The Denver Broncos are coming off one of their most disappointing seasons in franchise history, but fortunately, that cloud disappointment didn’t infect the whole roster.

At tight end, almost everyone outperformed preseason expectations, and those that didn’t can at least argue that coaching was clearly to blame, which is much better than most of Denver’s position groups did.

How did each member of the Denver Broncos tight end room perform in 2022, and what’s waiting for them in 2023? Let’s look.

Greg Dulcich

Throughout 2020 and 2021, Broncos Country was rich with excuses for one of its young, fledgling, hopeful stars.

He had dealt with an injury his rookie year, a shortened offseason that limited time to work on his craft, grow, and transition into the NFL game, and he was surrounded by really poor coaching an a non-ideal offensive situation. As a result, they argued, it was unfair to blame him for his lack of productivity.

This season, Greg Dulcich reminded the Denver Broncos how great players can succeed even in the face of adversity.

Despite dealing with an injury throughout a large chunk of his rookie season and the immensely valuable rookie offseason, and being thrust in the worst-run and most inept offense in football, Dulcich thrived, demonstrating the resiliency of a tardigrade in the process.

In just 10 games, Dulcich tallied 33 receptions for 411 yards and two TDs, making it one of the most productive seasons a rookie tight end has ever had (from a per-game perspective). Among rookie tight ends with at least five games played, Dulcich ranks 13th all-time in yards per game and 12th all-time in receptions per game.

He also showed clear growth as a blocker over the course of the season.

The one big concern that lingers is Dulcich’s health. Hamstring injuries are none for their tendency to linger, and the fact Dulcich both started and ended the season on the injured list is a red flag.

That said, with a more functional offense, better coaching, and hopefully a longer offseason, the sky’s the limit for Dulcich.

Eric Saubert

Over the past two seasons, the Denver Broncos have dished out a meager $2,177,500 for Eric Saubert, and have gotten some really nice inline tight end play.

Every member of the Broncos’ tight end room currently has their future up in the air, as they either have an expiring contract, or are Albert Okwuegbunam. Despite that wide spread of uncertainty, Saubert is the one Denver should prioritize bringing back, as his versatility is uniquely valuable to the Broncos and he’s an immaculate bargain.

For a hair over a million a year, the Broncos are getting a top-notch blocker who’s a deceptively dangerous weapon in the passing game too.

Saubert is a do-it-all tight end with special teams ability who is well-liked in the locker room and will fit the scheme of whoever the next head coach ends up being. Considering the Broncos currently don’t have any other do-it-all options at the position, it’s hard to imagine them not having room for Saubert.

Eric Tomlinson

Greg Dulcich was a revelation this season and is likely the future of the tight end position in Denver, however, nothing found in the tight end room produced a more immediate feeling of giddiness and serotonin than watching Eric Tomlinson blossom as a pass-catcher this season.

The tight end has been a glorified tackle for much of his career, playing plenty of snaps as a blocker, but only caught two passes for eight yards on three targets from 2019 to 2021. Extend that window back to 2018, and he totals 10 receptions for 80 yards. This season, he nearly matched that four-year total, hauling in nine receptions for 79 yards and two scores.

As nice as that is, no one is signing Tomlinson for his receiving ability. That was simply a nice off-speed pitch that the offense managed to develop this season.

What Tomlinson brings to the table is his ability as an additional pass-protector and as a road-grading run-mauler. He fulfilled both those roles brilliantly this season, and could easily be brought back this offseason by the Denver Broncos. His last stop saw him playing under John Harbaugh, and he’d be a perfect fit for brother Jim Harbaugh’s offense.

That said, as is a consistent problem throughout this tight end room, the Broncos tight ends all fill very clear roles with little overlap. That might not sound like a problem at first glance, but it means you have a lot of obvious tells built into the offense. Dulcich out there with Saubert? Probably passing it. Tomlinson out there with Saubert? Probably running it.

Building more versatility and variety should be the top priortiy, as far as this one single position is concerned, this offseason.

Andrew Beck

Andrew Beck is yet another specialist with a very clearly defined niche in the Denver Broncos’ tight end room.

Since 2019, Beck has occupied the spot of being Denver’s fullback, despite consistently being listed as a tight end. This season was one of his best in that role, though, if the Broncos continue to commit to a fullback-laden offensive approach — like if they hire Jim Harbaugh, for example — they’d still probably be best off finding a true, natural fullback.

However, the versatility Beck offers as a receiver from the fullback position, and his special teams ability — which Denver is severely lacking — makes it somewhat tricky to move on.

Beck is also set to be a free agent, so whoever the Broncos hire to be their next coach will have a large say in determining whether or not Beck returns.

Albert Okwuegbunam

Maybe the most interesting case in this position group is Albert Okwuegbunam, who just endured a remarkably bizarre season.

Following a promising 2021 campaign that saw Okwuegbunam record career-highs in every major receiving category, the tight end was practically exiled to Saint Helena, much like Napoleon Bonaparte, by Nathaniel Hackett.

It started on draft night, when Hackett giddily discussed with George Paton how Greg Dulcich brought something to the roster which they didn’t have otherwise, as you’ll see in the clip below.

Denver Broncos Nathaniel Hackett on Dulcich

That was always weird, cause Dulcich’s profile — an athletic, pass-catching centric tight end — wasn’t all that unique relative to Okwuegbunam, even if Dulcich was a superior prospect.

We quickly came to understand how strongly Hackett felt about the differences between the two though, once Dulcich returned from his hamstring injury. In the five weeks prior to Dulcich’s return, Okwuegbunam averaged 24.4 snaps per game, for a total of 122. In the 10 games that followed, Okwuegbunam totaled just two snaps.

It wasn’t until after Dulcich was added to injured reserve, and after Hackett was fired, that Okwuegbunam returned to the lineup, and he was solid in that limited time back.

In week 17, he led the Broncos in receiving with 45 yards, though his drops returned, and in Week 18 he was also a factor.

The late season resurgence was enough to make Broncos Country wonder if Okwuegbunam should be brought back, as he certainly meets the talent requirement for making an NFL roster. That said, Okwuegbunam’s best landing spot might be elsewhere. The Broncos already have too many specialized tight ends filling up their room, and Okwuegbunam is both overly specialized and redundant.

With that in mind, whatever draft pick the Broncos could fetch in a trade might hold more value to them.

Dalton Keene

Most Denver Broncos fans are likely unfamiliar with Dalton Keene, and understandably so. He didn’t play a snap in the 2022 season, so there isn’t much to say, as he spent his time in Denver on the practice squad.

He is set to be a free agent, and given his status, Denver will likely let him walk, but his pre-draft pedigree of being a natural inline tight end might warrant a look in camp this offseason.