In my offseason roster reviews, I have covered what the Denver Broncos have at the quarterback and running back positions. Now it’s time to shift focus and take a glance at what the Broncos have in their wide receiver corps.
On paper, this looks to be the deepest crop of receivers the franchise has ever had. But the biggest concerns recently have been surrounding this unit’s health—which has been decimated by injuries for the past several seasons. There is no doubt that if they can stay healthy for the upcoming 2023, that they will be a big problem for defensive coordinators to attempt to cover on a weekly basis.
The Top Trio
Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy
In an alternate universe somewhere, the Broncos’ trio of Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, and Jerry Jeudy balled out and were free of injury last season. But reality was quite different, with Patrick being lost for the year before the season started and both Sutton and Jeudy struggling to hit their stride at various points in 2022.
Thankfully, that’s all in the past. Now it’s time to look toward the future and think about their 2023 endeavors. I’m incredibly excited about the potential these three have as a trio for the upcoming season.
This Broncos incarnate reminds me of what Payton had offensively at the position in 2016 with the New Orleans Saints. That year they had Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, and Willie Snead all hit over 100 targets in their offense. They all produced well and helped the Saints have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, but only finished with a 7-9 record.
There’s no chance Russell Wilson throws the ball 673 times this year like Drew Brees did for the Saints in 2016, but I think 525 attempts (or a little more) is realistic. That might not be enough to spread the ball around for 100 targets each, but it could be very close. Overall, the look and feel of the offense should be quite similar.
If I had to place a bet on which of these players is destined to have the best year, Jeudy would be my bet. He has some explosive traits the other two lack and will be a chess piece to move inside and out in Payton’s offense. I’d be shocked if he didn’t have the best season of his career in Denver’s new offense and reap the benefits of playing in a new system. If all goes well, he should be a Top 10 producing receiver league-wide.
1. Jerry Jeudy remains the most gifted separator in the game— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) May 24, 2023
2. AJ Green has declined into N'Keal Harry. https://t.co/J13OC1Ei8U
The Rookie X-Factor
Marvin Mims, Jr.
While the Broncos have significant financial investments in the aforementioned trio of receivers, that didn’t stop Sean Payton and George Paton from trading up into the second-round of the 2023 NFL Draft to select Oklahoma Sooners standout Marvin Mims.
Wide receiver is a position where it takes some time for most players to hit their stride, but Mims’ world-class speed and ball-tracking ability are going to get him reps immediately as a rookie. When I look at players Payton has developed in the past, his talents and capabilities are very similar to Brandin Cooks.
With a logjam of receivers on the roster, I don’t know how many targets we can expect Mims to get. However, I have no doubts Payton will be spending a lot of time drawing up plays to feature his abilities and peel the top off the back-end of NFL defenses. That’s what you do with dynamic playmakers and it’s definitely a reason Payton wanted him in the fold.
Can you imagine four wide receiver sets with Patrick, Sutton, Jeudy, and Mims all on the field at the same time? Whew! Good luck to the rest of the NFL. I’d also believe he is going to see some action as a returner on punts and kicks this year too, which only adds to his overall value.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the Broncos utilize him and think he is going to be a very good player in this league. And for whatever it’s worth, I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually became Denver’s feature receiver in 2024, pending what happens with their top-paid core after the 2023 season is over.
The Forgotten Second Round Selection
It’s now or never for K.J. Hamler. After being picked in the second-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Hamler’s career has been decimated due to constant injuries. It’s a sad and unfortunate reality, but I think it’s safe to say his selection has proven to be a bust and a poor use of early draft capital.
But perhaps the 2023 season can offer some redemption for the former Penn State standout. He is still extremely talented and possesses top-tier speed, but appears to be on the outside looking in and at best would be the fifth option in the Broncos’ aerial attack.
It’s hard for me to see the Broncos cutting him, but I think it’s fair to say he isn’t a sure-fire bet to make the final roster. He will have to stay healthy and prove himself in camp. Perhaps he could be flipped for a Day 3 pick while teams are finalizing their rosters. However, I’d like to see Denver give him one more chance to make some sort of impact before his rookie contract expires at season’s end. Though I would completely understand if they decide to move on from him.
Montrell Washington, Jalen Virgil, Kendall Hinton, Brandon Johnson, Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and Taylor Grimes are the other six receivers vying for an opportunity to make Denver’s squad. If the Broncos go with six wide receivers, there is no doubt the biggest factor in deciding who makes the team is what they offer on special teams.
That’s why Washington was drafted last year, but he didn’t impress at all. Hinton’s been a reliable guy who made the most of his limited opportunities when others were injured. Virgil is incredibly fast and offers return ability as well. The others seem more like practice squad material.
At any rate, this just goes to show how incredible Denver’s depth is at the position. Several of these guys are going to get cut and I wouldn’t be surprised if half of them made final rosters for another team. And the ones that don’t? Bring them back to the practice squad and let them keep on developing.
Hart’s Position Group Grade: A
The Broncos’ wide receiver room is the deepest position on the roster. Moreover, I strongly believe it has a chance to be one of the best units in the NFL. There is just too much talent for underperformance and failure.
We just have to hope they stay healthy and Russell Wilson is able to revert to prior form. If that happens, the sky is the limit. That being said, it will be interesting to watch how it plays out. In my eyes, it’s hard to think Denver ends up keeping their top trio intact for the 2024 season. Trade rumors were prevalent all off-season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come up again down the road.
If it is indeed their Last Ride together, cheers to it being a good one.