Denver Broncos: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at WR
With Manning at the controls, the team set several offensive records last year. They could attack those numbers again in 2014.
The Broncos and many of their fans would beg to differ.
But the team also has plenty of depth at the position, including several young players looking to find a role on the team. That could make for an interesting training camp.
Here we will take a closer look at the depth chart at the wide receiver position. How many of these guys will the Broncos choose to keep?
11. Greg Wilson
Greg Wilson probably never thought his football career would go past his college days at Fordham.
During their postseason run last year, however, the Broncos added him to their practice squad. Prior to that, he was working a desk job in California.
Wilson will probably be one of the hardest working players seen in training camp and preseason games this year, but he faces an uphill climb to make the team.
His best bet will be to lock down a spot on the practice squad. If not, it's likely back to the salesman position in California.
10. Nathan Palmer
Nathan Palmer stands just under six feet tall and played college ball at Northern Illinois University. He has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins since going undrafted.
Palmer has mainly been relegated to practice squads for his NFL career, but he has made a regular season appearance for the Colts.
In Denver, he will almost certainly be vying for a position on their practice squad. There's just too much good talent in front of him.
9. Bennie Fowler
The Broncos nabbed Bennie Fowler as a free agent after he went undrafted out of Michigan State.
Fowler brings some intriguing skills to the NFL after catching 93 passes during his four-year college career. First and foremost is his impressive speed.
Fowler ran a 4.35 second 40-yard dash at Michigan State's pro day according to CBS Sports. On top of that, he has the ability to make catches that many receivers simply can't.
Still, he will likely have to show he can contribute on special teams if he wants to have any chance of making the final roster.
8. Greg Hardin
Greg Hardin is one of the real sleepers to watch this offseason. What he lacks in size (5'10", 171 lbs), he makes up for in speed and athleticism.
The Broncos need someone who can contribute on special teams as a kickoff and punt returner, and Hardin may be their guy.
During his college career at North Dakota, he averaged 26.2 yards per kick return, bringing three back for touchdowns. He will certainly get to show what he can do in that area as camp rolls along.
But unlike Trindon Holliday, Hardin can also be very effective on offense as a receiver. During his junior and senior seasons combined, he caught 132 passes for 2,298 yards and 19 touchdowns.
In other words, he's a versatile guy, and that's exactly what the Broncos need.
Look for Hardin to hang around until the final round of roster cuts, when the team will likely decide between him and Isaiah Burse for the final wide receiver spot.
The other could easily become part of the team's practice squad.
7. Jordan Norwood
Jordan Norwood has been in the NFL since 2009 and comes to the Broncos with experience.
Norwood has had two stints with the Cleveland Browns while also spending time with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. The Broncos brought him in following the 2013-14 season to see if he has anything to offer.
The Browns are the only team with which Norwood ever saw the field, and his biggest contribution came in 2011 when he played in 14 games, catching 23 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown.
In Denver, he will find it very tough to resurrect his career.
Norwood is stuck in the middle of a star-studded group at the wide receiver position and a great crop of young players hungry to make the squad.
Norwood won't last long. It's somewhat surprising he's even there now.
6. Isaiah Burse
Another undrafted free agent the Broncos were able to sign may be one of the biggest diamonds in the rough that any team came across this offseason: Isaiah Burse.
He is an explosive player who can help the Broncos in more ways than one.
At Fresno State, Burse got better each year he was there. Last year, Burse pulled in 100 catches for 1,026 yards and six touchdowns.
He also averaged 22.5 yards per kickoff return during his college career.
The Broncos could use a playmaker on special teams, and they have certainly found one in Burse. Much like Greg Hardin, he is just as important as a wide receiver—if not more.
The Broncos will find it very hard to part ways with Burse, who has the ability to become a special player. An exciting competition should develop in training camp between he and Hardin for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
5. Cody Latimer
Cody Latimer lands at No. 5 on our depth chart, but he won't be there for long. The Broncos have very high hopes for their second-round draft pick out of Indiana.
Latimer possesses very good hands to go along with his 6'2", 215-pound frame. He is also an excellent blocker from the wide receiver position.
Since the Broncos have the luxury of a very deep group at wide receiver, expect to see them integrate Latimer gradually into the offense. However, once he has it down, he has all the ability to be a very productive No. 2 receiver in the NFL.
4. Andre Caldwell
Raise your hand if you thought Andre Caldwell would make the team last year after an extremely disappointing 2012-13 season.
Caldwell improved on that season last year by catching 16 passes, three of which culminated in scores. Still, he hasn't been able to produce the way he did in Cincinnati during the early part of his career.
Perhaps this is the year he will.
3. Emmanuel Sanders
The Broncos were active in free agency this offseason, signing DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward to strengthen their defense.
For the offense, the signing of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was every bit as important.
Not only does Sanders soften the blow of losing Eric Decker, he makes the team even better for one major reason—the deep ball.
Decker was never able to get behind defensive backs to give Peyton Manning the long-ball option, but Sanders will do that routinely.
He gives the Broncos the ability to stretch the field, making players like Welker and tight end Julius Thomas even more dangerous.
Sanders will thrive in Denver.
Last season, he set career highs with 67 receptions for 740 yards and six touchdowns. He'll eclipse all of those numbers this season—easily.
2. Wes Welker
Despite being 33 years old, Wes Welker is still the guy who is going to eat up the middle of the field and present matchup problems for just about every defense Denver faces.
Despite missing three games last season, Welker still had 73 receptions and 10 touchdowns. He does have a history with concussions, however.
Welker may be the third—or even fourth—option in a lot of games for the Broncos, but he still gives Peyton Manning a sure-handed, dependable target who knows how to move the chains.
1. Demariyus Thomas
Demaryius Thomas is not just the best wide receiver in Denver, he's one of the best in the NFL. The Broncos recognize this and have offered him a new five-year contract, as tweeted by CBS4 Denver's Vic Lombardi.
Thomas has overcome the injury woes that kept him down during the early part of his career, blossoming into Peyton Manning's favorite target.
In the two years since Manning came to Denver, Thomas has caught 186 passes for 2,864 yards and 24 touchdowns. That's awfully impressive.
Even in Super Bowl XLVIII, where the Broncos were thoroughly dominated by Seattle, Thomas still caught 13 passes for 118 yards and the team's only touchdown.
Thomas will be one of the NFL's top five receivers for many years to come.
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