Head Coach Gary Kubiak has spoken at length about the importance of the team's youth in his eyes, and a big part of that could be Cody Latimer, the team's second-round selection in the 2014 draft.
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With two Pro Bowl receivers starting on the wings and a steep learning curve for young wide receivers in an offense like the Broncos' complex former system, Latimer didn't see much time on the field last year. Kubiak said he's looking for that to change in 2015.
"I think it's time for him to make a big jump, not just a little jump," Kubiak said from the media availability at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "I think it's time for him to make a big jump and how we end up being built at receiver—I know that [WR] Wes [Welker] is still [a] free [agent] and there are some things that still need to pan out—but obviously his play time is fixing to pick up and it needs to pick up. We need him to make a big jump."
Latimer showed tons of potential as an athletic receiver with good size, which attracted Kubiak's eyes last year from the Ravens' offices when they were preparing for the draft.
"He came by the office the other day. I thought a lot about him coming out [of college]. I spent a lot of time with him in Baltimore," Kubiak said, reflecting on last year's draft. "We were very interested in him going into the draft, so I knew him very well. It's funny. I told him in Baltimore, 'Hey, we might not end up with you, but our paths may cross some day.' He walked into my office and said, 'Hell, I didn't know it would be this quick.' He's a fine player. He showed a lot of flashes from me watching him in practice."
As Kubiak and his staff prepare to grow roles for the younger players on the roster, he looks at Latimer's rookie season and understands where it might have come from and how he can connect to the young wide receiver and other players beginning their NFL careers.
View photos of the Broncos' second-round pick, Cody Latimer.
"I think every player is different. I wouldn't say that I coach a 15-year veteran [differently] than I do a rookie, but I think how you go get the best out of each one of them," Kubiak said. "You have to figure that out. You take a guy like [WR] Cody [Latimer]. I can imagine Cody walks into the huddle in Day One with Peyton Manning as a rookie, and that's probably a pretty big task. It's your job as a coach knowing what you have there talent-wise to calm him down, gain his confidence and put him in positions to be successful. How close can he get to where Peyton's been throughout the course of his career from a confidence standpoint and with his teammates standpoint."
Being able to connect with players of differing levels of experience and backgrounds is something Kubiak says he understands and recognizes when trying to help each player recognize their potential.
"I think all players are different from that view," he added. "You've got to mesh them all together. That's the key. Be as good as you can be. I've got to get my hands on him now and see where we go. I know there is a lot of talent there and he needs to get out this season catching a lot of balls and making a lot of plays for our football team."