Few, if any teams in the NFL have a tight-end room with the jaw-dropping athletic gifts that litter Denver’s unit.

Unfortunately, those immense talents have been misutilized over past seasons, leading to them being unable to live up to expectations and largely disappointing, but there is reason to believe the 2022 season should be much better.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of the tight ends on Denver’s roster, how they performed in 2021, and what our expectations should be for them in 2022 and beyond.

Noah Fant

Few players on the Broncos roster stand to benefit more from the hiring of new head coach Nathaniel Hackett than Noah Fant after he was so poorly utilized throughout the Pat Shurmur era.

Fant was drafted to be a field-stretching nightmare for defenses, who has the ability to beat just about any linebacker in the league up the seam. He’s not the best blocker, but when the team drafted him, they saw the athletic traits that could lead to him becoming a successful blocker in a zone-heavy scheme. Unfortunately, after Pat Shurmur was brought in, Fant was no longer used that way.

In 2021, he was targetted more frequently behind the line of scrimmage than he was on deep routes, and that was largely the result of those plays not being called. Fant was targetted more than 10 yards downfield on just 22.73% of his targets in 2021, and that’s not just a symptom of playing with the weaker-armed Teddy Bridgewater, as that rate sits at just 25.99% throughout the Pat Shurmur era. Compare that to his rookie season, which came in an offense similar to the one Hackett is expected him to run, when 42.37% of his targets occured when he was more than 10 yards downfield.

The disappointments haven’t just been as a receiver though, as he’s also failed to live up to the relatively low expectations surrounding his blocking ability.  As the Broncos move away from a gap scheme and instead to a zone-blocking scheme, Fant should see improvement here as well.

Hackett’s scheme should better highlight Fant’s strengths and help hide some of his weaknesses, after the last two seasons have been relatively disappointing. Some of his struggles last season have also been tied to the fact that he lost his mother just before the season, and a clearer head in 2022 could lead to better results.

Albert Okwuegbunam

The 2021 season was surprisingly strong for Albert Okwuegbunam, despite being buried behind Noah Fant and also having to deal with Shurmur’s inability to effectively use the talent he was provided with.

Okwuegbunam did a better job making chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what than Fant did however, leading some in Broncos Country wanting to see him supplant the 2019 first-round pick.

Coming off a torn ACL, Okwuegbunam tallied 33 receptions on 40 targets for 330 yards and  two touchdowns, while helping to generate a passer rating of 117.7 whenever targetted. As Okwuegbunam has better short-area movement skills than Fant, he was better suited for Shurmur’s scheme, but was still utilized poorly, as he saw a measly 17.5% of his targets come at a depth greater than 10 yards.

The biggest takeaway from 2021 for Okwuegbunam was that he established himself as a legitimate offensive threat moving forward, instead of just a luxury piece to use on occassion. The talent is evident. Now, the Broncos finally have someone to utilize it.

Eric Saubert

One of the most pleasant surprises across the entire Broncos roster last season was Eric Saubert.

Saubert was brought onto the team last offseason as a free agent to add some extra blocking to a tight end room that had a skill set focused on pass-catching. While Saubert certainly lived up to expectations as a blocker, he unexpectedly offered quite a bit as a receiver in limited flashes.

Although he only tallied eight receptions and 47 yards on the season, Saubert showcased he could handle a much bigger role during the preseason, when he saw a greater target share.

The importance of run-blocking from the tight end position will only be increased under Hackett, and Saubert’s ability to also impact the game as a receiver means he should be in line for an increased role in 2022.

Andrew Beck

It’s somewhat difficult to forecast whether the hiring of Nathaniel Hackett and the adoption of his Shanahan-esque scheme is excellent for Beck’s future with the team or a troubling omen.

During his time with the Broncos, Beck was primarily used as a fullback, as 70.91% of his offensive snaps in 2021 and 62.75% of his total snaps in orange and blue came at that position.

Hackett’s scheme will utilize that fullback position much more frequently than Shurmur would have. That could create additional opportunities for Beck to thrive, or it could create the need for a dedicated fullback, rather than a fullback-tight-end hybrid, which could make Beck lose his roster spot.

Odds are Beck has played his last season for the Broncos and that the team will look to bring in a new fullback this offseason, but don’t be surprised if Beck has his best season for the team instead.

Shaun Beyer

The Broncos added Shaun Beyer as an undrafted free agent following the 2021 NFL draft. Beyer didn’t play a snap for the Broncos this year but showcased some flashes in training camp and in the preseason.

As a tight end that specialized as a blocker during his time at the University of Iowa, but was recruited to the university as a wide receiver, Beyer boasts an intriguing skill set that could lead to increased opportunities under Hackett.


The Broncos’ tight-end room has largely been disappointing for each of the past two seasons, but that largely appears to be the fault of not being used correctly.

The talent in the room has always been extremely apparent, and now that the Broncos are shifting to a scheme that fits that talent much better, 2022 is set to be huge for Denver’s tight ends.

Ultimately though, the potential of this room is palpable but the on-field results didn’t match that potential and their end-season grade must reflect that.

Overall Position Group Grade: D