On Thursday night, the Denver Broncos got their guy with the 15th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Amid rumors that GM John Elway would maneuver in the draft, Denver opted to let Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy fall to them.
Reports first surfaced in January at the Senior Bowl that Elway considered Jeudy to be the premier receiver in this draft class. From there on, the Broncos continued to monitor Jeudy at the NFL Combine, and through various pre-draft virtual visits.
During the press conference following the first round of the draft, Elway confirmed just that.
How Jeudy Fits
Jeudy is hands down the most complete WR in the draft. His polished route-running and utilization of the entire route tree will make him an elite play-maker in the NFL. Jeudy has deceptive speed at the stem of his routes, as he recorded a 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. The combination of technically sound routes and speed make him an ideal weapon in the Broncos' offense.
The ability to play inside at the slot position or outside on the perimeter makes Jeudy the perfect threat for OC Pat Shurmur’s spread offense. One hallmark of Shurmur’s offense is the utilization of 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR).
In this formation, various motions and pre-snap reads allow the offense to maximize the entirety of the field. Because the Broncos have Pro Bowl WR Courtland Sutton, defenses will need to prioritize secondary coverages (zone vs man). Defenses will also be forced to declare single vs. double team coverage, consequently allowing more targets for 2019 first-round TE Noah Fant.
As if defenses don’t have enough concerns against receivers, RBs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are expected to produce in the passing game in addition to the rushing attack.
Now that Denver has landed their favorite WR, the Broncos offense should have the potential to overwhelm defensive secondaries. Shurmur will need to get creative to showcase the Crimson Tide star in his spread offense.
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.
By drafting Jeudy, the Broncos have immediately complicated game-planning for opposing defensive coordinators. Not only is he a WR threat that can stretch the field vertically, but his expertise in routes and coverage recognition will allow him to take advantage of horizontal spacing. The Broncos could possibly be looking to Jeudy as the ‘Robin,” to Sutton’s ‘Batman.”
During the first-round draft press conference, Fangio spoke about what makes Jeudy unique.
Jeudy will Assist QB Drew Lock’s Development
After learning the Broncos drafted Jeudy, the second-year Lock reached out to his new WR.
“Call me whenever you need me," Lock told Jeudy. "I’m ready to go over the playbook tonight, tomorrow, whenever you’re ready.”
Elway certainly held true to his commitment to Lock by drafting Jeudy. Lock was literally handed a WR that is expected to move the chains and catch a lot of touchdowns.
Jeudy has a knack for finding the end zone, as he scored 24 touchdowns in the last 28 games of his Alabama career. His knowledge of beating defenders during one-on-one matchups in coverage immediately gives him an advantage with the deep ball or drawing pass interference penalties.
The small intricacies of perfecting the WR position is already considered to be the signature of Jeudy's game. By drafting a rookie WR that prioritizes fundamentals, Lock should feel confident targeting his new teammate out of the gates.
Lock, who’s already considered to be a confident and energetic player, should feel excited that the organization has committed to giving him offensive weapons and building the nest. The strong-arm Missouri native has made it to the NFL because of his talent and willingness to take chances.
Landing a sure-fire WR in Jeudy will enable Lock to improve his accuracy and completion percentage. Jeudy essentially lowers the risk of incompletions and interceptions, while maximizing the reward of yardage and points scored.
Jeudy's Healthy, Don’t Worry
24 hours prior to the draft, a report from a Philadelphia radio station suggested that Jeudy has a nagging knee injury from the spring of 2018. NFL insider Adam Schefter confirmed the meniscus injury, hinting that teams could yield caution towards the star WR’s health.
Although Jeudy underwent surgery the same year, he has not had any further complications relating to his knee. During the NFL Combine last February, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain wrote a letter to all 32 NFL teams detailing Jeudy’s prognosis.
“Jerry Jeudy had a partial lateral meniscectomy in April 2018," Dr. Cain wrote. "He has had no subsequent issue, symptoms or limitations. He has not required any treatment for his knee since the injury two years ago and currently has no symptoms.”
Dr. Cain added, “I expect him to progress through his professional career without any subsequent difficulties."
While this may sound par for the course for any prospect with hopes of being drafted, Dr. Cain’s credentials and reputation are world renown. He specialized in arthroscopic treatment of sports-related injuries specifically knees, shoulders, and elbows practicing at Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center with affiliations to schools such as Alabama, Michigan State, and others. While the Broncos should monitor the two-year-old injury, they shouldn’t be fearful of any reaggravation.
Elway and company have done their homework on Jeudy. Long before the college all-star games, the Combine, or the draft, the Broncos' scouting department has been studying Jeudy.
Fast forward to team physicians and athletic trainers with access to Jeudy’s medical records and there should hardly be any secrets. The last thing they want is an injured player that can’t get on the field. Although the injury news revealed shades of truth, it still happened during ‘the season of lies.’
So naturally, I can’t help but scoff at the timing of the news. Each draft has its own drama and theatrics behind the scenes with players, teams, and agents.
The fact of the matter is, Jeudy wouldn’t have been a top-15 selection if he were unable to practice, let alone perform at an elite level for the most prestigious college football program in the country.