Jan 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Bennie Fowler (13) stiff arms Stanford Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds (29) during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Anytime the Broncos pick up somebody at the wide receiver position, you have to take an in-depth look at said player. After drafting Cody Latimer in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft, it was my assertion that the team would have one spot on the roster at that position for an undrafted player or futures contract or young guy to come in and make an impact.
That player is going to have to do a couple of things. First, they are going to have to show an ability to be versatile, and by that I mean play special teams and add value to the bottom of the roster rather than just being someone the Broncos would stash away on the practice squad.
As we saw last season, Denver kept just five actual receivers on the roster and had Trindon Holliday occupying the other spot at that position, even though he rarely contributed at WR.
One player contending for that sixth and final WR spot is Michigan State’s Bennie Fowler, who showed fantastic improvement over the course of his senior season as a Spartan and firmly planted himself on the NFL map with a blazing 4.38 in the 40 yard dash at Michigan State’s pro day.
Fowler is a well-built receiver with speed and an aggressive mentality, and a propensity for making tough catches. Here’s everything you need to know about the young Michigan State wideout, and how he can fit in with and make the Denver Broncos.
Wt: 217 lbs
Bench: 18 reps
- Size/speed freak
- Athletically, up there with Cody Latimer for Broncos rookies
- Improved as senior season went on
- Showed an ability to make tough catches and adjust to poorly thrown balls
- Explosive after the catch
- Excellent deep speed
- Hands catcher
- Aggressive, attacking mentality
- Good field vision
- Could be better pro than college player
- Pretty solid downfield blocker
Areas of Weakness
- Injury in sophomore season (medical red flag)
- Occasionally gives up on routes
- Doesn’t always come away with contested balls
- Lack of ‘elite’ production
How Can Fowler Make the Broncos?
As I stated, that sixth WR spot is open for competition. After Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer, and even Andre Caldwell, I think the Broncos have a few guys vying for one more roster spot at the position.
If history is an indication, though, the Broncos will also have at least one spot open on the practice squad for another receiver. To me, there are two opportunities to make this team for Fowler but obviously he’d like to be on the final 53-man.
What he needs to do is show an ability to make plays on special teams. If you get on the same page with that group of coaches, they’re going to fight to keep you on the roster. Not to mention, if Fowler can prove he is a capable special teams player with his size, speed, and athletic ability, there’s no doubt in my mind he has enough intrigue as a WR in the future that it would be worth the Broncos keeping him around.
When you watch him play, you might not see a #1 playmaker like Demaryius Thomas, but you might very well see a young player who can contribute as a versatile inside-outside receiver with excellent speed and YAC potential.
Like I said before, anytime the Broncos pick up a WR, I pay attention. Fowler is the most impressive athlete that I’ve scouted thus far among the undrafted free agents. He has the best/most ideal combination of size/speed/leaping ability of any player the Broncos picked up after the draft, which will give him an edge.
He is also strong in the upper body and has gotten used to adjusting to poorly thrown balls at Michigan State, which could help him in the pre-season. A couple of years ago the Broncos picked up a kid out of Michigan State named Mark Dell who came really close to making the final roster at one point, and we’ve seen other MSU wideouts like Blair Walsh come into the league as UDFAs and have success with Peyton Manning.
Coaches rave about Fowler’s willingness to get better, and that he is going to be eager in the pros to pick the brain of the veterans, and what a better situation to come into than to be learning from Peyton Manning and his star-studded cast?
If this top level athlete can find a way to make it on special teams, he could have a spot with the Broncos as either the 6th WR or a practice squad addition.