Going into the 2021 season, wide receiver looked like one of the Broncos’ strongest position groups on their roster, but after injuries, trades, and other unforeseen circumstances, they are struggling.
At the moment, The Broncos have a “top-four” of players at wide receiver, then a massive drop-off in talent throughout the rest of the position. Those four — Tim Patrick, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, and Jerry Jeudy — look great on paper but have plenty of questions in their own right, surrounding their future with the team.
Matter of fact, out of those four, Jeudy seems to be the only one fans can confidently say the team will be able to continue to build around, largely due to his high first-round status and contract situation.
Patrick and Sutton, on the other hand, are both impending free agents. Considering their value to the offense, one would have to assume the Broncos at least try to bring both back, but doing so may be a long shot.
How much they demand on the open market is unknown, but it won’t be cheap. Sutton has shown true No. 1 wide receiver potential, while Patrick’s consistently solid play is going to be valued league-wide.
The last of that group, Hamler, brings the unique skill set of speed and yards-after-the-catch ability to the Broncos but is struggling to stay healthy, and that could be a consistent problem considering his frame. Last season he dealt with a hamstring injury and he’s now missing the remainder of this season with a torn ACL. Betting on him to be a starter for the entirety of an NFL season, especially the new elongated one, is a massive risk.
Looking so far ahead, it is tough to pinpoint exactly what the Broncos would be looking for at the position. The NFL moves fast and this offseason looks to be one the biggest for the organization in a long time. Not only with a slew of impending free agents but the Broncos may be in the market for a new head coach. With that comes a new scheme and new ideals in what the Broncos may value in their players.
With that being said, one thing is clear. Outside of Hamler, the Broncos wide receiver room is severely lacking speed. Not just the ability to take the top off the defense but most importantly, the threat of it.
Patrick and Sutton are tremendous at what they do but without any player threatening the defense over the top, defensive coordinators are able to play the Broncos differently, making the job of every player that much more difficult.
This is also a topic we covered on the What’s On Draft podcast if you’re craving more in-depth analysis on the state of the Broncos wide receiver room.
Luckily for the Broncos, looking at this upcoming draft, there are plenty of players that could potentially fill this void.
Chris Olave, Ohio State University
If the Broncos opt to go with a first-round selection at wide receiver, Olave fits the mold of what the Broncos would need perfectly.
With true game-breaking speed, Olave can take the top off the defense on any play and projects to be the perfect complement to what the Broncos already have.
60+ yards in the air DOT from Justin Fields. I wouldn’t let Chris Olave fall out of the top 32 picks. pic.twitter.com/gr95chfYMv
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 2, 2021
On top of that, he is extremely pro-ready. As a player that would’ve been a first-round pick in last year’s draft, he could step into any offense and help immediately. This is because of how crisp he is as a route runner. With the nuance and ability to change pace throughout his routes, he is a tough matchup for any cornerback.
Not dominant at the catch point or overly physical, Olave may not ever be a true No. 1 wide receiver but his evaluation is so clean, there is little doubt he won’t be a positive football player to have on your team, and he could be an elite No. 2.
Romeo Doubs, University of Nevada
Doubs, yet another prospect that could fill that void for the Broncos passing attack, offers one of the more intriguing skillsets in this class.
On the receiving end of many Carson Strong bombs, Doubs is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound deep threat. Rare at this size, Doubs excels vertically where fans constantly see him blazing past opposing defenders.
#Nevada WR Romeo Doubs shows some impressive long speed and tracking on deep passes. Hauls in this deep post for a touchdown, and did this several times last season.
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) July 19, 2021
Projected to be a true Z wide receiver, Doubs shockingly has high-end short-area quickness. Despite not being the most polished route runner, he most definitely has the traits to be one with more coaching.
The most disappointing part of his game is his hands. He has far too many drops. It’s a massive area of concern but the traits shown still make him an intriguing prospect the Broncos should be keeping an eye on.
Zay Flowers, Boston College
On the smaller side, listed at 5’11” and 177 pounds, Flowers is a playmaker by every definition of the word.
Thriving in a similar role to Hamler, Flowers is more of a slot wide receiver but brings still brings the deep threat ability the Broncos so badly need.
Zay Flowers being good at football. Who could have guessed? pic.twitter.com/6Zar9O67Vi
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) September 4, 2021
As a true yards-after-the-catch monster, Flowers is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Winning on all three levels, he is a guy that defensive coordinators have to game plan for every game.
He is also a threat to win deep where deep shots are scattered all throughout his film. Despite his smaller size, Flowers has also shown the ability to win at the catch point, making his ability to take the top off the defense that much more dangerous.
While his ceiling may not be as high as the other payers on this list, Flowers is a fairly safe prospect. Already thriving in a role many NFL teams could use, his talent should be recognized early in his NFL career and he would serve as instant insurance for Hamler.