Denver Broncos Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State – Round 2
It might be difficult to see Hamler as a starter since he figures to be the third receiver behind Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, but NFL teams run their three-wide receiver set on the majority of plays, so the third receiver is on the field more than a second tight end or a fullback. Hence, Hamler projects to be a starter for Denver.

While Hamler is not a big receiver, he is a speed demon who is a threat to score on any reception. The 5-foot-9, 178-pounder ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.40 seconds, and he was a home run hitter for Penn State. In 2019, he totaled 56 receptions for 904 yards and eight touchdowns. Hamler notched 42 catches for 754 yards and five scores with one rushing touchdown in 2018. For the NFL, projects as a deep-threat receiver to stretch defenses vertically and is a threat to score on any catch. As a pro, he could be similar to a DeSean Jackson-type receiver.

With the Broncos, Hamler should see some excellent coverage looks. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy should draw attention on the outside with tight end Noah Fant also challenging teams in the middle of the field. Given Drew Lock’s cannon for an arm, Hamler could be a big-play weapon for Denver and end up being a solid starter in the third receiver role.

2019: Drew Lock, QB
2018: Courtland Sutton, WR
2017: Demarcus Walker, DE
2016: Devontae Booker, RB
2015: Jeff Heuerman, TE
2014: Lamin Barrow, LB
2013: Sylvester Williams, DE

Most Likely To Bust

McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas – Round 3
Agim was the only early-round selection for the Broncos who I really disliked. I thought Denver had one of the best drafts in the NFL, making some excellent choices on Days 1, 2 and 3. I loved the Albert Okwuegbunam pick in the fourth round as well as the Justin Strnad selection in the fifth round. Agim was the only selection who I felt was out of place, as many other teams had him graded as a late-rounder, so taking him in the third round seemed like a reach to me.

Other teams felt that Agim was a tweener tackle/end who has some tightness athletically but has some suddenness. At 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, he lacks length to be a 3-4 five-technique defensive end or the bulk to play nose tackle. Thus, he does not seem like a great scheme fit in Denver’s defense, in my opinion.

I also think that Agim could have a hard time earning snaps on the field. The Broncos have veteran Jurrell Casey coming aboard along with other early-round selections on the defensive line. I could see Agim having a difficult time beating out veterans with better skill sets. Thus of Denver’s early-round selections, Agim seems like the pick who has the most bust potential.

2019: Dalton Risner, OT
2018: Isaac Yiadom, CB
2017: Carlos Henderson, WR
2016: Justin Simmons, S
2015: Ty Sambrailo, OT
2014: Bradley Roby, CB
2013: Montee Ball, RB

Potential Boom Pick

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Round 1
This was an easy pick because I think Jeudy could end up being a superb receiver for the Broncos, and he could form a fabulous trio with Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler. It would not surprise me if Jeudy ends up being the best of the three either, as he is a natural playmaker with a ton of ability for the NFL.

The first attribute that jumps out about Jeudy is speed. He is a fast wideout who can break open any game. After his fast first-step, Jeudy has a second gear to accelerate down the field and stretch defenses over the top. He can run by double coverage and score from anywhere on the field. His speed and athleticism allow him to consistently generate separation from defensive backs as he is very difficult to run with. Along with being a vertical threat, Jeudy should be a good third-down weapon in the NFL with his ability to get open on short to intermediate routes.

After the catch, Jeudy is excellent. He is very elusive in the open field with phenomenal feet to dodge tacklers, stop/start, and cut through the secondary. Jeudy’s yards-after-the-catch skills alongside his speed make him very dangerous to turn a short reception into a long gain.

Jeudy shows pretty good technique as a receiver as well. He tracks the ball well and has late hands to reel in passes even with defenders close. While Jeudy is not a pure size mismatch, he has good enough height and shows an ability to make contested catches over defensive backs. There are times when Jeudy body catches when he could use his hands, but that is a minor issue overall. Jeudy has good feel and instincts showing an ability to break off his routes to get open for his quarterback when plays break down.

For the NFL, Jeudy could fit well as a X – split end – receiver who works along the sideline and challenges teams vertically. Sutton could fit in the Y – flanker – receiver while Hamler goes in the slot. Jeudy also is very dangerous on crossing routes and working the middle of the field, but given that he isn’t a big receiver, the Broncos may want to limit him from doing too much work in the middle of the field.

In the NFL, I think Jeudy has the potential to be a Pro Bowl receiver who produces big stat totals while providing a mismatch problem for defenses. With the other receivers in Denver, it will be hard to double team Jeudy on every snap as well. Thus, I think Jeudy could be a real boom pick for the Broncos.

2019: Noah Fant, TE
2018: Bradley Chubb, DE
2017: Garett Bolles, OT
2016: Paxton Lynch, QB
2015: Shane Ray, LB
2014: Cody Latimer, WR
2013: Quanterus Smith, DE

Future Depth Player

Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri – Round 4
This was a difficult selection between third-round cornerback Michael Ojemudia and Okwuegbunam. I went with Okwuegbunam because I think Ojemudia might end up being a starter while Okwuegbunam will be the No. 2 tight end behind Noah Fant. Still, landing Okwuegbunam in the fourth round was an absolute steal for Denver. The Missouri tight end had the best skill set of any tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft and the talent of a first- or second-round pick.

As a receiver, Okwuegbunam (6-5, 258) is dynamic. He has the speed to get down the seam, and his size lets him wall off defenders or make catches over them when they were able to keep him from getting separation. Thus, Okwuegbunam is very difficult to cover, as safeties will struggle with his size while linebackers will have a hard time running with him. Okwuegbunam runs quality routes and is adept at finding the soft spot in zone coverage. He tracks the ball well and shows impressive hands to snatch passes out of the air. With soft hands, Okwuegbunam does not have to body catch and is very calm to make receptions with defenders closing in on him.

I love the fit for Okwuegbunam in Denver, where he will be reunited with his college quarterback, Drew Lock. The two were special together at Missouri, and I believe that Okwuegbunam could be a dynamic mismatch receiving tight end to be paired with Fant. Okwuegbunam also will see a ton of single coverage as defenses will be more concerned with Courtland Sutton, Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, and possibly K.J. Hamler. Thus, it would not shock me if Okwuegbunam offers a huge payoff for Denver and is one of the best third-day values from the 2020 NFL Draft.

2019: Dre’Mont Jones, DT
2018: Daesean Hamilton, WR
2017: Brendan Langley, CB
2016: Connor McGovern, G
2015: Max Garcis, C
2014: Corey Nelson, LB
2013: Kayvon Webster, CB

Walt’s 2020 NFL Draft Grades:

15. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – A+ Grade
Ask three different people whom they believe to be the best receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft class, and you might get three different answers. The Broncos’ answer was Jerry Jeudy all along, and I agree with that. Jeudy’s football IQ is off the charts, and he’s a great route runner. He’ll be an excellent weapon for Drew Lock, and he’s a steal here at No. 15 overall.

46. K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State – B Grade
Another receiver this early? I knew the Broncos would select another wideout on Day 3, but I figured that would come with one of the three third-round selections. Back-to-back picks on wideouts is a bit dubious with Courtland Sutton already there to pair with Jerry Jeudy. I suppose the run on receivers had a bit to do with that, so I don’t hate this decision. The Broncos needed a third receiver, and they now potentially have three studs at the position. If Drew Lock can progress, Denver will have a dynamic offense.

77. Michael Ojemudia, CB, Iowa – D Grade
The Broncos were desperate for a cornerback, but that doesn’t excuse this reach. Michael Ojemudia is someone I’ve constantly mocked in the fifth round area, so I don’t understand why Denver would select him at this juncture. But hey, at least they didn’t trade up for a reach like some of the other teams

83. Lloyd Cushenberry, C, LSU – A- Grade
It doesn’t matter how many talented receivers the Broncos have. If they can’t block for Drew Lock, they won’t win football games. Lloyd Cushenberry fills a big need in this regard, as the Broncos wanted to get better at center. Cushenberry could’ve gone a bit earlier than this without any complaints, so I think this is a very solid choice.

95. McTelvin Agim, DE/DT, Arkansas – C- Grade
I think this is about two rounds early for McTelvin Agim. He could potentially fill a need as a long-term replacement for Derek Wolfe, but he’s a raw player who should’ve been chosen around the fifth round. I like what the Broncos have done for the most part in this draft, but that doesn’t include this pick.

118. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri – B+ Grade
Yet another weapon for Drew Lock! This is a fine one, as Albert Okwuegbunam was once projected to be a first-round pick. This was obviously wrong, and he was eventually corrected to be a third- or fourth-round prospect, but there’s no doubt the potential is there for Okwuegbunam to be a solid starter in the NFL.

178. Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest – D Grade
I didn’t have Justin Strnad in my mock draft. There are some injury issues, and his instincts aren’t very good. The Broncos could’ve drafted a better player.

181. Netane Muti, G, Fresno State – A+ Grade
Netane Muti is a medical nightmare. He would’ve been a second- or third-round pick if healthy, but he has some major health issues. Let’s hope he can play in the NFL. Either way, this is a swing-for-the-fences pick, which I love in the sixth round.

252. Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida – B+ Grade
Tyrie Cleveland had a ton of acclaim coming out of high school, but never lived up to it at Florida. He’s a great athlete, however, so why not take a shot on him with one of the final few picks in the draft?

254. Derrek Tuszka, DE/OLB, North Dakota State – B+ Grade
Derrek Tuszka got himself drafted with a stellar combine. He performed very well in the on-field drills. He could’ve been taken a round earlier, so I think the Broncos got a nice value pick with a player who could contribute defensively at some point. Tuszka will have to do well on special teams in the meantime.

2020 NFL Draft Team Grade: A- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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