The Broncos’ wide receiver room is jam-packed with talent.
That much, we do know. What we don’t know is: Who will be the first-team receivers?
OK, Courtland Sutton is a no-doubter as starter. The 6’4″ beast has elevated his game from mere starter to superstar, specifically in the 2019 season. His list of highlight reel-worthy catches has grown steadily over his first two years and he makes all of the needed, simpler catches as well.
Then, there’s Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos’ first-round pick who really put on a dazzling display on Day 1 of training camp on Friday.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 14, 2020
Jeudy’s got it all; he’s versatile enough to play in the slot or outside, reliable hands, dynamic route-running and speed. He’s certainly going to be running with the “ones” this season, although we’re still not sure at which position.
That leaves a very crowded group behind the two studs at wideout. There’s DaeSean Hamilton, Tim Patrick, another rookie in K.J. Hamler and even Juwann Winfree fighting for the Nos. 3 and 4 spots.
And, while it’s early in camp, Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright believes Patrick’s proven he’s a first-team receiver.
1st string WR.
If you listen to the show you already knew this.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) August 14, 2020
What does Patrick bring to the table? He’s another beast, at 6’4″ tall, just like Sutton, and he’s shown a lot of heart as well as courageousness on the field, being willing to make catches in traffic.
Over the last two seasons, Patrick has racked up 533 yards on 39 catches and one touchdown. It’s important to note he didn’t have a catch last year until Week 10, being held out of Weeks 2-9. And down the stretch, Patrick clicked well with rookie quarterback Drew Lock. In the comeback win over Houston, the two connected for a 37-yard gain down the left sideline, and Patrick also hauled in five catches (on six targets) for 48 yards in the win over Detroit in Week 16.
If he were to be on the first team, Patrick would be the No. 2 receiver, lining up opposite of Sutton outside, while Jeudy would move into the slot.
If it’s not Patrick, Hamilton or Hamler could be the first-teamer.
Hamilton has seen a career full of ups and downs with Denver. He caught 30 passes for 243 yards and two scores as a rookie, but then his production dropped of greatly in 2019. Hamilton was a virtual no-show for half of last season, however, similar to Patrick, he reinserted himself into the offense when Lock started the last five games.
He caught 17-of-28 targets down the stretch, including one touchdown. We can’t forget the wide open touchdown he dropped, either, though.
Still, Hamilton was like a reborn player late last season, and if he can continue to work on chemistry with the young quarterback, he could beat out Patrick.
Then, the x-factor is Hamler. Because of his size — 5’9″ and 178 pounds — Hamler would almost certainly be the slot receiver, with Jeudy outside, if Hamler earned his way onto the first-team.
As a sophomore at Penn State in 2019, Hamler caught 56 passes for 904 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s a big-play threat, and with his superb speed and quickness, a YAC stud.
Of course, it’s a difficult task for a rookie to make a massive impact on a team in his first year. And, with veterans around him, Hamler may be relegated to the fourth or fifth receiver spot.
All of Patrick, Hamler and Hamilton made catches in Day 1 of training camp, and it’s way too early to know for sure who will end up being in the first group of receivers. What it means is the Broncos have some serious competition brewing, and competition brings the best out of those immersed in it. And, it’s important to note two of those three will likely be relied upon, specifically when the Broncos go to a 4-wide set.
Stay tuned as these battles will continue throughout camp.