Albert Okwuegbunam

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

Broncos To Activate Jerry Jeudy From IR

Despite missing practice Friday, Jerry Jeudy remains on track to suit up for the Broncos in Week 8. As expected, Denver is set to activate its second-year wide receiver from IR, Tom Pelissero of tweets.

Jeudy experienced soreness after going through ramp-up workouts this week. The 2020 first-round pick is attempting to return from the high ankle sprain that cost him six games. His re-emergence stands to help a Broncos passing attack that has struggled over the past month.

The Alabama product led the Broncos with 856 receiving yards last season and generated considerable breakout buzz this offseason. After catching six passes for 72 yards in the team’s Week 1 win over the Giants, Jeudy went down midway through that game and saw his momentum stonewalled. Jeudy’s absence, and K.J. Hamler‘s season-ending injuries, stripped the Broncos of considerable weaponry. A four-game losing streak commenced.

The Broncos rank 24th offensively and have scored just 64 points during their four-game skid. During Jeudy’s career, the Broncos have yet to go through a game with he and Courtland Sutton healthy. Sutton missed Week 1 of the 2020 season and suffered an ACL tear during Denver’s Week 2 game last year. Sutton returned in New York to start this season, but Jeudy leaving that game again delayed the team’s hopes of seeing its top two receivers in action.

These setbacks have certainly altered the Broncos’ plan at wide receiver. With Sutton and Tim Patrick due for free agency in 2022, the Broncos will have decisions to make regarding their pass catchers soon.

Teddy Bridgewater will also have tight end Albert Okwuegbunam back in action, with 9News’ Mike Klis noting the second-year tight end is set to come off IR for Sunday’s game against Washington (Twitter link). Okwuegbunam has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, further stripping Bridgewater of targets. The Missouri product showed some promise in September, after recovering from the ACL tear that ended his rookie season.

Broncos Release WR John Brown

With the Broncos on track to have Jerry Jeudy back in Week 8, they are sending John Brown back to free agency. The Broncos released Brown from their practice squad Tuesday.

Denver added Brown earlier this month. The team had lost both Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in September and has played without both over the past four games. While Hamler is done for the year, Jeudy is on track to return from his high ankle sprain Sunday against Washington.

Days after signing the accomplished wideout, the Broncos bumped Brown up from their practice squad to their active roster. Brown, 31, reverted to the Broncos’ taxi squad after each of their past two games. The two-time 1,000-yard receiver did not make a catch as a Bronco. His one target resulted in a Teddy Bridgewater underthrown pass and an interception during Thursday’s loss in Cleveland.

After playing with the Cardinals, Ravens and Bills from 2014-20, Brown caught on with the Raiders this offseason. However, that stay ended after Brown requested his release late this summer. After spending several weeks in free agency, Brown landed an opportunity in Denver. The former third-round pick has 4,748 career receiving yards and 31 touchdown grabs.

The Broncos also designated tight end Albert Okwuegbunam to return from IR. The second-year pro serves as Denver’s No. 2 tight end and an auxiliary pass catcher. He caught nine passes for 57 yards in the Broncos’ first four games this season but missed time with a hamstring injury. The Mizzou product is eligible to come off IR ahead of Week 8. He and Jeudy would give Denver some much-needed receiving help in a key game for the team’s fading playoff hopes.

Broncos’ Albert Okwuegbunam Has Torn ACL

The hits just keep on coming for the Broncos. Rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam suffered a torn ACL during the team’s loss to the Falcons yesterday, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

Needless to say, Okwuegbunam will be done for the rest of the season. The Broncos drafted the Missouri product back in April, and this is a tough way for his rookie season to end. He was inactive the first four games of the season, but had started to play a real role on offense in recent weeks. He was playing a solid chunk of the offensive snaps, and in Denver’s Week 7 loss to the Chiefs he had seven catches for 60 yards.

All told, he’ll finish the year with 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in four contests. Noah Fant has been playing through a lingering ankle injury which he again briefly re-aggravated on Sunday, and his health will be even more important moving forward. Jake Butt is currently on IR, which means Nick Vannett will likely see an increase in snaps in Okwuegbunam’s absence. Fortunately, it’s still early enough that Okwuegbunam should be able to make a full recovery in time for the start of his sophomore campaign.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 7/22/20

Here are the latest draft pick signings. With rookies set to report to teams’ training camps this week, teams are busy on this front.

  • The Vikings were the busiest team in the draft, making 15 picks this year. They have been active signing them Wednesday. Beyond first-rounder Justin Jefferson, Minnesota has agreed to terms with second-round tackle Ezra Cleveland, fourth-round linebacker Troy Dye, fourth-round defensive tackle James Lynch and seventh-round offensive lineman Kyle Hinton. Cleveland, rumored as a possible late-first-round selection, will be groomed to become a near-future starter for the Vikings.
  • The Broncos began signing some of their picks, most notably getting third-rounders Michael Ojemudia and McTelvin Agim under contract. A cornerback, Ojemudia is set to compete for a starting job opposite A.J. Bouye; Agim profiles as D-line depth behind established starters this season. Denver also signed fourth-round tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, a Mizzou alum set to rejoin his former quarterback (Drew Lock) in the Mile High City. The Broncos also reached an agreement with seventh-round outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka.
  • Despite having T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree under contract, the Steelers used a third-round pick on outside linebacker Alex Highsmith. The Charlotte alum agreed to terms on his four-year rookie deal. Highsmith recorded 15 sacks at the mid-major program last season.
  • Packers third-round pick Josiah Deguara also agreed on his four-year rookie contract. Green Bay eschewed its wide receiver need throughout the draft, using Day 2 to add a running back (A.J. Dillon) and Deguara, who profiles as a tight end/fullback. The Cincinnati product surpassed 900 yards between his final two college seasons, totaling 12 touchdown grabs in that span.
  • Tennessee third-round running back Darrynton Evans signed his rookie deal as well. Evans looks set to replace Dion Lewis as the TitansDerrick Henry change-of-pace back. The Appalachian State alum rushed for 1,480 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He added five receiving TDs.
  • The Giants used first- and third-round picks on tackles. The latter selection, UConn’s Matt Peart, agreed to the terms of his rookie deal Wednesday. Peart profiles as a developmental lineman, working behind expected starters Nate Solder and Andrew Thomas. He stands to join Cameron Fleming as depth for Big Blue.
  • Washington has agreed to terms with third-round running back/wideout Antonio Gibson, fourth-round receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden and fifth-round center Keith Ismael. Gibson and Gandy-Golden figure to be key parts of a Washington offense that is limited, beyond Terry McLaurin, in the passing game. Gibson totaled 1,104 yards from scrimmage at Memphis last season, while Gandy-Golden caught 20 touchdown passes in two years at Liberty.
  • Fourth-round Cowboys pick Reggie Robinson agreed to terms as well. The Tulsa cornerback joins a Cowboys team that lost Byron Jones in free agency. Dallas was active in an effort to replace the Pro Bowler, drafting Trevon Diggs in Round 2 and signing Daryl Worley.
  • Sixth-round Chargers safety Alohi Gilman, a Notre Dame alum, signed his Chargers contract Wednesday. Gillman joins a deep Bolts safety corps.
  • The Buccaneers drafted two running backs this year. On Wednesday, they agreed to terms with the second of those picks — seventh-rounder Raymond Calais. In addition to his work as a running back at Louisiana, Calais was a four-year kick returner for the Rajin’ Cajuns.

Draft Notes: Tua, Okwuegbunam, Reagor

As Tua Tagovailoa continues to rehab from a hip injury, the quarterback is uncertain whether he’ll enter the NFL Draft or stay at Alabama for another season. In a conversation with Cecil Hurt of (and passed along by Ian Rapoport of on Twitter), Tagovailoa said he’ll continue to discuss his future with his parents in anticipation of the January 20th deadline to declare for the draft.

“There is a risk and a reward if I stay and a risk and a reward if I go,” Tagovailoa said. “The risk if I stay is obviously ‘Do I get hurt again?’ The reward is that I could come back and have another good year like my sophomore year and elevate myself back to the very top of the (NFL) draft.

“If I leave, I think the risk is a little higher. That risk would be how far do I drop in the draft. To me, it’s 50-50 between going in the first round and possibly going in the second round. If I go somewhere from first (overall) to around 24th, the money will be set. But let’s say — and I am just picking a number — that I go to the 31st pick. That would be about 9 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, an amount of money I’ve never had before, but it’s not high first-round money and you can never make that money up. They say you can (make it up) on your next contract but money lost is money lost to me.

“Those are the deciding factors. If my parents tell me that they think I should leave, that is obviously going to be a factor. But so far, they’ve told me that it’s my decision.”

The quarterback doesn’t have a timetable for his return from injury. Even with the ailment, we recently heard that Tagovailoa would still be a first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Let’s check out some more draft notes:

  • TCU wideout Jalen Reagor announced on Twitter that he’s entering the 2020 draft. Following a 1,000-yard campaign in 2018, Reagor finished 2019 with 43 catches for 611 yards and five touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound receiver is listed as the sixth-best player at his position by CBS Sports.
  • Maryland RB Anthony McFarland Jr. has declared for the 2020 draft. The former redshirt sophomore still had two years of eligibility. McFarland finished his season having compiled 614 rushing yards and eight scores on 114 carries. He added another 17 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown.
  • Missouri will be losing a trio of contributors, as defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, and offensive lineman Trystan Colon-Castillo all declared for the 2020 draft. Okwuegbunam is easily Missouri’s top-rated prospect, with the tight end ranking third at his position, per CBS Sports.
  • Oregon State receiver Isaiah Hodgins will enter the NFL Draft, the player announced on social media (via Charean Williams of The son of former NFL player James Hodgins, the Beavers wideout finished this past season with 86 receptions for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns. Considering the receiver depth in the upcoming draft, Hodgins will be hard pressed to be an early-round pick.
  • Colorado wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. is entering the draft, the team announced on Twitter. “Laviska Shenault represented our relentless culture and was one of the most dynamic, dominant and versatile players that I have ever coached,” said head coach Mel Tucker. Shenault had 1,775 yards and 10 touchdowns between the 2018 and 2019 seasons.