ESPN underrates Broncos on list of teams with most under-25 talent

Drew Lock after a game. Credit: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports.
Drew Lock after a game. Credit: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports.

With the season now less than five weeks away, ESPN has released their annual rankings of the teams with the most talent under the age of 25, and the Broncos were shockingly low.

Denver came in ranked 19th, notably behind the Raiders (16th), Bengals (13th), Texans (9th) and Jaguars (7th).

“After spending first- and second-round picks on Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and now Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the past three seasons, the Broncos have assembled some of the best young skill talent in football,” ESPN analyst Scott Spratt wrote. “Sutton already broke out with 1,112 yards and a 5.7% DVOA in his sophomore season, and Jeudy seems a lock to follow suit with the second-highest Playmaker Score in this year’s class. But whether that talent translates into offensive efficiency will likely rest on the shoulders of quarterback Drew Lock. His second-round status would seem to make him a longer shot to become a franchise passer. But he did produce a 2.2% DVOA and 48.2 QBR in his rookie season, comparable to No. 1 pick and rookie of the year Kyler Murray (-3.1%, 55.7).”

The Broncos skill position talent is incredibly promising, and they also have a bunch of youthful offensive line talent in Dalton Risner (though he’s now over 25), and Lloyd Cushenberry III. Denver’s offensive unit should only get better and better as they continue to grow and develop together.

However, Spratt thinks Denver is lacking youthful talent on the defensive side of the ball.

“Defensively, the Broncos remain older with one young star in pass-rusher Bradley Chubb as well as a handful of interesting prospects sprinkled in,” Spratt wrote. “Chubb missed most of 2019 with an ACL tear, but his 34.5 hurries and 12 sacks as a rookie put him on a similar career trajectory as three-time All-Pro teammate Von Miller. And third-round sophomore Dre’Mont Jones could add a third member to their fearsome pass rush after he burst onto the scene with a Week 16 dismantling of the Lions with 2.5 sacks and two tackles for losses. It might be difficult for Jones, 2018 third-round cornerback Isaac Yiadom and 2020 third-round cornerback Michael Ojemudia and defensive tackle McTelvin Agim to find extensive playing time in a loaded, veteran defense, but they provide the team with enviable depth in the short term and multiple succession plans in the long term.”

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