As training camp approaches, it's time to turn our attention toward the season. Ahead of the first open training camp practice, we're examining each of the position groups on the Broncos' roster. In our look at each position, we'll fill you in on what we know about the group and what we hope to find out during training camp. We'll also identify a player to watch when practices begin and the preseason gets underway. We continue the series with a look at the Broncos' wide receiver position.
For more information on attending training camp this year, click here.
What we know:
This could finally be what the Broncos envisioned.
For years, injuries have kept Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick apart — and Denver has only seen the core of its wide receiver room on the field together for a portion of the 2021 season. During that stint, the Broncos were still without KJ Hamler, who suffered a season-ending injury early in the year.
Now, the Broncos will have a chance to see its talented wideouts in action together — and there's reason to be excited about the group. Head Coach Sean Payton said Jerry Jeudy would be "a big part of what we do," and he could be poised for his breakout season. Sutton, meanwhile, will look to return to form after posting an 1,000-yard season before a 2020 knee injury.
"That 2019 album he put out was pretty good," Payton said of Sutton in June. "We're looking for another really good soundtrack in 2023."
Both Sutton and Jeudy have watched film of Saints All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas, and they'll aim to add elements of his game to their own.
Patrick and rookie Marvin Mims Jr. — who are discussed in detail below — also figure to be key pieces of the Broncos' offense.
The Broncos' wide receiving corps, though, features plenty of other players capable of making the roster and contributing. Hamler has shown his big-play ability when healthy, and Montrell Washington could take a step in Year 2. Kendall Hinton is a do-it-all player, while Jalen Virgil and Brandon Johnson both showed flashes as rookies. Marquez Callaway flashed with Payton in New Orleans in 2021, and Lil'Jordan Humphrey is another former Saint who could carve out a role. Taylor Grimes, an undrafted rookie, will also do his best to fight for an opportunity.
The bottom line? The Broncos currently have 12 receivers on their 90-man roster, and some teams keep as few as five players at the position. It's more common for teams to have six players in the group, and seven isn't unusual. Still, this could be a position where there are only a few spots up for grabs. In a group where plenty of players have potential, it could come down to who has a standout training camp or big performance in a preseason matchup.
It will be, arguably, the most exciting position battle to watch in training camp.
What we need to learn:
Can Tim Patrick meet his own expectations?
In a 2022 season full of injuries, Patrick's knee injury in training camp may have been the most devastating. Before the season began, the team lost one of its best receivers and one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
But it was about more than when Patrick went down. At the end of the season, several players admitted that the team missed his energy and fire. Patrick's passion was not easily replaced, and it took a toll on the team.
As he prepares to return, that emotional spark will be a welcome addition for the team.
Patrick's mindset was on display during the offseason program, as he made it clear he has high expectations for himself in 2023.
"I've always got something to prove," Patrick said in June. "I think my whole mindset is just being a better version of myself. I see some of the stuff [that media members] say and handicap you your first year and then second year [after the injury is] the best year. I throw all that [stuff] out the window. My best year's going to be right after."
There's certainly no doubting Patrick's ability when he's healthy; from 2020-21, he caught 104 passes for 1,476 yards and 11 touchdowns to lead the team's wide receivers in all three categories.
Similar to Javonte Williams, Patrick will be a critical player to watch in training camp and the preseason as he tries to meet that standard.
If Patrick can thrive, the team will enjoy quite the boost on the field.
Player to watch:
Marvin Mims Jr.
As Payton mentioned in April, the spotlight is not nearly as bright on rookies who aren't selected in the first round — and perhaps that's why Marvin Mims Jr. has flown under the radar for the much of the offseason.
The Broncos' top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is poised to enter his first training camp, and he'll now get an opportunity to demonstrate if he's ready to be a Year 1 contributor.
During his final season at Oklahoma, Mims posted 1,083 yards and six touchdowns as he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. That production, combined with his speed and special teams ability, prompted the Broncos to trade up to add him to their roster with the 63rd-overall pick.
In Denver, Mims will aim to carve out playing time in a crowded position room. While there will likely be a learning curve, there's no denying Mims' speed.
"A lot of these receivers, you felt were in rush-hour traffic Monday through Friday," Payton said during the draft. "His [film] was one that looked like he was driving on Saturday and Sunday. He was open, and it was cleaner. And that's because of his speed."
Mims may also have a chance to contribute on special teams as a returner.
Whether he makes a big return in a preseason game or a highlight play in practice, Mims will be worth keeping an eye on later this summer.
Previous articles in the series: