Broncos could lead the league in broken tackles thanks to dynamic receivers

Courtland Sutton runs through a tackle. Credit: Mark Konezny, USA TODAY Sports.
Courtland Sutton runs through a tackle. Credit: Mark Konezny, USA TODAY Sports.

Everyone’s excited about what the Broncos offense could bring to the table this fall. And, rightfully so.

John Elway and Co. constructed a should-be explosive offense this offseason, capping off a lot of wonderful work the last few years.

2019 was a breakout season for Courtland Sutton, who’s blossomed into a star while making highlight reel-worthy catches. He eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time last year, and totaled six touchdowns, but his most impressive stat was leading the league in broken tackles for a wide receiver.

Sutton’s 12 broken tackles were the most by a wideout by far, with multiple receivers tied at 9. At 6’4″ and 216 pounds, there’s no wonder why he’s difficult to bring down, adding to his acrobatic abilities when catching the ball. Simply, Sutton’s got it all; the size, speed and superb hands. If he continues on this current trajectory, he could be the Broncos’ new-age version of Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.

But the broken tackles won’t end there for Denver this year.

Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos’ first-round pick and steal at No. 15 overall, was second-best in college football last year with a shocking 26 broken tackles. There are multiple reasons why Jeudy was considered the best receiver in the 2020 draft class, and the ability to avoid going down at first contact is something special.

Beyond that, he’s the most polished route-runner of all the current rookies, and he not only knows how to separate from defenders but make big plays once he’s open. Per Pro Football Focus, his 53 explosive plays (15+ yards) with a step of separation were eight more than any other FBS player over the last two years.

Just Jeudy and Sutton would still be a dynamic duo of receivers for second-year quarterback Drew Lock, but the playmaking continues down the line.

Phillip Lindsay, who became the first Broncos running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in back-to-back seasons since Clinton Portis in 2002-03, was tied for third-most broken tackles on the ground last year with 29.

What makes Lindsay special is his fearlessness when hitting the hole, running like a bat out of Hell and getting past defenders in a cloud of dust. Sometimes those linemen and even linebackers can only get a hand on him before he continues down field, likely leading to the high total.

On down the list we go to new running back Melvin Gordon, who enjoyed eight broken tackles both through the air and on the ground. Gordon’s pass-catching ability will make him a threat though the air, and if new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur uses the two well together, the Broncos running backs will be extremely difficult to corral.

All those broken tackles in 2020 will lead to extra yards, and if the Broncos are lucky, more touchdowns, too. Plus, it gives the entire team a boost, and some extra juice when they see their teammates truck through defenders.

2018 was a special draft because it brought on board Sutton in the second round and Lindsay as an undrafted free agent. Then, 2019 meant bringing on board tight end Noah Fant and Lock. This year, with Jeudy in the first and speedy slot man K.J. Hamler in the second round, as well as the addition of Gordon and tight end Nick Vannett, the Broncos are poised to be deadly on offense.

In fact, this may be the most talented collection of players on Denver’s offense since 2013, the greatest offense in the history of the NFL. Lock is an exciting, athletic talent himself, and now he has a bevy of talent almost any other quarterback would drool over.

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