On paper, the Denver Broncos’ 2020 rookie class is the best class John Elway has put together in his tenure as general manager, and the impact the players selected should have on the team will be far-reaching.
That said, what should Broncos Country expect from the rookie unit following a Coronavirus-shortened off-season?
Projected stats: 16 starts, 70 receptions, 850 yards, five touchdowns.
Jerry Jeudy is primed to have the best rookie campaign of any receiver from the 2020 class when you consider his surrounding talent and pro-readiness.
Typically, the top rookie receiver finishes around 80 receptions for 1,000 yards and eight-to-10 scores, but given the negative effects a shortened off-season will have on this year’s rookies, as well as how many mouths the Broncos’ offense has to feed, we’re projecting Jeudy to fall just short of those marks.
Projected stats: Eight starts, 30 receptions, 550 yards, three touchdowns.
K.J. Hamler won’t be a focal point of the offense from day one like Jeudy will be, but he will get more and more opportunities as the season wears on.
Hamler also won’t be a volume receiver like Jeudy, but when he gets the ball in his hands, brace yourself for a big play. He has the speed to get behind safeties with ease and to take even a simple slant route to the house if he gets the right angle.
Projected stats: 12 starts, 60 tackles, eight passes defended, two sacks, one interception.
Michael Ojemudia needs a good amount of polish to his coverage technique, both in man and in zone, but the Broncos are so desperate for a third starting cornerback to pair with Bryce Callahan and A.J. Bouye, that they’ll rush him into a starting role before he’s ready.
Though there will be some hiccups in coverage, his athleticism and physical play style also means we’ll see him make a good number of tackles, some of which will come behind the line of scrimmage, and maybe even a sack or two.
Lloyd Cushenberry III
Projected stats: 16 starts, two sacks allowed.
With Patrick Morris currently slotted to be Lloyd Cushenberry III‘s only competition on the roster for the starting center job, Cushenberry should take over from day one and might hold that job in Denver for the next decade if everything goes to plan.
His youth and inexperience means he’ll make a mistake or two that will lead to the occasional sack, but when you pair an athlete of that caliber with his high football IQ and the league’s best offensive line coach, it’s bound to work out.
Projected stats: 0 starts, 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks
McTelvin Agim might not post the most impressive stat line this season, but that will have more to do with the lack of opportunities he receives due to the talent ahead of him, rather than his own deficiencies.
As was the case with Dre’Mont Jones a season ago, we might not see a ton of Agim in 2020, but when he is on the field, the flashes of what he could be will quickly emerge.
Projected stats: 0 starts, 20 receptions, 215 yards, four touchdowns
Considering Pat Shurmur doesn’t often utilize two tight-end sets, Albert Okwuegbunam will have a limited number of snaps, most of which should come in the red zone.
While in college, almost every time the Missouri Tigers would enter the red zone, they would look Okwuegbunam’s way for a fade at the back of the endzone, which was almost uncoverable given his size, speed, and physicality. If it was unstoppable in the SEC, pro teams will struggle with it too, even if it’s to a lesser extent.
Projected stats: Four starts, 40 tackles, three tackles for loss, four passes defended.
The fact the Broncos are still paying Todd Davis $6 million for the 2020 season means Justin Strnad won’t get an opportunity to start early on, but with his talent and instincts, it won’t be long until he sees the field.
He’s already a much better coverage linebacker than Davis, and by season’s end, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s a better all-around linebacker than his veteran counterpart.
Projected stats: 0 starts, 0 games played
That said, don’t dismiss Muti entirely. He fell to the sixth round because of injuries, not his ability or skill, and if he gets a chance to play, that will become apparent very quickly.
Projected stats: three receptions, 25 yards, five tackles
If it wasn’t for his special teams prowess, there’s a good chance Tyrie Cleveland wouldn’t even make the final roster. Thanks to that ability to instantly contribute on special teams, Cleveland will get on the field a fair amount as a gunner, where he should make a few tackles.
Projected stats: 0 starts, 0 games played
Derrek Tuszka will have an uphill climb to make the final roster and an incredibly limited amount of time to do so. Of course, Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are ahead of him on the depth chart, but so are Malik Reed, Jeremiah Attaochu and Justin Hollins, and it seems unlikely the Broncos carry six edge rushers on the final roster. Tuszka’s polish and motor might make them think twice though.