When he was drafted in the first round — pick No. 15 — of the NFL Draft, Jerry Jeudy was supposed to be an immediate superstar.

Instead, he’s been an inconsistent receiver for most of his three-year career to this point.

But, in a lost year which the Denver Broncos will likely fire their head coach and miss the playoffs for the inconceivable seventh straight time, there are a few bright spots.

Offensively, Jeudy is likely the brightest one. (Honorable mention to Greg Dulcich.)

In Week 1, Jeudy and Russell Wilson lit up the Seattle Seahawks, mostly thanks to the wideout’s 67-yard catch and run for a score. He put up 102 yards and the touchdown and it seemed like he and Wilson would be a sure thing going forward. But, his play and Wilson’s were both only fool’s gold.

In the following five weeks, Jeudy and Wilson found themselves on different pages more often than not. The struggles were on Wilson’s side most of the time; his inaccuracy has been detrimental to Denver’s passing attack this year. Other times, though, Jeudy ran the wrong route or dropped passes during that stretch.

During the overtime, Week 6, heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Jeudy was visibly frustrated on the sidelines, talking with Melvin Gordon:

Again, Nathaniel Hackett’s offense and Russell Wilson’s play were both frustrating seemingly everyone in Broncos Country. This wasn’t a unique reaction for the situation.

And for Jeudy, the frustration of his career to this point seemed to boil over, too.

Really, for him, the road has been difficult in the NFL.

Jeudy had to play with Drew Lock and a bunch of backups as a rookie and enjoyed his best season despite Denver not being a contender. Last year, he had Teddy Bridgewater and Lock, plus he had to deal with an injured ankle, missing seven games.

2022 was rough up until that Chargers game, but the next week against the New York Jets, Jeudy broke out.

Take it for what you will, but Brett Rypien helped Jeudy break out of his slump. He caught 7 of 11 targets for 96 yards in the loss. Then, the wideout was injured on the first play against the Tennessee Titans, missing almost all of three weeks.

Since then, he’s caught 19 of 21 targets for 234 yards and 3 touchdowns.

In fact, all three of those scores came in the “Jerry Jeudy Game” two weeks ago in the narrow defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.

During the game, Denver fell behind 27-0 to the AFC West-leading Chiefs. And at one point, Jeudy was extremely emotional, throwing his helmet, bumping into an official and even throwing a teammate’s arm off of his shoulder.

That was the moment everything changed for the young wideout; he caught back-to-back touchdowns for Denver to make it 27-14, KC. And then his touchdown catch from Rypien — after Wilson suffered a concussion — brought the game to 34-28. Denver rallied, carried by Jeudy, but came up oh-so-close and lost.

Some may see it as a moral victory to come close but lose to the Chiefs, and that’s fine. Denver hasn’t beaten them in 14 attempts; they simply have to in order to win the AFC West again.

But what isn’t a moral victory is Jeudy’s ascension to stardom in the second half of this season.

No doubt about it, he’s taken over as No. 1 receiver for Denver, supplanting Courtland Sutton. Currently, Sutton leads in receptions (52-49) and yards (688-663) but Jeudy is the far-and-away leader in touchdowns (6-1). When it comes to drops, which Jeudy has been hounded for over his career, he has far less than Sutton this year (9-4) as well.

Going forward, Sutton can still push himself to improve and be a solid No. 2 to Jeudy, and then the Broncos will be in strong shape going forward into 2023. To start this season, neither Sutton nor Jeudy stepped up to be the No. 1 guy, and compounded with Wilson’s struggles, the offense was awful.

But looking forward, Denver has an emerging star at wideout, and hopefully a second if Sutton can regain his footing. At tight end, the Broncos seemed to have found a star in Dulcich, and Javonte Williams is a dynamic, punishing running back. Here’s hoping Williams bounces back from his torn ACL.

The positive is: Denver looks to be set up with more playmakers at every position next year than they had in 2022.

Of course, it all rests on Wilson’s shoulders. He must play better. We’ve seen some flashes of brilliance from him, and he seemed to respond to a new play-caller in Klint Kubiak. All eyes will be on him again in 2023 and it will be interesting to see if Wilson can regain even more of his former luster when a new head coach is almost surely brought in this offseason.

If he can’t get it done, the Broncos need to look to extend Jeudy next year and set their next quarterback up with a star wideout.