As the summer moves on into the hot months of July and into August, so does the anticipation of the return of football, both for the collegiate and professional level.
With training camps approaching, many fans have a close eye on their favourite teams and players. This could be for many different reasons, such as whether they are interested on how they are doing in general and how they are feeling, what they did in the offseason, what have they improved talent wise, if a player coming back from a major injury is looking more like his old self (Jamaal Charles), but quite possibly the most important interest is where are they are going to wind up on the depth chart and their part they will contribute to the upcoming season.
This is the big attraction, more so for the Denver Broncos as most eyes are on the battle for the top QB position with last year’s starter in Trevor Siemian, and last year’s first-round draft pick, and heir apparent, in Paxton Lynch from Memphis University.
Yes, it is important to know who will lead the team into battle next season and who is expected to help push the Broncos back into the playoffs and contention for another Super Bowl ring while the “Orange Crush” defense is still ranked the highest in all of the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
But there are even more position battles even further than that, none fiercer than who will be that third option in the passing game behind one of the best WR duos in all of football in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Let’s dive a little deeper to see who might emerge as the victor when the dust settles.
Returning from last year’s roster is Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor, whose contributions were very small this past season.
Latimer only was able to obtain eight receptions for 76 receiving yards with zero touchdowns in all of 2016. Latimer did help out on special teams securing him a spot on the roster, but as a former second-round pick in 2014 and being touted as the future of the Broncos, he hasn’t lived up to the hype around him coming out of Indiana University.
He has one year left of his current four-year, $3.7 million dollar contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Needless to say, the Broncos top brass will not likely offer a brand new contract unless they see a huge improvement from Cody this season.
Bennie Fowler is a much cheaper option for the Broncos as his contract is a year-by-year basis contract coming in as a undrafted free agent from Michigan State in 2015, only giving Bennie $615,000 a year.
Even so, Fowler was able to come up with 11 receptions for 145 yards receiving and two touchdowns, however struggled after his elbow injury in preseason early last season and was plagued with miscues, one huge one being a drop in the endzone against the Tennessee Titans in a Week 12 13-10 loss. Still, the contribution to special teams kept him busy, securing him a roll in Denver’s receiving corp.
We can certainly not forget about Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor, who became a big favorite of Peyton Manning on the practice squad during his rehab and recovery during his injury in 2015 when the Denver Broncos became Super Bowl 50 champions.
Last year Taylor got promoted to the active roster giving us 16 receptions for 209 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. He is also signed to a one-year deal for $540,000 coming up this year.
The summary to these three is basically “it’s time to shine, or it’s time to move on.” Why is that the case? Let’s introduce the reason why with these new exciting and explosive rookie wideouts the Broncos were able to collect in this year’s 2017 NFL Draft.
With the 18th pick in the third round, and 82nd player chosen overall, the Denver Broncos selected Carlos Henderson from Louisiana Tech. In 2016 alone, Henderson was able to rack up 82 receptions for 1,535 receiving yards for 19 touchdowns. Insane!
What’s the best part about Carlos’s disposition is he likes to run at defenders and hit them as if he were a running back, giving himself significant space to gain additional yards for each time he caught the ball. He’s just as much a bruiser as the Denver defense is.
He also has a great deal of kick return experience with 805 yards and two touchdowns in just 2016. I know, it’s an eye opener!
Carlos Henderson is probably the biggest and most talented threat to snag the WR3 spot from the current catcher we listed above, with a sure bet spot taking over kick return duty from Emmanuel Sanders. He also flashed in rookie camps and OTA’s impressing the returning offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Come training camp, he might just keep pushing his way up the ranks.
With the 26th pick in the fifth round being the 172nd player taken overall, the Denver Broncos selected Isaiah McKenzie from the University of Georgia. Just like Henderson, McKenzie is a specialist in returns, but more so with punt returns. He went for 25 punt returns for 245 yards and one touchdown. He’s also a dual threat as he also has running back experience. All together in 2016 Isaiah racked in 44 receptions for 633 yards receiving, seven passing touchdowns to go along with his 19 carries for 134 rushing yards and two rushing TDs.
This is especially frightening for the opponents the Broncos will face as he will be used in special offensive packages similar to Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs, but also be able to line up at the line of scrimmage or backfield for a carry or two.
These two prolific assets are the reason why the future is bright for Broncos Country in wide receiver land, but it’s now or never for the current players now.
This is going to get good and I’m excited to see the outcome and the official depth chart of the Denver Broncos. Training camp is up next on July 27th, and we are going to see these battles play out as we get ready for some preseason football come next month.
If you would like to keep up with me and my other articles, you can follow me over on Twitter @brandontsanders. We’ll see you next time, Broncos family!