Broncos’ Sutton excited to mentor Jeudy, Hamler
If Courtland Sutton is feeling threatened by the Denver Broncos using their first two draft picks on wide receivers, the third-year pro is hiding his emotions well.
Speaking on a conference call with the media Thursday, Sutton said that the team’s wide receivers room is “going to be exciting” this season after the Broncos selected Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy with the 15th overall pick last month and Penn State’s KJ Hamler in the second round.
Denver also added Florida’s Tyrie Cleveland in the seventh round.
While running back Phillip Lindsay admitted he was initially “really upset” after the Broncos signed Melvin Gordon in free agency, Sutton had an inkling the front office was gearing to load up at his position during the draft.
“I had been hearing that there was a possibility that (if) the guys who we wanted were there that the Broncos were going to take them,” Sutton said.
That was the case with Jeudy, the top-ranked receiver in the 2020 draft class by many analysts and whom the Broncos pounced on when he slid to the middle of the first round.
“I have been watching a few of the receivers that were coming out and Jeudy was one of those guys that was highly talked about that I had seen some of his plays just because of Alabama playing in a lot of big bowl games,” Sutton said. “I got to watch him play a little bit.
“I like what I saw. I got to talk to Coach Z (Broncos wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni) about him a little bit even before the draft, kind of just giving an eval on what I saw. I love the way he plays. I do think he’s going to be able to bring value to our room. He’s going to add a lot more pressure to defenses with his speed, his route running ability.”
Hamler joined the group the following day with the 46th overall pick. Sutton was familiar with him from talking with former Nittany Lions receiver DaeSean Hamilton, like Sutton a 2018 draft pick of the Broncos.
“I heard a lot about KJ from him, how he was a speedster, he’s a baller, he’s a playmaker,” Sutton said. “When we went and got him, I had an idea just from Ham explaining what he knew about him and seeing his film and also watching how explosive and how dynamic he is with the ball in his hand.
“I think that he’s also going to be able to be somebody who threatens defenses and helps everybody on the field.”
Sutton led the Broncos with 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 despite split quarterback play between Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen and rookie Drew Lock.
He was also the primary focus of opposing secondaries. Running back Royce Freeman was the next leading receiver with 43 catches, while Hamilton finished with 28 catches — fifth on the club and second among wide receivers to finish the season with the Broncos — for 297 yards and one touchdown.
That prompted general manager John Elway’s focus on significantly improving the skill position around Lock as he is handed the full-time keys in new coordinator Pat Shurmur’s offense. Rather than feel threatened, Sutton sees a dynamic group of receivers that will make it difficult on defenses to key in on any one player or aspect of Denver’s offense.
“We have guys who can stretch the field vertically and that can take those safeties out of the boxes,” Sutton said. “You make everyone pay respect to everybody on the field.
“It kind of makes all the defenses play their defenses and their schemes the right way. You’re not going to be able to cheat to one side. You’re not going to be able to load the box for the run game. You’re not going to be able to shade safeties over the top of certain places.
“From what I’ve seen in the meetings, (the newcomers are) working their butts off. They’re ready to come in and work.”
When Sutton entered the NFL, he looked around and saw a receiving corps that included veterans Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Now just two years later, Azzanni is referring to Sutton as the group’s “OG” and looking to him for leadership.
“It’s interesting,” Sutton said. “DaeSean and I both came into a room where we had Demaryius and Emmanuel, who were Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl winning guys.
“We walked in there and it was like we must be sponges. These dudes have seen what we want to see and have done what we want to do. It would be crazy for us not to go in there and absorb that knowledge.
“Being able to give that back to the guys that are coming into the room now, it’s awesome to be able to be in a position where we had good leaders who showed us the way. They gave us a blueprint to be able to pass this knowledge on and continue this trend so that our room can continue to grow and continue to get that respect around the league that we feel like we deserve from what we are capable of producing on the field.”
–Field Level Media