The Slot Machine: Eddie Casino Royal

Kyle EggemeyerCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2009

While Brandon Marshall whines about a contract extension even though he is an injured criminal, the Broncos' Eddie Royal, No. 19 is slowly creeping into the number one receiver spot in the Mile High City.

Royal, the second year player out of Virginia Tech is a special player, combining a 4.39 forty time, 24 reps on the bench press, and a 36 inch vertical.  He has excellent hands, is a crisp route runner and makes excellent decisions.

In his rookie debut against the Raiders last season, Royal caught nine balls for 146 yards and a touchdown. This won him rookie of the week honors, however I was most impressed by his decision making.

During the game, Royal ran an end around which turned out to be a trick pass play.  He was under heavy pressure and instead of throwing into coverage or taking a sack, the rookie threw the ball out of bounds...and he is a receiver! Some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL can't make the right decision in that situation, but a rookie receiver did.

Now good decisions will only get you so far.  He is also an explosive player.  In his rookie year he caught 91 passes (second all-time for a rookie) for 980 yards and five scores.  His numbers would show that he narrowly missed the Pro Bowl considering he was seventh in the league in receptions and sixth in total yards.

Despite great rookie numbers, Royal is one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL, partly due to Brandon Marshall, partly because he is more of a slot-man than a wide-out. Fantasy owners, look for Royal as a solid second receiver in your draft.

In Denver's first preseason game this year against the 49ers, Royal looked good catching four balls for 46 yards and was wide open in the in-zone but Orton threw a horrible ball which was picked off.  Royal was taken out soon there after, but in the time he played, he looked as polished as ever.

Look for Royal to have another great season this year, regardless of who is under center.  Who knows, if Marshall can't/won't play this season, Royals' numbers may explode.  Thank you for reading, and come draft day, don't forget about this diamond in the rough.