By Chad Jensen
(247 SPORTS) – After feeling like they won the NFL Draft lottery in round one, the Denver Broncos entered the second round looking to fill some roster needs. There were a multitude of options to start round two, but several guys whom we know the Broncos had their eye on began dropping off the board once the starting gun was fired.
First-round graded offensive guards Austin Corbett and Will Hernandez went back-to-back to start round two, while Georgia running back (and cousin to Denver’s No. 5 overall pick Bradley) Nick Chubb went shortly after. That eliminated three prospects under heavy consideration by the Broncos for their second round pick.
However, despite seeing immense value prospects drop off the board — just out of reach — GM John Elway had another player in mind who could not only come in and make an immediate impact, but also fill a roster need.
With the No. 40 overall pick, the Broncos selected SMU wideout Courtland Sutton. Sutton checks in at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, and has a basketball background.
Some Draft analysts had Sutton ranked as WR1 in the 2018 Draft class, although he ended up being the third wideout off the board behind D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley. Why did Sutton slip to the second round?
Sutton’s fall was likely due to his underdeveloped route tree and lack of explosive speed. However, the big-bodied wideout posted a 4.54 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, so it’s not like he’s some slow-poke. The Broncos got good value in the second round, as all of Mile High Huddle’s Draft analysts had Sutton ranked in the top-40.
Regardless of how Sutton might be perceived by some in the scouting community — and why he slipped into round two — he brings tremendous value to the Broncos and like first-rounder Bradley Chubb, can make an immediate impact as a rookie.
What does the Sutton pick mean for Denver?
The Broncos not only need a No. 3 wideout who can step in and play right away, but also a succession plan to the ever-aging Demaryius Thomas. With Carlos Henderson heading into his second year, Denver conceivably now has a future replacement for both Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
And if Henderson, who struggled to pick up the playbook as a rookie and was arrested for marijuana possession in January, fails to turn the corner the way the team hopes, Elway hedged his bet with the addition of Courtland Sutton.
Denver also lost 2014 second-round wideout Cody Latimer to free agency in March, making depth at the position a major concern. Elway’s track record in the second round, with the exception of Derek Wolfe, is underwhelming.
While the jury might still be out on Adam Gotsis (2016) and DeMarcus Walker (2017), Elway’s second round resume is replete with busts like Latimer, Montee Ball, and Ty Sambrailo. Don’t let that tarnish your perception of Denver’s 2018 second round pick, though.
Character, passion for the game, and football IQ might not have been strong suits of the busted players listed above, but Elway seems to be making it a point to ensure that those attributes are present in Denver’s high-round picks this time around. Both Bradley Chubb and Courtland Sutton are humble (for being elite athletes), hungry and hard-working young prospects, which will be a welcome influence in the locker room.
Combine those intangibles with Sutton’s phenomenal physical talent and tools, and the Broncos might have something this time around. Sutton immediately steps in and provides Case Keenum with a potent redzone target, and a guy who can come down with 50/50 balls.
If the ball is thrown high in Sutton’s direction, if anybody’s coming down with it, it’s him. Plus, as a former basketball player, he knows how to utilize his size to ‘box out’ defenders to make the catch.
New wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni can work with Sutton to help him hone his route-running technique. But even while he’s learning and developing at the next level, right out of the gates, the Broncos have a guy on their hands that they can rely on to go make a play — just based on his talent and athleticism alone.