This is the NFL offseason, the time between OTAs and training camp, when players flee to exotic landscapes for one last vacation before the hard work continues, and when fans hope and pray they don’t see their favorite player’s name and “arrested” in the same sentence.

We often say that the NFL season never stops, and that’s mostly true, but if it ever did, it would be during these few weeks in June and July.

Fortunately, that gives us some time to regroup, take stock of the Broncos’ draft and free agent class, and look forward to training camp. In the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing positional previews three times a week in preparation for the franchise’s run towards a fourth championship.

With one of the best duos in the league, the Broncos wide receiving corps is set on top, but has plenty of question marks outside of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Although the Broncos didn’t add a receiver in the offseason, there is plenty of competition and uncertainty heading into training camp.

Projected Depth Chart:


Demaryius Thomas
Emmanuel Sanders


Jordan Norwood
Cody Latimer
Bennie Fowler
Jordan Taylor


Bralon Addison

Mose Frazier

Durron Neal

DeVier Posey

Kalif Raymond

Biggest Question: Will the Broncos find a stable third wide receiver?

There is no question that the top two wide receivers are set, Thomas and Sanders, but after that the door is wide open. There are four players competing for the third receiver position, and none of them have a significant lead on the job.

For the past six years, the Broncos have had very good No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers, but since Wes Welker left after the 2014 season, the Broncos were unable to find a solid third wide receiver. There were many players that had opportunities to play the slot receiver — Andre Caldwell (no longer with the team), Jordan Norwood, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler.

This year, Norwood, Latimer and Fowler will all have a fair shot to take over this position, along with Jordan Taylor.

In his first season with the Broncos last year, Norwood showed that he has the ideal shiftiness and quickness to play the slot position. However, he also showed that he has the potential to be the Broncos primary punt returner, which earned him a contract extension after the season.

After being a star in training camp the past two years, Latimer did relatively nothing during his first two NFL seasons. Whether he didn’t know the playbook or couldn’t get on the same page with Peyton Manning, the fact that he could barely get on the field raises many questions with Latimer. There is no doubt that this is his most important season.

As a second round pick, Latimer has the potential to be a very good No. 3 receiver, but the biggest question is can he perform as well in a game as he does in practice? That remains to be seen.

Fowler emerged late last season after spending his first year on the practice squad, showing major promise down the stretch and earning the trust of Manning, which is no easy task. However, during OTAs this year, Fowler dropped a ton of easy passes — far more than anyone else. In a tight competition, drops will come back to hurt him if he continues this in training camp.

While the Broncos have many potential options at the third wide receiver position, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will find a good No. 3 option. It would be ideal for the coaching staff if one player had a dominant training camp and took over the spot; however, with four competitors, it’s most likely that the Broncos will go into the season with uncertainty in the depth chart.

Most-Important Player: Demaryius Thomas

Now that the Gary Kubiak offense will be in full effect during the 2016 season, the long ball will be absolutely crucial. The two most important components of Kubiak’s offense are the running game and the deep-passing game. Thomas is unquestionably the biggest down-field threat for the Broncos, with his rare combination of size and speed.

If the Broncos want this new offensive scheme to succeed, Thomas will need to step up big this year. Even during a down year last year, Thomas still showed he had what it takes to be one of the best receivers in the game, catching 105 passes for 1,304 yards. While his touchdowns were down, only six, and he had a case of the drops, he still had a great statistical season with very poor quarterback play.

Thomas will most likely have fewer targets, but his impact could be larger next season with how often he could be targeted down the field. If Thomas is able to establish himself as a reliable deep threat, this offense has a chance to be significantly better than people think.

Surprise Player: Jordan Taylor

While Taylor has received a good deal more press than most practice squad rookies, he’s still very much a sleeper going into the 2016 season.

Nicknamed “Sunshine” for his long-flowing blonde hair, Taylor impressed during OTAs. Specifically, in one practice, when Taylor connected with Mark Sanchez, the No. 1 quarterback, three to four different times. If Taylor can build a connection with Sanchez, or whomever will be the starting quarterback, then he will have a legitimate shot at earning a spot on the team as well as significant playing time.

At 6-foot-5, Taylor’s length allows him to make plays that many other receivers on the team simply can’t. There’s a chance that Taylor could end up back on the practice squad for this season, but there is also the chance that he ends up as the third receiver on the team if he continues at the pace he is at now.

Grade: A-

Even with so much uncertainty at the No. 3 receiver position, the Broncos top two receivers are too good to not give this group a top rating. After seeing and talking to Thomas during OTAs, it really seems like he is in a better place this year, both mentally and physically, and will have a bounce back season.

While finding a No. 3 receiver will be important, this position will not be as important in the new offense as it was in Manning’s pass heavy offense. The Broncos don’t need to find an elite No. 3 receiver; they just need consistency when called upon.

In a relatively unknown offense, the Broncos wide receivers are by far the greatest strength. Even if their numbers as a group are down from last season, they can still have just as meaningful of an impact this year, if not more.