Denver Broncos brass was disheartened when Courtland Sutton fell victim to a season-ending knee injury early in 2020. In what was expected to develop into one of the top young wideout tandems in football alongside first-rounder Jerry Jeudy, plans ultimately had to be put on hold.
Now healthy, one can only wonder just how high the ceiling of expectation should be when projecting each wideout's success as we steamroll into the fall. While major questions still remain under center where Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater are expected to compete for the starting nod in camp, less amount of uncertainty surrounds the expected workload out wide, where the two thoroughbred talents will serve as the clear 1-2 punch in Denver’s passing attack; but who will lead the pack?
The Case For Courtland Sutton
As it’s hard to ignore who in fact ends up as the starter when the Broncos travel to the Meadowlands in Week 1, the experience and prior production from the fourth-year man out of SMU offers a nice floor when eyeing his ideal role within an impressive group of offensive talent in Denver.
Sutton was outstanding in Lock’s rookie year of 2019, totaling 1,112 yards on 72 receptions with six touchdowns, culminating in his first Pro Bowl selection. Whether he can re-establish his relationship with Lock remains in question, but if Denver opts for the veteran journeyman in Bridgewater, who boosted both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson’s production last year in Carolina, it’s safe to say Sutton’s target share won’t take a massive hit with the emergence of Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and KJ Hamler.
At 6-foot-4 and a tick over 215 pounds, Sutton has all the fundamental tools to work back to dominance. Add in his innate ability to produce in tight confines and elite footwork to drift away from opposing corners, and Sutton has the potential to become one of the league’s most heavily targeted pass-catchers.
The Case For Jerry Jeudy
You want flash, you got it in Jerry Jeudy. The former all-everything at the University of Alabama, Jeudy wasted no time in making his presence felt on Sundays, finishing in the top five in targets (113), receiving yards (856), and yards per reception (16.5) among all first-year wideouts. While his speed and devastatingly quick footwork are enough to make opposing corners crumble in coverage, where Jeudy eyes the most progression in his second season is pre-snap, where his studying habits will look to open up further opportunity to gain yards in chunks as defenses slowly shift their eyes to his side in coverage.
Within a rather impressive Broncos offense, the cream of the crop sits on the outside in the two elite pass-catching talents, who will ultimately end up complementing each other as the weeks run o
“Being able to watch [Jeudy] from a distance was nice, but now, being able to watch those things that I saw on film, I wish I could have asked him in those moments,” Sutton recently said. “Now, I get to go in, and if I see something, I can say, ‘What made you do it like this? Alright, cool. Try it like this and see what happens differently.’ We get to pinball ideas off each other because I steal things from him as well.”
One of the two will reign supreme as Denver’s top threat on the outside. A verdict as to who will progress into the moniker of WR1 for the Broncos as we stand in mid-June is a tough ask for two of the premier young wideout talents. Rather than singling out one as the biggest beneficiary, let’s stick long-term, as a once depleted Denver receiver room has now found itself overflowing with young talent on the cusp of NFL prosperity, mastheaded by two of the league’s most budding talents.