Jeff Demps: Olympic Silver Medalist Perfect Fit for Broncos' Kick-Return Opening
With the Olympics ending just days ago, Jeff Demps, the talented 4x100 relay runner for Team USA and former running back and more importantly kick returner for the University of Florida has earned a silver medal, but he also signed with an agent and is looking for a team to play for in 2012.
Enter the Denver Broncos.
During the offseason, the Broncos let Eddie Royal leave in free agency, and since then there hasn't been any clear choice to pick up the kick-return duties. This is where Demps would come in.
While he would add depth in an already crowded stable of running backs, Demps would also give the Broncos an immediate threat on special teams returning kicks.
Last season at the University of Florida, Demps rushed for 569 yards and six touchdowns, capping off a collegiate career totaling 2,470 yards rushing and with 23 touchdowns. The bigger stat that the Broncos would be interested in is his 28.8-yard average returning kicks in a very competitive SEC.
One of his 10 returns last season went 99 yards for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic University last September. He totaled 250 yards for an average of 25 yards per return.
The report that Demps was looking to play professional football this season first came by Ian Rapoport with NFL Network in a tweet earlier today:
Breaking: Olympic silver medalist & ex-Florida star Jeff Demps will play football in 2012, per source. Filed paperwork with @nfl.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 14, 2012
Who is the Broncos' best option to return kicks in 2012?
The Denver Broncos' depth chart currently lists RB Lance Ball and WR Matthew Willis as the starter and backup at kick returner. Neither have really shown that they can offer very much in their returning abilities throughout their four- and five-year careers, respectively. Personally, I don't have much confidence in their capabilities at this point.
Bringing in Demps, however, as a special teams specialist would instantly upgrade that position, which can at times change the course of the game if a player breaks free. Even last season, after the NFL moved the kickoff spot closer to the opposing team's end zone, many returners still attempted returns, averaging 23.77 yards per return in 2011 compared to 22.34 yards per return in 2010.
The Broncos finished in the middle of the pack in yards per return in 2011 with 24.6 yards per return (13th in the NFL). The Broncos didn't have any kick returns for touchdowns. Matthew Willis had eight attempts for a meager 163 yards, averaging 20.4 yards per return in 2011.
Eric Decker, however, had two returns for 50 yards last season, but the Broncos don't figure to be using him except in emergencies to return kicks in 2012 for injury reasons. Lance Ball's solo attempt last season went for just nine yards.
Demps would definitely give the Broncos an edge returning kicks this season on a roster without a clear standout. Elway, Fox and company should try him out to see if he fits their mold, Olympic medal and all.
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