2023 was simply a trial run for Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos wide receiver room. And really, the entire team.

2024 is when Payton’s vision is finally starting to show.

The head coach went after and secured his new starting quarterback in Bo Nix, after being forced to play with Russell Wilson under center last year. And he drafted two receivers to throw to in Nix’s former teammate at Oregon, Troy Franklin, as well as DeVaughn Vele.

We’re now getting a glimpse into the offense Payton wants in Denver.

Broncos wide receiver room completely rebuilt this offseason

Despite rumors about a draft-day trade sending away Courtland Sutton, the Broncos built around him.

Sutton’s the 6’4″ superstar on the roster. He really showed out in 2023, putting together an insane highlight reel of remarkable catches. And this toe drag swag was likely the best of them all:

Sutton has superb body control, able to high-point a ball over a defender, or stop and let the DB run by as he gets his feet inbounds. He’s also a crucial target on third downs, converting a team-leading 37 first downs last year. Sutton is a brilliant, veteran receiver who can help Nix gain confidence early.

Speaking of veterans, the Broncos traded away Jerry Jeudy and replaced him with the 6’3″ Josh Reynolds.

Reynolds is a 7-year veteran who recently played two and a half years in Detroit as part of that Lions’ offensive machine. He’s an even bigger deep ball threat than Sutton, with his 15.2 yards per reception coming in at 18th in the league last year. Reynolds’ 9.5 yards per target (22nd) were also better than Sutton’s (8.6); both know how to make the most out of having the ball in their hands.

He knows how to get open and isn’t afraid to catch the ball over the middle. That will be valuable in Payton’s offense.

And finally, the two new drafted guys round out the Broncos wide receiver room.

Playing with great, veteran receivers on the outside will help Nix adjust to the NFL, sure. But so will having his former teammate in Troy Franklin.

At 6’2″ and only 176 pounds, he needs to put on some muscle, but he does possess 4.31 speed. That’s the kind of explosive athleticism Denver hasn’t had with a tall receiver in a long time. He’ll compliment the shortest receiver on the team in Marvin Mims, and is even faster than Mims, too.

Franklin was the biggest steal of the draft, as he was expected to go in the first round but Denver took him in the third.

And then there’s DeVaughn Vele, a 6’5″ wideout out of Utah. Add in 6’4″ Tim Patrick and the Broncos have five players at 6’2″ or taller.

Big receivers give an offense physicality

It’s clear Sean Payton loves tall receivers.

Back in the 2000s, Payton’s Saints featured 6’4″ Marques Colston as their No. 1 receiver. In fact, he was the guy in New Orleans from 2006-2015, racking up six 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

In his latter years with the Saints, Payton’s guy was the 6’3″ Michael Thomas, who won AP Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. That season, he racked up an NFL-leading 149 receptions for 1,725 yards.

Tall receivers make a huge difference in the passing game because they can simply go up and over shorter defensive backs, who average only 5’10” tall. But it’s not just that; the receivers possess the physicality to catch the ball over the middle, take contact, and control the pigskin.

They can also block well in the run game.

Here we see Courtland Sutton blocking a linebacker to spring a big run. Unfortunately it was called back as a hold, which it wasn’t.

And Frankie Abbott put together a wonderful highlight tape of Reynolds’ great blocking abilities. He seems to really enjoy getting physical inside and springing his running backs.

Denver’s offense has a long way to go and grow, but we’re seeing exactly how Payton wants to shape his offense. Big, tall, physical receivers who will threaten any defense whether the Broncos are throwing or running the ball.