Broncos' TE Room is Worst in the NFL per PFF

Did PFF have to throw shade at Adam Trautman?
Dec 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Adam Trautman (82) celebrates his
Dec 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Adam Trautman (82) celebrates his / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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The Denver Broncos roster is thin according to the national media perception. The Broncos were able to address some of the alarming deficiencies at different position groups in free agency and the NFL draft but tight end wasn't among them.

Drafting quarterback Bo Nix was a must for Broncos head coach Sean Payton, but it also meant letting Georgia tight end Brock Bowers fall right in the lap of divisional rivals the Las Vegas Raiders

The reality that the Broncos have issues at tight end hasn't slipped past the crew at Pro Football Focus, who labeled the unit as the worst in the league.

"A room that features Adam Trautman as the top tight end is concerning. His 53.2 PFF grade in 2023 ranked 57th out of 72 eligible players, as he caught just 22 passes for 204 yards in 2023. The Broncos didn’t add a tight end in the draft nor did they make a move for one in free agency. Rookie quarterback Bo Nix will likely target the position very little in 2024," PFF's John Kosko wrote.

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As things stand, Trautman (a long-time Payton favorite) is penciled in as the starter, but his 22 catches for 204 yards last season did little to spark much enthusiasm. Putting together a tight end unit that can help out the offensive line and create some running lanes is perhaps Payton's more basic idea,. given the dearth of pass catching talent in the room. Perhaps it's necessary that things should be stripped back and simplified.

That would go very much against the grain of the "joker" role Payton likes to utilize in his offense. Through the years, it's always been a dynamic running back or tight end who has filled the position for Payton, so scrapping the offensive concept seems unlikely. 

Only last season, the perception was that former third-round draft pick Greg Dulcich would become the dynamic pass-catching option the Broncos so badly needed. Payton was especially high on Dulcich's ability to become his ace in the hole during last season's training camp, but that all went up in smoke when the injury bug struck. 

"The 'joker' player for us is not a receiver," Payton said last summer. "It's either a running back or a tight end with exceptional ball skills and then you can work matchups. We've had that at the running back [position]. Reggie Bush was the 'joker,' Darren Sproles and [Alvin] Kamara. Those were all unique players, not just in the running game, but they had passing game skill sets that allowed you to do multiple things, and I think Greg [Dulcich] does, too."

There's no secret how Dulcich's debilitating and repeated injuries have massively eroded the fans' confidence that the 24-year-old can see the field on a more regular basis. As understandable as the pessimism throughout Broncos Country might be, Payton might be the right shaman to turn Dulcich's career trajectory around.

That's been a quest that has occupied portions of Payton's time since he arrived in Denver, and it's seen the Broncos reach for answers outside their building to soothe his Dulcich's pair of bothersome hamstrings. Dulcich is a tantalizing talent, as he can stretch the field in a unique way.

That explains why Payton is still a believer in Dulcich finally producing over an entire season, so much so that he's rolled the dice by not investing in further tight end talent this offseason, outside of college free agent Thomas Yassmin.

The ongoing mission to improve Dulcich's rudimentary blocking skills marches on, but it takes a back seat to the priority of keeping him healthy and involved in the Broncos' passing game. This summer's training camp should prove interesting.

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Keith Cummings


Keith Cummings has covered the Denver Broncos at Mile High Huddle since 2019. His works have been featured on,,, and