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Broncos 2023 training camp preview: Wide receivers

The wide receiver room is one of the bigger storylines the Broncos have coming into the start of training camp

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos' wide receiving room is one of the more intriguing aspects of this team as they head into training camp. We saw two of their starters connected to trade rumors, watched the team trade up to select a wide receiver, an injury to a player on the roster bubble, and a few former Saints join this unit. Now, the Broncos' wide receiver room is the deepest position on the roster and will be an interesting one to watch during training camp.

At wide receiver, the Broncos have expected starters Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick. Behind this starting trio, you have second-round pick Marvin Mims Jr., oft-injured K.J. Hamler, the versatile Kendall Hinton, and return specialist Montrell Washington. Then you have the two former saints, Marquez Callaway and Lil’Jordan Humphrey followed by speedster Jalen Virgil and Brandon Johnson. Rounding out this unit is UDFA slot receiver Taylor Grimes. So, this is a deep unit that could see a few surprise names not make the team.

So, let us take a more in-depth look at the Broncos wide receivers as we head into training camp.

Jerry Jeudy - Wide Receiver - 6-1, 193 pounds

The Broncos' former first-round pick really came into his own late last season. During the final six games, Jeudy totaled 37 receptions for 523 yards and 3 touchdowns. If he continued that pace for all 17 games, he would have totaled 105 receptions for 1,482 yards. Now, with Sean Payton running the Broncos' offense and Jeudy entrenched as the team's number-one receiver, we could see big things from Jeudy this upcoming season.

Before the draft, Jeudy along with fellow wide receiver Courtland Sutton found themselves in the middle of some trade rumors. Ultimately, Payton and the Broncos shot those rumors down, but they persisted throughout the draft. Nothing happened, but it is always something to watch moving forward. After the draft, the Broncos decided to pick up Jeudy’s fifth-year option which will keep him on the team through the 2024 season. So, it does not appear that Jeudy is going anywhere anytime soon.

The expectations are high for Jeudy this season, especially with Sean Payton now running this offense. He has force-fed his number-one receivers in the past and Jeudy is the most dynamic receiver on the roster. He has the speed, explosiveness, and route-running ability to flourish, especially when Payton scheming him open.

One of the things that have been holding Jeudy back during his short career has been injuries. While he has not missed significant time, he has missed a handful of games each season due to injury. If he wants to reach his full potential, we need to see Jeudy stay healthy and avoid suffering the ankle injuries he has suffered the past few seasons. If he can do that, it could be a very big season for the Broncos' dynamic receiver.

Courtland Sutton - Wide Receiver - 6-4, 216 pounds

Like Jeudy, Sutton saw himself in the middle of some trade rumors this offseason. One report even indicated that he was nearly dealt to the Baltimore Ravens before they signed veteran Odell Beckham. As we know, he never ended up being traded and appears to be penciled in as one of the Broncos' starting receivers this upcoming season.

Unlike Jeudy, Sutton is not coming off a strong finish to his season and now has had back-to-back mediocre seasons for the Broncos. After 2019, Sutton appeared to be on his way to being the Broncos' top receiver, but an ACL tear in 2020 derailed that and he has not looked the same since. In his defense, he has been a part of some bad offenses and below average quarterback since then, so that likely had some impact on his play as well. Now with Sean Payton running this team, it will be interesting to see how Sutton is used and if he has a bounce-back season.

While this might not be a popular statement, I think we should still keep an eye on the Sutton trade rumors. If an injury happens or a team is not happy with their room, they could contact the Broncos about a possible trade. If we see Tim Patrick or rookie Marvin Mims Jr. impress during camp and the preseason, that could also ignite some talks. I am not saying it will happen, but just something to keep an eye on.

Tim Patrick - Wide Receiver 6-4, 212 pounds

Tim Patrick entered camp last year with some hype as a noticeable connection between him and quarterback Russell Wilson was forming. The two were on the same page and looked to be on the verge of a big season, but that all ended before the season started. Patrick ended up tearing his ACL during a training camp and ending his season before it even started.

Now, with Patrick working his way back to 100%, the hype surrounding him has picked up once again. NFL Network’s James Palmer reported that he has had multiple people tell him that Tim Patrick is the best receiver in that room.

If that is the belief inside the Broncos headquarters and Patrick is fully healthy, it will be interesting to see what his role in this offense will be. He is a big receiver who catches everything, can be a downfield threat as well as help out in the run game as a blocker. I would not be surprised to see Patrick end up as the Broncos' number two receiver this upcoming season.

These sorts of reports add more fuel to the fire when it comes to the Courtland Sutton trade rumors. They have similar skill sets and profiles and if one is viewed more highly than the other, the other could be the odd man out in the battle. Not saying that will happen, but just something to keep an eye on as we progress through camp.

As for Patrick, reports indicated that he was cleared “to do everything” ahead of OTA/minicamp practices which is obviously promising news. If he looks like his former self during camp, the hype train will continue to take off.

Marvin Mims Jr. - Wide Receiver - 5-11, 182 pounds

Heading into the draft, a wide receiver was not viewed as a big need for the Broncos, but head coach Sean Payton disagreed. Not only did they select a wide receiver with their first pick in the draft, they trade up to make sure they got their guy. With their 63rd overall selection in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos selected Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr.

He joins the Broncos' receiving room and gives them a much-needed deep threat and a player who could be an instant contributor for the team this upcoming season.

After the draft, Payton referred to Mims Jr. as an elite punt returner, so I think we will see him in that role early in the season. As for his receiving role, I think he will be a situational deep threat who could see his role grow throughout the season. Clearly, Payton thinks highly of him and I doubt they would trade up to get a guy if they did not have a plan for him.

With Payton creating an offense that fits quarterback Russell Wilson’s strengths, I think we could see Mims play a key role in that offense. He is the team's best deep threat and likely will be tasked to chase down Wilson’s deep balls which have been his trademark throughout his career.

Mims is one of the players I am most excited to see during camp. He is really talented and explosive and could be on the verge of having a breakout performance during these practices. He will be facing the Broncos' second and third-team corners, so I expect that we will hear his name early and often. If he does have a strong camp and preseason, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact that could have on this roster.

K.J. Hamler - Wide Receiver - 5-9, 178 pounds

The oft-injured former second-round pick finds himself rehabbing yet another injury as we head into training camp. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle early in the offseason but is expected to be healthy for the start of camp. However, missing the offseason practices could be costly for Hamler.

Right now, I believe Hamler is firmly on the roster bubble as we head into camp and is probably on the outside looking in currently. He has missed so much time due to injury during his career and cannot be trusted to be available for the entirety of the regular season. On top of all that, the Broncos under new leadership drafted a receiver who effectively replaces his role on this team. So, Hamler facing some tough odds when it comes to making this team.

A strong summer by Hamler would be nice to see, but even then, I am not sure he makes the team. He seems like a player who could be traded during the cut-down period (if he plays well and stays healthy) or just simply cut. It is rough but it is likely the reality of the situation here.

Montrell Washington - Wide Receiver - 5-10, 170 pounds

After the Broncos spent a fifth-round draft pick on Washington during the 2022 draft, the team faced some criticism for spending a pick on a return specialist. However, Washington quieted those critics and became one of the stars of training camp last season. Unfortunately for Washington and the Broncos, that was likely the highlight of his rookie season.

Washington did very little as a receiver and was ineffective as a returner which was his supposed strength. Now with Sean Payton running the team and Broncos putting an emphasis on improving the special teams unit, Washington is also on the roster bubble.

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Like Hamler, the Broncos trading up for Marvin Mims Jr. in the draft put his roster spot in danger. Payton called him an elite punt returner and Mims is a better receiver than Washington. So, this likely bumps Washington off the 53-man roster.

Washington will need to prove himself as a receiver as well as a return man during camp and the preseason if he wants to make the roster. I am not confident that will happen but we shall see if the second-year wide receiver can prove the doubters wrong and earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

Marquez Callaway - Wide Receiver - 6-2, 204 pounds

Late in free agency, the Broncos went out and brought in a former Saints player who was productive for Sean Payton during his time there. The Broncos signed veteran wide receiver Marquez Callaway to bolster their already deep receiving unit.

In 2021, during Payton’s final season with the Saints, Callaway saw 84 targets and caught 46 balls for 698 yards and 6 touchdowns. The following season, Callaway fell out of favor with the Saints coaches and is now looking to have a bounce-back season now that he is reunited with Payton in Denver.

With his connections to Payton, I believe Callaway has a good shot at making the 53-man roster. He has proven to be effective under Payton, knows his offense and terminology, and could serve as an excellent depth piece for this unit.

I believe Callaway makes the roster and is the nail in the coffin for players like K.J. Hamler and possibly Montrell Washington.

Kendall Hinton - Wide Receiver - 6-0, 195 pounds

The versatile Kendall Hinton who played quarterback against Sean Payton and the Saints in 2020 faces some long odds to make this team. He is buried on the depth chart, saw a rookie get drafted again this season at the position, is behind some players who are connected to the coach, and has spent his career on and off the roster.

With all that said, Hinton has stuck around for multiple seasons now and has produced when given the opportunity. So, he will most certainly fight for a roster spot, but I just do not see it happening this year.

Lil Jordan Humphrey - Wide Receiver - 6-4, 225 pounds

The former Saints and Patriots wide receiver/tight end signed with the Broncos early in the offseason and is now looking to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. In 2021, under Payton, Humphrey saw 18 targets and caught 13 balls for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns. He signed with the Patriots last season and played in 6 games for them at receiver and tight end, but was ultimately let go by them in the middle of the season.

Humphrey faces some tough odds when it comes to making the team, but it is possible he could latch on if he contributes to special teams. Payton knows how to use him and has used him in the past in a reserve role, so he is an interesting player to watch this summer.

Jalen Virgil - Wide Receiver - 6-1, 210 pounds

The explosive wide receiver made the roster last season as an undrafted free agent which was a bit of a surprise. He did have a good preseason and showcased his blend of size and speed throughout camp and the preseason. However, he did not contribute much during the regular season, except for one big play when the Broncos faced the Titans. The Titans' defense blew the coverage which left Virgil wide open and he took it all the way to the end zone. Outside of that one reception, he only caught one other ball and saw just five targets.

Denver Broncos v Tennessee Titans Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

It is interesting to see where Virgil fits in with this offense. He has good size and good speed which helped him make the roster last year. However, the team added new talent and Tim Patrick is back and healthy, so he faces some stiff competition. Add in a new coaching staff who did not pick Virgil, and you can see why it may be hard for him to make the 53-man roster.

With that said, I think he could play his way into a roster spot, or at least a practice squad spot. He is one of the few burners on the roster, and if he can show he can consistently make plays downfield, he could elevate himself on the depth chart. He is an interesting player to watch during these coming weeks,

Brandon Johnson - Wide Receiver - 6-2, 195 pounds

The undrafted rookie last year was earning a lot of hype and appeared to be on the way to securing a roster spot before an injury derailed everything. Now, he enters his second season and is looking to push for a roster spot for a second straight year, but this time, facing more competition.

Much like Jalen Virgil, Brandon Johnson faces tougher competition than the competition he faced last season. Tim Patrick is back, they just drafted Marvin Mims and brought in two former Saints with ties to head coach Sean Payton. So, Johnson who had ties to the former staff is likely on the outside looking in as we head into camp.

However, Johnson did build good chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson during camp last year so, if that continues, he could crack the final spot or two on the roster. Like Virgil, he will need to play his way onto the roster and I am anxious to see what he can do this summer.

Taylor Grimes - Wide Receiver - 5-11, 188 pounds

The Denver Broncos dipped into the FCS waters and signed Incarnate Word wide receiver Taylor Grimes as an undrafted free agent. He projects strictly as a slot receiver since he has below-average athleticism but does have some short-area quickness.

To be realistic, he has zero shot at making the 53-man roster and even a practice squad spot seems questionable. His lack of athleticism could make it hard for him to separate consistently, but I am curious to see how he looks in the slot. How he handles the elevated talent will be interesting too. He is going from facing little to no NFL talent on a regular basis to competing in an NFL camp for a spot on the team.

He has a shot to be that underdog player who becomes a fan favorite for a short time during the preseason after he makes a few plays or is consistently the first player on the field for training camp practices. So, keep an eye out here for Grimes to potentially be an underdog player who stands out.