Former Indianapolis Colts receiver and future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne appeared on the NFL Network as an analyst to heap praise on one of the more talented members of Denver’s loaded 2018 draft class, wide receiver Courtland Sutton.
While interviewing Sutton, Wayne said, “I look at this guy as the future of the Broncos. Not only the future of the Broncos but the future of the NFL’s next set of receivers that are coming into the league.” Wayne then added, “Courtland’s gonna be the cornerstone of those guys, those groups of receivers coming in. That’s how high my expectations are for him.” That’s some incredible praise, especially from a Hall-of-Fame-caliber receiver like Reggie Wayne.
After a solid rookie season that saw the former SMU Mustang reel in 42 passes for 704 yards and four scores, Sutton has become one of the trendier breakout candidates for 2019, and with good reason.
For starters, Joe Flacco is in and Case Keenum is out which is not only a clear upgrade in terms of talent but in terms of fit as well. Sutton is a jump-ball receiver in the style of Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall, who won’t necessarily beat defenders with speed or route running, but will beat them with their hands, toughness and leaping ability. Sutton turns 50/50 balls into 70/30 likely completions with his rare combination of size, athleticism and hand-eye coordination.
Sutton showed this ability off in 2018, finishing 11th among all receivers in terms of yards per reception (16.8) and first among rookies in terms of deep pass receptions with nine. Remember, last season Keenum wasn’t throwing many passes deep, over-the-top, or into tight situations that favored Sutton’s style of play. Flacco however, loves to throw the deep ball and the jump ball, meaning that Sutton should have far more big-play opportunities in 2019 than he saw last season.
Another reason fans should expect Sutton to break out is that he’s expected to see the lion’s share of the work at receiver this season, which is certainly in contrast to his rookie year where he opened the season as the third receiver on the depth chart. Despite his initial status as the low man on the totem pole, Sutton still led all receivers in snaps played thanks to his quick progression that led to the Broncos trading long-time receiver Demaryius Thomas.
The second-year receiver also feels he has a better grasp on the mental side of the game now, “I believe I’m in a spot where I’m understanding what defenses are throwing at me, I’m understanding all the spots that everybody is going to be in, understanding that I can’t just know my job I have to know everybody’s job because the whole play works together.”
When adding up everything he has to offer, few players in the league are as primed to take the world by storm in 2019 as Courtland Sutton. Here’s hoping it all comes together for the Broncos in September.