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Fifteen players to watch at Broncos training camp -- 14. Isaiah McKenzie

Posted Jul 13, 2017

Small and quick, the rookie wide receiver and punt returner gives the offense another chess piece with which to work.

Nearly a decade and a half after the Chiefs popularized the notion of having an "X-factor" like Dante Hall in their offense and on special teams, the Broncos hope to extract that from their offense. However, creating that sort of game-changing explosiveness sometimes requires multiple players.

One component of that equation could be fifth-round pick Isaiah McKenzie. The 5-foot-7, 173-pound fifth-round pick has unique quickness and agility that makes him a potential game-breaking weapon as an inside receiving target, a runner on jet and fly sweeps and as a punt returner.

McKenzie flourished in all of those roles at Georgia, and scored once every seven offensive touches last season. He showed promise during OTAs and minicamp when given opportunities to handle the football in all of those situations, including one play where he took a short slant, burst upfield and scored.

Despite his small frame, McKenzie possesses what Head Coach Vance Joseph described in May as "big-man ball skills," and then spent the offseason practices displaying them.

"He has a skill set that we could use him in a lot of places," Joseph said last month. "He’s exciting. He’s a smart guy. He’s a tough guy. So we’re excited about him."

While he should have a multi-faceted role, his first chance for an impact is likely to come on punt returns, a discipline in which he set Georgia's all-time record for touchdowns (five). But what worked with the Bulldogs won't necessarily succeed in the NFL, even though he had success in the rigorous SEC.

"When he got to us, he was a good catcher. As you guys know, it’s a little bit different here in the NFL," Special Teams Coordinator Brock Olivo told media in June. "He’s going to have gunners in his face at times, [punt protectors] in his face at times, so we have to get him comfortable back there and get him to trust the system. He has to trust that it’s going to be there.

"The thing that I love about Isaiah is that he’s got all the confidence in the world in himself. I think he’s going to be just fine."

Isaiah McKenzie