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20 days, 20 Broncos camp questions -- 12. Who emerges as the No. 3 WR behind Thomas and Sanders?

Posted Jul 19, 2016

Jordan Norwood, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor are the top candidates, but there might not be room for all of them.

It's a tough call, because this could be the most wide-open competition on the roster -- even more so than quarterback.

Jordan Norwood, Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor are the primary names in the mix. Each brings something different to the mix -- Norwood's experience, Latimer's physicality on the outside, Fowler's ability to power through traffic and break tackles down the seams and between the hashmarks and Taylor's uncanny knack for getting open deep and catching long passes in stride.

"We've got one of the most underrated wide receiver corps," wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said.

"That’s a lot of names and not a lot of spots," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said during OTAs.

All rotated up through the second team during OTAs, with a smattering of first-team work for each when Sanders and Demaryius Thomas received respites.

“That’s a good battle," Kubiak said during OTAs. "Cody, Bennie, ‘Sunshine’ (Taylor) and Jordan -- we’re kind of rotating those guys with how they work with the [second team and third team]. That’s going to be a very competitive position.

Even though the Broncos are blessed with two recent Pro Bowlers in Thomas and Sanders, the fact that the biggest catch of the 2015 season might have belonged to Fowler illustrates the depth of the group.

Fowler's 31-yard, third-down catch and run through the middle of Pittsburgh's coverage in the fourth quarter of the divisional-round win last January jump-started the Broncos' drive to their only touchdown; without Fowler's determined journey through Pittsburgh's defense, their season and Peyton Manning's career might have ended that afternoon.

Latimer, a second-round pick two years ago, had six receptions and his first career touchdown during last year's regular season, but needs to take a step forward in his development. The physical tools are there, and a lack of experience is no longer an excuse.

Norwood is the most experienced of the group, and earned the trust of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler last year as the No. 3 option, working primarily from the slot. Few receivers are smarter and maximize their skill set more than Norwood, who is now two years removed from a torn ACL and should be back at full speed.

Taylor -- a.k.a. "Sunshine," to help avoid on-field confusion with Norwood -- was a revelation last summer, earning praise from Peyton Manning as early as last year's OTAs. His outstanding on-field work in practice has continued; he runs good routes, is a long strider who can run away from defenders once he gets downfield and is adept at adjusting to the football in mid-flight, no matter who is throwing it.

"We've liked what he's done," Kubiak said.

Quality isn't an issue for the Broncos at wide receiver. Roster space, however, is.

Last year, the Broncos kept six wide receivers, so it's possible they could keep all four behind Thomas and Sanders. But with the addition of a fullback to the mix, the Broncos will need to make up for that spot somewhere, and if they do that at receiver, then at least one quality contributor will be let go.

Further, the return competition complicates matters. If Bralon Addison, Kalif Raymond or Mose Frazier have a promising summer and prove worthy of return duties, one of them could end up being the sixth receiver on the 53-man roster.

Fowler and Latimer had extensive roles on special teams last season.

"It usually comes down to how well they play for [Special Teams Coordinator] Joe [DeCamillis]," Kubiak said during OTAs.

MORE 20 QUESTIONS:

1. How will they replace Malik Jackson?
2. What will Roby provide in his third year?
3. What's next at long snapper?
4. Will DT have a bounce-back season?
5. What must Heuerman show this summer?
6. Will Green show he can be the No. 1 option at TE?
7. Who could start a new undrafted streak?
8. How long will it take the new OTs to get up to speed?
9. Who could emerge to handle kickoff and punt returns?
10. Who will be the No. 3 safety?
11. Are Barrett and Ray ready for bigger roles?

Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Jordan Norwood, Jordan Taylor