For wide receiver (and former quarterback) Kendall Hinton, the chance to play with Russell Wilson this offseason has been much more than an opportunity to play with a Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler.
Having grown up not far from Wilson's first college home at N.C. State, Hinton hoped to be the next undersized quarterback to star for North Carolina State University, he told The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider.
"I idolized Russ coming up," Hinton said. "That was my position. I was a quarterback, 5-foot-10. He went to NC State, and I was from Durham, 15 minutes away. So that was somebody I always followed coming up. So this is pretty unreal."
Hinton made his transition from quarterback to receiver in college, and as a pro in 2021, he played in 16 games, starting one. He made 15 receptions for 175 yards and caught a touchdown. With a single catch for a 40-yard gain in Week 9 vs. Dallas, Hinton recorded his longest reception and set a season high in receiving yards.
"Kendall is doing an amazing job," Wilson said during the offseason. "He has a special gift — his gift of getting open, his wiggle and his ability to accelerate and make plays. I remember watching the film … of the Cowboys game. He caught a skinny post route and just took off. His ability to get open, his ability to make plays near the red zone and how he catches it, he's got that football instinct. It's the quarterback in him."
As Kosmider writes, that quote "probably would have made the middle school version of Hinton drop his jaw to the floor."
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Given the Broncos' depth at receiver, the competition at the position will be heated this offseason. As former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew writes, all eyes will be on how Wilson targets his wideouts during training camp and beyond.
"Russell Wilson loved his deep-threat receivers, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, in Seattle," Jones-Drew wrote. "A great route runner and 2020 first-round pick, [Jerry] Jeudy should be Wilson's first read on many concepts. [Courtland] Sutton is a great asset for Wilson opposite Jeudy. The big-bodied wideout is a mismatch over the middle and still has the speed to get downfield and pick up yards after contact. Look for [KJ] Hamler to occupy a big role in the slot once he's recovered from a dislocated hip and torn ACL he suffered last season, while [Tim] Patrick, who signed a three-year extension in November, will be a valuable WR3. All of these players will undoubtedly benefit from having Wilson under center."