to make the team it will be as a punt and kick returner.

In 2019 Spencer joined the Broncos after being claimed off waivers on September 1. It turned out to be a smart play, helping to give a little life to an anemic return game. He averaged just 8 yards per return on punts, but 29.1 yards per return on kickoffs.

His play in 2019 made him a Pro Bowl alternate, and it looked like his job was safe heading into the 2020 season, then the 2020 draft. KJ Hamler, the Broncos second round pick, could find himself in a returning role, which may limit the need for Spencer.

The Good

Spencer is a proven returner with a Pro Bowl season under his belt. His experience and ability are the keys to making the return game a weapon for the Broncos.

Watching his highlights, he has the ability to find a seam, and burst through. Field position is a huge aspect of the NFL, and being able to switch field position by making big returns can help the offense, and hurt opposing defenses. Spencer was a key weapon for the Broncos in 2019.

Along with his one season in Denver, Spencer found success as a returner during his time in the CFL. The experience gained in both leagues gives him an advantage. Understanding the speed of the game, and recognizing the tendencies of opposing special teams players can go a long way to making a good kick and punt returner.

The Bad

Unfortunately for Spencer, he is really a one trick pony.

In today’s NFL, the kickoff is drifting into the endangered species territory. If you turn on sports talk radio on a slow day, you might hear them talk about the potential that the NFL could eliminate kickoffs because of player safety issues.

Kicking the ball out of the back of the end zone in Denver is not as difficult in other places, as well. That limits the chances for a returner like Spencer to impact the game.

Then there is the Hamler effect. Don’t slot him into the punt returner position, but he has special speed. Hamler is going to get every opportunity to utilize his unique speed, and returning punts will be a place he could really shine for the Broncos.

As a return specialist, the need for Spencer might not be as great as it was in 2019.

Final Word

Spencer’s chances to make the roster in 2020 are limited by his skill set. He is certainly capable of being a returner in the NFL. His experience gives him a slight advantage. As the NFL enters the unknown world of playing a season surrounded by a pandemic, and rosters are expanded to accommodate the potential need for players, he should be a big enough asset to find a roster spot in Denver.