June 11, 2013; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) warms up during mini camp drills at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Tight End Julius Thomas the Most Improved Player at Broncos Camp?

The Broncos could see last offseason that one player who was going to make an unexpected but welcome impact was third year tight end Julius Thomas. Little did they know it would be a Pro Bowl season from the former Portland State basketball player.

Thomas’ breakout season included a dozen touchdown catches, but his game still had a lot of areas of possible improvement.

That’s what’s scary for opposing defensive coordinators.

Thomas has wide receiver speed and athleticism and strong hands, and is a beast in the red zone.

By all accounts at training camp, Thomas was moving all over the field and making plays. There were reports that he was making plays all over the field, and taking the spotlight with Demaryius Thomas out for personal/family reasons.

In his second year as the starter, I fully expect Julius to be one of the most improved players in Denver. John Fox and others have said that Thomas has plenty of room for improvement, ways that he can build off of last season. The more comfortable he gets in the Broncos’s system, the harder it’s going to be for defenses to contain him.

For such a naturally gifted player, the key is doing all the little things right. That’s why when he dropped a pass at the Broncos’ first practice, he reportedly carried around a blue ball.

With even slight improvements to his game in 2014, Thomas is going to be a force to be reckoned with. He’s already such a powerful physical mismatch that he is able to simply out-talent defenders. If he starts figuring out how to out-smart them as well on a consistent basis, there’s no telling where the ceiling goes for this kid.

And that’s a huge reason why the Broncos are working to re-sign him. Denver knows that for what he’s proven thus far in his career, ‘Orange Julius’ isn’t quite worth what Jimmy Graham just got paid, but they’re certainly not going to try to short-change him.

If the Broncos are unable to get a deal done with Thomas in the next two or three weeks, he could significantly increase his overall price by the end of the season, playing in a contract year.

The Broncos’ passing game is already elite. Julius Thomas is already a Pro Bowl player. If he’s the most improved roster, you do the math on just what that might look like for Denver in 2014.

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