The AFC West appears to be a gauntlet of a division and the Denver Broncos are prepared to fight through it with quarterback Russell Wilson.
Broncos general manager George Paton took the job in 2021 and has replenished the franchise with quality players, young and old.
With a win-now roster, there will be eyes on certain players whose careers could be hanging in the balance if they don’t perform well in 2022.
Writer Highlights 3 Veterans
Mile High Huddle’s Mike Evans wrote an article on three veterans that will be tested “under intense pressure” for the upcoming season. He put outside linebacker Malik Reed, 2020 first-round pick wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland in that category.
Reed has shown productivity ever since he signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2019. As a rookie, Reed had eight starts and posted 27 combined tackles and two sacks. In 2020, he led the Broncos in sacks (8.0) and garnered 33 pressures. Last season, he saw plenty of playing time due to the injury and departure of Von Miller and injury to Bradley Chubb. Reed nabbed five sacks and also led the Broncos in pressures (22).
However, Evans thinks the addition of Randy Gregory and second-round draft pick Nik Bonitto could force a backseat to Reed’s playing time
“After Gregory’s signing, Paton was not done reloading the rush linebacker position, drafting Nik Bonitto in the second round and moving Baron Browning from inside to outside linebacker,” Evans wrote. “Reed is a player new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero can count on. Reed understands his assignments and plays at a consistent level. Unless the injury Grim Reaper returns, Reed will be in a dogfight for playing time.”
Cleveland and Jeudy’s situations are a bit different. Cleveland’s a 2020 seventh-round pick and was mainly used as a special teamer in 2021. Jeudy, who was drafted 15th overall in 2020, hasn’t lived up to his expectations as he missed seven games in 2021 due to an ankle injury and a COVID-19 stint. He’s caught 90 receptions and 1,323 yards in his first two seasons and didn’t record a touchdown last season.
But all of that is in the past now. With Wilson entering the fold, Jeudy is happy that the 33-year-old quarterback will lead the team moving forward.
“Every detail matters with him,” Jeudy said at his youth football camp, via ABC 7 Denver’s Troy Renck. “You learn a lot, just how hard he works and how focused he is when he’s on the field and on the board. You realize how locked in he is. I’ve learned a lot. He’s a great quarterback. I am excited to play with him.”
Pivotal Year for Jeudy
Jeudy’s currently the No. 2 wideout on the depth chart with Courtland Sutton ahead of him and Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler and Cleveland behind him. Harris doesn’t believe there’s any chance of Jeudy not being with the Broncos for the 2022 season.
However, Harris added that “the seat could be getting a bit warm as the Broncos have not seen the expected production of a former No. 15 overall draft pick.”
The Broncos just haven’t seen the same Jeudy that scored 24 touchdowns during his last two seasons with Alabama. Fortunately for Jeudy, the inconsistent quarterback play from former Broncos Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater won’t be evident with Wilson.
The 33-year-old is the only quarterback with a 100-plus passer rating in each of the last four seasons, according to NFL on CBS.