The Denver Broncos played their preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and undrafted rookie wide receiver Jalen Virgil was a clear standout.
Virgil had three receptions for a game-high 83 receiving yards. His biggest play was a 42-yard reception down the sideline.
Following the game, fellow rookie Montrell Washington raved about Virgil’s speed.
“Now, I’m fast, but Jalen is faaaast, fast,” Washington said per The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider. “A lot of people don’t know. You press (No. 17), you’re liable to get burned immediately. Jalen has world-class speed. I know I’m fast, but Jalen is moving, for real.”
That is high praise coming from Washington. Washington has elite speed himself. He showcased that speed against the Cowboys, as he returned two punts for 45 yards.
Virgil is a special athlete.
The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman ranked Virgil fourth on his 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,” Feldman wrote. “This offseason he’s added a sumo deadlift of 600 pounds to his hefty résumé.”
At his Pro Day, Virgil ran a blazing 4.37-second 40-yard dash.
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Virgil Is Trying to Make the Most Out of His Opportunity
Virgil is trying to make the most out of every opportunity he gets.
“It’s very important,” Virgil said per team reporter Ellie Kinney. “I’ve always been big on just taking advantage of every opportunity that I’m given. We have a lot of talent in the receiver room, so for me it’s just going out there every time and just trying to make a play every time I get a chance.”
The Broncos Will Face Some Tough Roster Decisions at WR
The Broncos will have to make some difficult decisions at the wide receiver position. On Saturday, Virgil, Brandon Johnson, Kendall Hinton, and Seth Williams all looked impressive. Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, and Washington are obvious locks to make the 53-man roster, and it is unlikely that the team will carry eight wide receivers. Last season, the Broncos had five wide receivers on their initial 53-man roster (Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler, Tim Patrick, and Diontae Spencer).
Due to the talent at the position, the front office could raise that number this season and make an additional cut at another position. For example, the Broncos could elect to carry only three running backs (Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon III, Mike Boone) in order to keep an extra wide receiver. No running back stood out on Saturday, and the team can keep a fourth option on their practice squad. Meanwhile, players like Virgil or Johnson are riskier to cut, as other teams could have interest.
The front office would be wise to not let Virgil walk. He is a rookie, and he has flashed immense upside in his short time with the team. This one-handed grab remains one of the highlights of training camp.
The wide receiver battle should remain competitive for the remainder of the preseason.