The Denver Broncos got the elite wide receiver prospect they were coveting when Alabama's Jerry Jeudy, widely considered the top WR in the 2020 NFL Draft class, fell to them at pick No. 15. He joins a young Broncos offense that features second-year quarterback Drew Lock, second-year tight end Noah Fant, the emerging WR Courtland Sutton, and a pair of strong running backs in Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay.
Where does Jeudy fit? Is this a better real-life fit than a fantasy one? Let's dive a little deeper into the numbers.
The Broncos operate a fairly run-heavy offense, rushing on 42.9% of their offensive plays in 2019. That was the ninth-highest total in the NFL, and one has to assume the addition of Gordon will only increase that number. However, those numbers are very similar to the Las Vegas Raiders—who ran on 44.2% of offensive plays—and I'm still very high on Henry Ruggs III. If Ruggs is a borderline WR3 for fantasy, does the same apply to his former Crimson Tide teammate? There are a couple of factors to consider.
First is the status of his left knee. That appears to be a non-issue as he's been fully cleared and has played two seasons on the surgically-repaired knee. The other is about how he will be used in Denver's offense. Here's what Broncos reporter Luke Patterson had to say about Jeudy's fit:
By lining up Jeudy in the slot and motioning him outside the numbers, opposing defenses could become exposed through mismatches, thus revealing their coverages. However, he can also attack the depths of secondary units on the perimeter, forcing a safety to commit.
Jeudy’s also strong enough to endure punishment from linebackers in the middle of the field. He’s very consistent when securing the ball before collisions and exhibits a tough and fearless mentality against any defender.
Jeudy dominated from the slot in college and should slip right into that role for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who tends to lean on 11 personnel. Developing quick chemistry with Lock will be key to Jeudy being productive early in the season, as we typically see rookie WRs go through a transition period early in their rookie campaigns.
Although the Broncos will focus heavily on the run, there’s still room for multiple WRs to be productive in Denver’s offense. Opponents will stack the box to stop Gordon and Lindsay, allowing Sutton, Jeudy, and Fant to take advantage of single coverage.
Sutton finished last season as a WR2 in PPR formats (18th in overall points and 24th in FPPG) and should maintain that status in 2020. Jeudy can step in as a starting slot receiver from the jump and use his elite route-running prowess to bully nickel corners. The Broncos aren't a big-play offense, so Jeudy's ceiling is a bit lower in Year 1 than Ruggs', but he should be drafted as a high-end WR4 with an excellent chance to be a full-time fantasy contributor in the back half of the season.
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