Jerry Jeudy will be the Broncos No. 3 WR in 2022, and that’s just fine
The Jerry Jeudy hype when he was drafted by the Broncos was through the roof.
Outside of just a handful of memorable plays, he hasn’t delivered.
The Broncos took Jeudy No. 15 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft and he’s scored three career touchdowns in 26 games. Exactly zero of those came in 2021, when he played in just 10 games after suffering a Week 1 ankle injury. Jeudy’s final stat line was underwhelming with only 38 receptions and 467 yards. While former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur seemingly ran 200 fake jet sweeps with Jeudy, he actually only rushed two times for three yards.
Of course, a lot of this can be blamed on bad coaching and poor quarterback play, that’s a given. But when the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade earlier this month, the Jeudy fever returned to an all-time high. Fans and media members alike started projecting Jeudy for 1,200 or more yards in 2022 and 10-plus touchdowns. Some went as far to say Jeudy would be a surefire Pro Bowler.
Pump. The. Brakes.
Jeudy may have dazzled at Alabama, but his NFL career thus far has teetered on the bust label. If some Broncos fans treated Jeudy like they do Bradley Chubb, they would have already slapped him with that designation. The touchdown against the Jets on Thursday Night Football in 2020 was cool. The 92-yarder later that year against the Raiders was nice. But outside of those two plays, Jeudy hasn’t exactly been the talk of the town.
In fact, Jeudy seems to garner more chatter about his tweets and practice videos than what he’s doing on Sundays. It’s a problem for a former first-round pick with all kinds of expectations.
But I’m not ready to give up on Jeudy yet. Far from it. I just think Broncos fans need to be realistic about what his role will be this season.
In terms of God-given talent, Jeudy is Denver’s best receiver. In terms of what he’s ready to contribute right now at an NFL level, Jeudy’s No. 3. And that’s fine.
Courtland Sutton was never right in 2021 after tearing his ACL in 2020, but showed in 2019 what he can do. In a Pro Bowl season, Sutton had 72 catches for more than 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. And that was with Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Brandon Allen throwing him the football. If poor QB play was an excuse for Jeudy the last two seasons, why wasn’t it for Sutton in 2019?
The former SMU star has a long way to go before he can be in the conversation with the late, great Demaryius Thomas, but it’s not impossible. The leap “DT” took when Peyton Manning came town was unbelievable. Sutton can make a similar jump going from journeyman QB after journeyman QB to a surefire Hall of Famer in Wilson. Sutton is the clear No. 1 receiver on the Broncos.
And after that, you have to give the nod to Tim Patrick as the team’s No. 2 wideout. Patrick has overcome a lot to even be in the NFL, and he’s thriving. He’s been the team’s most consistent receiver the last two seasons and was compensated handsomely with a three-year, $30M deal just four months ago.
In 2020, with Sutton sidelined for almost the whole year, Patrick caught 51 passes for 742 yards and six touchdowns. In 2021, with Jeudy M.I.A and hurt, Patrick hauled in 53 passes for 734 yards and five touchdowns. That is remarkable consistency from a guy that was an afterthought for Broncos fans just two years ago.
Sutton’s earned the right to be Wilson’s No. 1 target and Patrick’s earned the right to be the No. 2 option. I’m not ready to give up on Jeudy yet, but he’s going to have to earn a bigger role in this offense. Why are football fans so obsessed with where a guy was drafted rather than his production? Jeudy can play in the NFL, and help the Broncos win, but his draft number shouldn’t dictate his role.
That should be based on production, and right now, Jerry Jeudy is the No. 3 receiving option on the Broncos. And with the raw talent he possesses, that’s a darn good “problem” for the Broncos to have.