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Denver Broncos: Brandon Lloyd and Mile High's 2011-2012 Wide Receivers

Joe Rapolla Jr.Featured ColumnistJune 15, 2011

Denver Broncos: Brandon Lloyd and Mile High's 2011-2012 Wide Receivers

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Since the days of the great John Elway, the Denver Broncos have always been known as a team with a dynamic offense.

    Some fantastic wide receivers have graced the Denver football fields with their presence. To name a few, Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, and Brandon Marshall.

    To name a few more, the dynamic trio of Vance Johnson, Ricky Nattiel, and Mark Jackson, who were dubbed the "three amigos" in the late 80s. 

    Yes, the Mile High city knows what it is to have a great wide receiver. Do they have a few young stars brewing on the bench right now? Maybe...

8. Eron Riley

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Eron Riley is strictly a practice squad player and is a last resort for the Denver Broncos. Pending some serious injuries to their starters, Riley will most likely won't see the field of play this season with the possible exception of the kickoff team. 

    The Duke graduate was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and had a brief stint of the Carolina Panthers practice squad as well. 

    The young Riley has good size, however, and may have an in with new head coach John Fox from his, get this, five days as a member of the Panthers

7. Britt Davis

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    source: wikipedia.org

    Like Eron Riley, Britt Davis is used primarily on the practice squad for the time being. 

    Nonetheless, he is a tremendous athlete who was a very good quarterback in high school and had a great career as a wide receiver at Northern Illinois. 

    He's yet to catch a pass in the NFL, and may not get the chance to this season unless a few players go down. Still, he has great size and athleticism and could be threatening if the stars align for him. 

6. Matthew Willis

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    UCLA graduate Matthew Willis has done well in preseason appearances and has had stints on the active roster for Denver. 

    He is a very quick receiver and could be used as a deep threat by the Broncos.

    He went down last season with a broken foot, yet is expected to be healthy for this upcoming season and probably ranks sixth on the depth chart, just on the verge between practice squad and active roster. 

5. Eric Decker

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A lot of people are calling for Eric Decker to have a breakout season, and there are a lot of reasons why. 

    He is a big guy (6'3", 220 pounds) and a tremendous athlete; he played both football and baseball in college at Minnesota

    He also led NFL rookies in receptions during last year's preseason and performed well for the Broncos on special teams and seemed to have a connection with Tim Tebow towards the end of the season. 

    Decker is a young talent who could very well breakout for the Broncos this season. 

4. Jabar Gaffney

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Jabar Gaffney seems to always be a good receiver but never has that breakout season that great receivers need. 

    As a member of the New England Patriots, Gaffney had games where he looked like one of the most dominant players in the league and then had games where he couldn't get open or rid himself of butterfingers. 

    His impact with the Patriots was good enough for Denver to sign him to a four-year, $10 million contract in 2009.

    It is this great contract, however, that may prove to be the bane of Gaffney's tenure in Denver. I wouldn't be surprised to see Denver cut ties with the well-payed 30-year-old in favor of some younger and cheaper talent. 

3. DeMaryius Thomas

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    DeMaryius Thomas was a star at Georgia Tech and was taken by Denver in the fist round of the 2010 NFL Draft. 

    After a strong start to his rookie season where Thomas had eight receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown, his production slipped and he battled against a few injuries. 

    All the pieces are there for Thomas to break out and be a dominant young receiver in the NFL, yet he is now recovering from a torn Achilles, which is sustained over the winter. 

    If Thomas can get and stay healthy, expect big things for him. 

2. Eddie Royal

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    After a fantastic rookie season in 2008 where Eddie Royal blew up for nearly 1,000 receiving yards, his production slipped off completely as he entered a sophomore slump in 2009. Royal bounced back a little bit in 2010, clocking 627 receiving yards, but his numbers were nowhere near his rookie season figures. 

    This is a big year for Royal. He needs to prove to fans and coaches that his rookie season wasn't just a fluke. If he doesn't step up and make this statement, his position and future in Denver could be jeopardized, especially with the great young talent in Eric Decker and DeMaryius Thomas. 

1. Brandon Lloyd

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Mr. Brandon Lloyd had one hell of a season in 2010. In the definition of a breakout season, the 29-year-old Lloyd recorded 1,448 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, nearly doubling the figures of his next best season. 

    Lloyd has a lot to prove after winning the receiving crown; mainly, he needs to show that his breakout season wasn't just dumb luck. 

    If Tim Tebow is throwing him the ball rather than Kyle Orton, his numbers will probably drop off a bit, but even with a decline in his figures, Lloyd can still have a tremendous season and once again, be the elite receiver for the Denver Broncos. 

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