BRONCOS

Broncos have Sutton and not much else at WR, Paton needs to get busy

Sep 27, 2022, 6:00 AM
Courtland Sutton...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Wide receiver was supposed to be a position of strength for the Denver Broncos.

Then the worst part of training camp happened. Tim Patrick went down in pain, grabbing his knee and the golf cart came out to get him. I was about 35 yards away when the situation unfolded.

As Patrick took the ride no NFL player wants to take, you could tell. The look on his face said it all. It was painfully obvious that Patrick had torn his ACL. An MRI a few hours later confirmed the terrible news.

The day Patrick was lost, this Broncos offense got a lot worse. He was Denver’s most consistent wideout the last two seasons. And he was doing it with a variety of mediocre to bad quarterbacks. Patrick blossomed into a serviceable NFL receiver before our eyes, and just like that, his season was done.

KJ Hamler has been MIA the first three games of the season. He’s only played in two of them, but might as well have been inactive for all three. Hamler’s yet to record a catch. And while his strength and courage to open up about his very real mental health struggles after two devastating injuries was admirable, it’s clear he still has work to do to return to his previous form.

Jerry Jeudy’s first three games look a lot like his whole career. There’s boom or bust potential, with a lot more bust than boom. His long touchdown in Seattle showcased everything fans get excited about. The blazing speed, the route running, all of it. But after an injury in Week 2 limited him to just one catch, he had just two receptions for 17 yards against the 49ers on Sunday night.

Will Jeudy ever live up to the hype he had as a first-round pick out of Alabama? It’s unclear. He has just four career touchdowns, including a whopping zero in 2021. He’s not a dreaded draft bust yet, but the key word is yet. He’s unfortunately trending in that direction.

Which brings us to Russell Wilson’s only good (and consistent) receiving option of the 2022 season through three contests. That’s Courtland Sutton. The former SMU star’s been a beast. He has 19 catches for 291 yards, easily leading the team in both categories.

Against the Texans, especially after Jeudy got hurt, it was Sutton and then the end of the world. Versus San Francisco, it was more of the same. Sutton caught eight passes for 97 yards. The next highest wide receiver in terms of yards was Kendall Hinton, and that was with just 27. He gained all of those on one play. The next highest catch number was Jeudy, with his lousy two. Wilson hit running back Melvin Gordon for five passes, but those only racked up 29 yards.

You get the point. The Broncos’ receiving group is dangerously thin. If Jeudy can’t become more consistent and Hamler more healthy, Denver could be in trouble. Wilson doesn’t have any options he seems to trust besides Sutton. Again, a large part of this is the Patrick injury, but that’s the NFL.

So general manager George Paton better get busy. Whether that be a trade or a free agent, Wilson desperately needs help. And sometimes another team’s trash can be a new team’s treasure.

Take former CU star Laviska Shenault Jr. for example. He was traded from the Jaguars to the Panthers in a deal that got little attention. Shenault led Carolina in receiving on Sunday, including hauling in a 67-yard touchdown pass. There are guys buried on other team’s depth charts that Paton needs to call about.

And if that route doesn’t work, Paton needs to start working Odell Beckham Jr. and his agent. The former Rams wideout was on his way to being Super Bowl MVP last year before tearing his ACL. It’s clear there’s still plenty left in that tank. And with Beckham now more than eight months removed from the injury, he should be back on the football field soon. Pick up the phone, George.

The reality is the Broncos are lucky to be 2-1. The defense has willed them to a couple of victories, and nearly three. But thus far, the offense hasn’t done its part. And a lot of that is the lack of talent at wide receiver.

It’s time for Paton to be proactive and fix this problem. There’s too much invested in Wilson to keep ignoring it.

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Broncos have Sutton and not much else at WR, Paton needs to get busy