The NFL 2020 Draft was the only show in town April 24-26, prompting enormous interest amongst starving sports fans nationwide. The draft was also historic because it took place without a live audience, as head coaches and player personnel executives made their selections electronically from the comfort of their own homes in lieu of the coronavirus.
So, John Elway, from his makeshift war room at his residence in Englewood, threw a couple of bombs that could potentially transform an under-performing Broncos offense into one of the league’s most prolific scoring machines.
More specifically, Elway seemingly provided second-year quarterback Drew Lock with what one might call an embarrassment of riches in rounds one and two of the draft by landing a pair of speedy, high profile and highly-touted wide receivers for the young quarterback to throw to next season and beyond.
First pick Jerry Jeudy was widely considered to be the most complete receiver in a draft class that was historically deep at that position. That pick sent shock waves of excitement through Bronco Nation, as the University of Alabama star was expected to be selected before the Broncos first draft slot at number 15 overall.
Never had Denver selected a receiver that high in the first round, just as they had never selected back-to-back receivers in the first two rounds of the draft. But this year proved an exception, as the Broncos selected K.J. Hamler, a lightening-quick slot receiver from Penn State, with their second pick at 46th overall.
Those additions, playing alongside fellow receiver Courtland Sutton, should be enough to jump start an offense that ranked in the bottom five of the league in 2019 with a woeful scoring average of less than 18 pointes per game.
Sutton has already established himself as a Pro Bowl-caliber pass catcher, and the addition of Jeudy and Hamler could give opposing defensive coordinators significant heartburn for the foreseeable future. Both draftees are established playmakers from high-profile college programs, and both have shown the ability to score any time, from any point on the field, with stunning regularity.
Jeudy, who scouts revere as the best pure route-runner in this year’s draft, also covers 40 yards in 4.46 seconds. His second-round counterpart, Hamler, runs a blistering 4.27 and excelled at returning punts for Penn State.
Throw in second-year tight end, Noah Fant, who had one of the most productive rookie campaigns in history at that position last year, and the table appears set for a quantum leap forward in terms of offensive production.
Broncos fans should take a moment to Google college highlights for both Jeudy and Hamler. If those highlight reels don’t get your blood pumping with excitement and optimism, then check your pulse because you might be dead.
The Broncos continued to fill positions of need with two picks in the third round of the draft, taking an offensive lineman (center) from Louisiana State University, and a defensive tackle from the University of Arkansas.
The complete list of new Broncos obtained through seven rounds of 2020 Draft were as follows:
Round 1, No. 15 overall: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama.
Round 2, No. 46 overall: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State.
Round 3, No. 83 overall: Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU.
Round 3, No. 95 overall: McTelvin Agim, DT, Arkansas.
Round 4, No. 118 overall: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri.
Round 5, No. 178 overall: Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forrest.
Round 6, No. 181 overall: Netane Muti, OG, Fresno State.
Round 7, No. 252 overall: Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida.
Round 7, No. 254 overall: Derrek Tuszka, OLB, North Dakota State.
The Broncos also made a number of improvements in free agency this season. Notable additions acquired from other teams included, but are not limited to, Melvin Gordon III, running back from the San Diego Chargers; Graham Glascow, offensive guard from the Detroit Lions; A.J. Bouye, cornerback from Jacksonville; and Jurrell Casey, defensive end from the Tennessee Titans. Each of these veterans figure to be starters from day one for the Broncos.
It is anticipated that at least five new starters will be featured in the revamped offense that will be under the direction of new offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur. The additions of high-profile rookies and free agents on that side of the ball, coupled by Lock’s leading the way to a 4-1 record in five starts last season, understandably has Denver fans buzzing with anticipation headed into the 2020-2021 season.
The flurry of activity in free agency, combined with splashy draft picks Jeudy and Hamler, indicates that the Broncos believe they finally have their franchise quarterback and that they are willing to invest heavily in his future. Those moves also suggest that Elway and Company, following an uncharacteristic four-year absence from the playoffs, are in a “win now” frame of mind.
I, for one, welcome the bold, aggressive approach to roster-building the Broncos adopted during the offseason and during the recent draft.
Let’s not wait another minute. Winning now suits me just fine. How about you, sports fans?