Grading the Denver Broncos’ wide receivers in the 2016 season

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The Denver Broncos offense has some room for improvement in 2017. The Denver offense averaged just 323 yards and 20.8 points per game. Following the departure of not one, but both starting quarterbacks from 2015, the Broncos needed their wide receivers to step up in 2016. With first year quarterback Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch taking every snap at quarterback this season, the wide receiver corps had a chance to lead by example. Instead, they racked up double digits in drops for the season, as a unit. How did the Broncos wide receivers grade out individually for the year?

Demaryius Thomas

Is there a more contrasting player on the Broncos roster than Demaryius Thomas?

At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he is a giant of a receiver, and is more than capable of making spectacular catches. Yet, he is also very apt to drop some of the easiest receptions, and he doesn’t always seem to attack the football like you would expect.

Thomas finished the season with 90 catches for 1,083 yards, ranking him among the best pass catchers in the NFL. Yet, he managed just five touchdowns, and registered seven drops and two fumbles. There is no questioning the talent of the big wideout, but he doesn’t always seem to play to his true potential.

Final grade: B-

Emmanuel Sanders

It is hard to believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed Sanders to walk three years ago, via free agency. They worried they he was too injury prone, and that he didn’t always give his best effort.

Since coming to Denver, Sanders has played through injuries, always giving a gutsy performance. He is unafraid to put his body on the line to make the tough catches, and he attacks the football with the ferocity of a much bigger player.

In 2016, Sanders made 79 catches for 1,032 yards and scored five touchdowns. That probably isn’t as strong as we were hoping, but Sanders is the Broncos most consistent receiver.

Final grade: B

Jordan Norwood

It’s hard to separate the performance of Norwood as a wide receiver, while ignoring his play on special teams. We all remember the struggles that Norwood had returning punts, where he fumbled four time against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.

Unfortunately, Norwood’s play on offense wasn’t a whole lot better. He finished the season with just 21 catches for 232 yards, and a single touchdown. The Broncos definitely need more production from their third wide receiver.

Final grade: D

Jordan Taylor

Taylor spent 2015 year on the Broncos practice squad, working out with Peyton Manning, as Manning tried to recover from various injuries. The experience seemed to help Taylor, who caught 16 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, in his first official season. The Broncos like Taylor’s size at 6’5”, and if he can continue to improve, he may end up being the true third wide receiver on this roster.

Final grade: C+

Bennie Fowler

The undrafted receiver made some big plays in 2015, and has the distinction of catching the final pass of Peyton Manning’s amazing career. This season, Fowler battled an elbow injury that forced him to miss three games completely, and his production fell off in the games he did participate. Fowler had just 11 receptions, for 145 yards, with two touchdowns. He will need a bounce-back season in 2017, or his job will be in jeopardy.

Final grade: D

Cody Latimer

After selection him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Broncos are still waiting for Latimer to prove that the pick wasn’t wasted. In his first two seasons, he had caught just eight passes, but did manage to impress the coaches with his speed, and his willingness to block.

This season (his third), he matched that number, with another eight receptions for 76 yards. At some point the Broncos will need to see some progress from Latimer, and it won’t be a surprise to see them draft a wide receiver this year, to battle for a roster spot.

Final grade: D-

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