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Meet the AFC West’s new ‘Legion of Zoom’

After the Kansas City Chiefs’ ‘Legion of Zoom’ terrorized defenses in the AFC West with their speed, it looks like the Denver Broncos now have their own version.

Denver Broncos Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In 2019 and 2020 the Kansas City Chiefs had a very fast wide receiver room featuring Tyreek Hill, one of the fastest players in the NFL, who ran a 4.28 40-yard dash, Mecole Hardman, who ran a 4.33, Sammy Watkins, who ran a 4.43. That legion was very short-lived as Watkins left the Chiefs in 2021 and then Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2022.

After their short-lived reign and terrorizing defenses, a new wide receiver room has emerged as a new possible ‘Legion of Zoom’ with Denver Broncos wide receivers K.J. Hamler, Jalen Virgil, and Montrell Washington.

K.J. Hamler

Hamler was drafted in the second-round by the Broncos in the 2020 NFL Draft from Penn State. From college I could tell Hamler would be an issue with his speed being an Ohio State fan I was able to watch him torch defensive backs. Hamler in college was a deep threat issue for many teams and now with a quarterback in Russell Wilson who is known for being able to throw a really good deep ball. I believe Hamler is set for a career season this year.

Hamler had an impressive rookie year and entered his sophomore season in Mile High with high hopes but unfortunately, Hamler was hit with a season-ending injury early in his campaign.

“He’s very fearless. The guy goes in and none of us really knew how it was going to be. He had a week of practice. I think watching him go out there, he was able to play fast.” Said head coach Nathaniel Hackett after the last preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, “But watching him play fast and being able to take that hit, I think was huge for him. He’s a guy that has not played football in a long time.

Although Hamler couldn’t run the 40-yard dash at his pro day or at the NFL combine, he stated that he ran a 4.27. So assuming that number is correct the Broncos have a very fast guy on their hands

Montrell Washington

Washington was a fifth-round pick by the Broncos in the 2022 NFL draft from Samford, originally Washington was meant to be the kick returner but after camp, with him putting on a show Washington will be more than a kick returner.

Washington has already received high praise from Wilson, “We watched every single receiver. Literally. When I say every single receiver, we watched every single receiver for about a good hour and a half, two hours. We watched every single guy, and then we came across this guy named [WR] Montrell Washington. We looked at each other like, ‘He may be the one.”

Washington did not have many believers in him before the NFL draft, CBS Sports ranked him as the 371st best player and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked him the 70th best wide receiver, but the Broncos knew what they saw in him and took a chance on him.

Washington during camp was finding himself wide open on multiple plays and allowed Wilson to make the easy throw.

Even in college with Samford Washington’s speed was an issue, on the play linked below he turned a simple and short route into a massive touchdown for the Bulldogs.

During the final preseason game, Washington showed his speed on a run play which he took for a touchdown, his first professional touchdown.

Washington was not invited to the NFL combine but did have a pro day with teams where he clocked in at 4.38 but Andrew Harris who is Washington’s best friend from high school and college teammate of Washington’s has stated that he has seen Washington clock in a 40 time of 4.25, which is insane to think about.

Jalen Virgil

The final member of the Broncos’ Legion of Zoom is Jalen Virgil. Virgil went undrafted in the 2022 NFL draft and played his college ball at Appalachian State. He became the newest Bronco to follow a line of undrafted players in making the final 53-man roster.

Virgil, with the Mountaineers, had 98 catches for 1,436 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Virgil’s speed is turning a lot of heads within the Broncos organization, George Paton said, “I think you need speed in this league. [WR Jalen] Virgil obviously provides that. This guy—every game he made plays and he made plays every practice.” Then also Jerry Jeudy had some good things to say about Virgil, “His speed—a lot of speed. [He’s] a huge deep threat guy, making a lot of plays during the preseason games. I’m excited to see him and ready to see him work, too.”

To follow up on what Jeudy and Paton already had to say about Virgil, Coach Hackett also had some good things to say, “He showed throughout the preseason that when the ball was thrown his way, he was going to make an electric catch, and he was going to make a play. In the end, he continually did that. It wasn’t just one game, it was all three games, and he has a lot of speed. It’s always hard to find speed, especially a big strong guy like that.”

Virgil, during a workout with more than 20 teams in attendance, put on the speed boosts by running an unbelievable 4.37. Not bad for a 6-1, 209 pound wide receiver.

When it comes to both rookies Washington and Virgil general manager Paton had to say, “A lot of these kids when they walked in, it was too big. Guys like [him], Montrell [Washington] and [Jalen] Virgil, it’s pretty unique to have these guys just walk in the door and act like they belong.”

Speed, although is not everything in the NFL, is extremely important. I am very interested to see how this faster version of the Chiefs’ Legion of Zoom does during the regular season. Do not forget the names Jalen Virgil, K.J. Hamler, and Montrell Washington as they will cause defensive backs issues, and defensive coaches headaches, with their speed. In my opinion, they will be the names to keep an eye on as I believe they will definitely be impact players on the offense for years to come. This ‘Legion of Zoom’ will last a lot longer than the Chiefs did.