Broncos Sign All-Conference Return Man: Report

Jalen Virgil Broncos

Getty Jalen Virgil scores a 60-yard touchdown.

The Denver Broncos have signed Appalachian State wide receiver Jalen Virgil, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Virgil’s contract includes a $12,500 signing bonus and $30,000 guaranteed.

Virgil was an explosive return man at Appalachian State. For his career, he had three kick return touchdowns and averaged a blistering 30.1 yards per kick return. In 2021, he was selected to the All-Sun Belt second team as a return specialist.

I expect Virgil to compete for the kick returner job with veteran Trey Quinn and fifth-round pick Montrell Washington.

Beyond his return ability, Virgil has upside as a receiver. He had 11 receiving touchdowns during his college career.

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Virgil Is an Athletic ‘Freak’

Virgil is an exceptional athlete.

The Athletic ranked Virgil fourth on their 2021 college football freaks list behind only Evan Neal, Aidan Hutchison, and Kyle Hamilton.

A fixture on this list, the 6-1, 210-pound senior, who in 2020 was third-team All-Sun Belt as a return specialist, has run a 10.29 100 for the App State track team and vertical jumped 40.5 inches, broad jumped 10-11, bench pressed 405 and knocked out 345 pounds in a close-grip bench press. This offseason he’s added a sumo deadlift of 600 pounds to his hefty résumé.

That athleticism was on full display at Virgil’s pro day, as he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash.

In his draft profile, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted Virgil’s athleticism, and he wrote that Virgil could transition to running back.

Height, weight, speed prospect with impressive top-end speed and testing numbers. At this time, Virgil is a better athlete than wide receiver. He’s a below-average route-runner with a lack of consistent ball skills, which can make it hard to project future success down the field. While the hands might never get there for him, he can be a real handful when he’s in run-and-catch mode or returning kicks. If he fails to impress enough as a receiver, teams could give him a look at running back based upon his play traits and size.


Broncos Sign WR Brandon Johnson

Virgil is not the only wide receiver that the Broncos signed today. According to Wilson, they also agreed to a deal with Central Florida’s Brandon Johnson.

Johnson began his college career at Tennessee before transferring to Central Florida. Last season, he had 38 receptions for a career-high 565 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline projects Johnson to be a “fifth wideout” in the NFL.

Johnson is a small possession receiver with long arms, big hands, and the ability to line up as a fifth wideout on Sundays.

Johnson is a dark horse candidate at punt returner, as well. Johnson returned a punt for a touchdown at Tennessee in 2019. However, Johnson lacks Virgils’s game-breaking speed.

Johnson is the son of Charles Johnson, who enjoyed a successful career as a catcher in the MLB. Charles Johnson was selected to two All-Star teams (1997, 2001), and he won four Gold Glove Awards (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998).

Charles Johnson has a connection to the state of Colorado, as well. He played for the Rockies from 2003 to 2004.

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