After an encouraging first season under head coach Vic Fangio, the Denver Broncos and their fanbase have turned their attention to the 2020 NFL Draft. With consecutive draft classes yielding immediate returns, Denver’s roster is trending upwards as they look towards the 15th selection in the draft. Rookie quarterback Drew Lock was able to lead the Broncos on a 4-1 stretch last season. At this point, the main objective of the franchise needs to be surrounding him with an adequate arsenal of protection and weapons. That’s why we find ourselves looking at potential wide receivers targets for the Broncos in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Team needs for the Broncos heading into 2020
After trading Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers during the season, the Broncos are arguably left with a lack of depth in the wide receiver room. Courtland Sutton is an emerging star, but second-year receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick haven’t yet shown to be fully reliable targets. Despite that, rookie tight end Noah Fant is a potential star with his size and athletic profile, and Denver got excellent receiving production out of their backfield last season.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to presume that Broncos general manager John Elway will be looking to add one dynamic talent to the receiver room, giving them multiplicity with their receiving targets. Furthermore, Pro Football Network Insider Ben Allbright reported that the Broncos will look to target a speedy wide receiver early in the draft.
If you’re the mock drafting type. I’d suggest looking at plugging speed WRs early for Denver…
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 30, 2019
Denver has to get a wide receiver early in the 2020 draft. Expect these prospects to be their top options.
Round 1: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Henry Ruggs III is the ideal fit for Denver’s current structure of their wide receiver depth chart and word out of Broncos country is that Ruggs won’t fall past their first-round pick.
Ruggs’ speed would be the perfect compliment to Sutton’s size along the boundary and Hamilton’s separation as a route runner. On top of that, Ruggs has inside-outside versatility that could allow Denver to be varied with his and Hamilton’s alignments, exposing whichever matchup presents itself. The presence of Ruggs would change the way defenses are able to cover the Broncos passing game given the way he is able to instantly defeat press coverage.
I’m not comparing the two as players, but you see flashes of Tyreek Hill-level acceleration in Henry Ruggs III. Once a DB gets back on their heels, Ruggs is by them. That change of speed is deadly: pic.twitter.com/bPhlLIl1NU
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) June 15, 2019
With Ruggs’ ability to break plays open both with the ball in his hands or on vertical routes, he’ll push safety help his way and open up the middle of the field. Not only does this mean more 1-on-1 reps for Sutton to dominate, but extra reps against either linebackers or safeties for Fant and Hamilton.
Henry Ruggs III might have the highest ceiling of any wide receiver in CFB: pic.twitter.com/RtERnxOJuG
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) November 25, 2018
Ruggs isn’t only a good fit with the Broncos wide receivers. His speed would pair well with Lock’s arm cannon. Ruggs has a chance to hit 4.2s in the forty-yard dash, and that speed being thrown to by one of the best young deep-ball passers in the league would be sublime. Expect a number of explosive plays, similar to the way that rookie receiver Mecole Hardman produced six touchdowns of 20+ yards this season for the rival Kansas City Chiefs.
Henry Ruggs III joined track as a Senior in high school, and ran a 10.42s 100 meter in his second meet.
“Official” PR (with wind reading) was 10.53s.
Class 7A Alabama 100 meter state champion and record holder. He’s got the jets. pic.twitter.com/IcAQAp4A54
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) October 14, 2018
Round 2: Jalen Reagor, TCU or KJ Hamler, Penn State
If Ruggs is the ideal fit for Denver, expect Jalen Reagor and KJ Hamler to be their secondary options. While they’re not quite on the same level as Ruggs with their straight-line speed, both prospects are candidates to run in the 4.3s range in the forty-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Reagor has similar size to Ruggs but isn’t the same route runner against press coverage and will suffer from more concentration drops. However, Reagor will attack the ball well for an undersized receiver, and his vertical receiving and yards after catch ability were both special for the Horned Frogs. Reagor would improve the Broncos receiver core in a similar fashion that Ruggs would, and will, therefore, be an option for any team targeting Ruggs that misses out on him.
Jalen Reagor has my vote for most athletically explosive WR in the country
Kris Boyd is my favorite draft-eligible CB prospect
Highlights from their matchup this past Saturday: pic.twitter.com/SyCf586xfZ
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) September 24, 2018
Hamler can break open a game with his speed after the catch in the same way that Reagor can, but isn’t the same player with his vertical receiving due to his inconsistent ball skills. While that may be the case, his speed and quickness paired with Fant’s contested receptions would be quite a fun pair in the middle of the field.
Some of the plays he made in the open field while at Penn State were truly eye-opening:
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) February 6, 2020
Round 3: KJ Hill, Ohio State
While Denver has their eyes toward Ruggs, rumor has it that KJ Hill will be a strong portion of their backup plan if they miss out on him. His fit in the Denver Broncos offense would undoubtedly be an interesting one.
Hill is Ohio State’s all-time leader in receptions, and you don’t get to that status without nuanced route-running and strong hands. Hill predominantly played in the slot for the Buckeyes but proved during Senior Bowl week that his ability to beat press coverage naturally translates to boundary reps. The versatility and crafty route running combination of Hill and Hamilton would be difficult for defenses to cover, especially while depending on multiple slot defenders.
KJ Hill is always open pic.twitter.com/qvXFyHWNce
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 24, 2020
Hill’s quickness out of route breaks would be a welcome addition to pair with Lock. He could act as a security blanket for the young signal-caller while providing WR2 upside.
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) September 20, 2019