Broncos WR Juwann Winfree Says he 'Thrives' off of Being 'Overlooked'
Given the depth of talent that now populates the Denver Broncos wide receiver room, even a second-year player like Juwann Winfree is very much a man on the bubble. In 2019, GM John Elway traded up into round six so he could grab the 6-foot-2, 210-pound pass-catcher out of the University of Colorado.
That recent draft pedigree and local ties will count for little in 2020 as the fight for roster spots heats up in training camp. The New York City native is hoping that his experiences gained as a rookie have positioned him significantly better when it comes to improving his fitness and mental readiness to play.
Winfree hopes that the stars can align for him to make the final roster.
“I just want to be more reliable out there,” Winfree told the team website earlier this week. “[I want to] be able to make contested catches all day, be able to win against man coverage all day. You’ve got to be in the best shape possible; that’s kind of one of the things I took [seriously].”
Winfree’s attempts to elevate his body and mind to the levels of a solid pro are framed against the added pressure of fighting for his NFL survival only one year into his pro career.
“Knowing that your spot is not 100% guaranteed even going into year two and even being a draft pick, that helped make me appreciate it,” Winfree said. “Me being on the edge of the roster, that motivates me and is something I appreciate. It can go one way or the other, but at the end of the day, I’m going to give it all I’ve got, and I know God has me. I try not to worry about it.”
Divine intervention aside, the stark reality of making the final cut will require the right blend of reliable hands and routes and a real impact on special teams. Winfree is fully aware that he has to be a man for all seasons and also be ready to go when his number is called.
“The key for me, is just showing accountability—me knowing my plays, me knowing they can count on me to be in the right place at the right time,” Winfree explained. “That’s what it’s all about this training camp. Whoever is the most accountable, whoever’s making the most plays is going to stay. That’s all it is.”
Staring the harsh reality of life on the NFL bubble in the eye requires a do-or-die attitude that the Broncos young wideout has been cultivating during the entire offseason. A feeling has long burnt inside Winfree that he is being labeled a forgotten man and he is determined to change that.
“I think that’s motivated me throughout this offseason—as well as the time we’ve been here so far—just knowing that I’m overlooked, I thrive off that," Winfree said.
Broncos Country might be most interested in seeing splashy new talents like Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler light-up training camp, but Winfree’s battle to remain NFL-relevant is an interesting subplot to keep a close eye on.