Broncos Should Target Return Specialist on Day 3


The Broncos somehow seem to be stuck in an endless search for somebody to return kicks.

Year after year the Broncos have a revolving door at both kick returner and punt returner. Last year saw the Broncos give 5 different players a chance to return Kickoffs: Omar Bolden, Andre Caldwell, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer and Isaiah Burse. While 3 different players returned punts: Isaiah Burse, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders.

None of these players did so with much success.

The Broncos were 20th in the league in both Kickoff return average and Punt return average.

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Year after year I expect and hope the Broncos will draft a return specialist, simply to return kicks well. However, they have not found that guy as of yet.

It seems as if they won’t justify spending a pick on a player who’s only standout skill is returning, while at the same time being a poor WR, RB or whatever their particular position happens to be. They have tried to draft players who have some discernable skill at a position who also happens to have some skill in the return game.

However, I think drafting a player who excels at the return game is paramount with no concern as to their skill in any other regard, because field position, particularly average starting field position, is vastly important in the NFL.

The better average starting field position results in very real points on the scoreboard.

Peyton Manning is very effective but would be even more so were we to have a dynamic return game.

That being said, two players I hope the Broncos target late in the draft are JJ Nelson from UAB or Kaelin Clay from Utah.

JJ Nelson is a WR by name only, he is a pure return man only and would never see the field as a WR. He is incredibly fast as he ran the fastest 40 time at the combine at a blistering 4.28. He had 6 special teams TD’s in his college

Oct 25, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; UAB Blazers punt returner J.J. Nelson (1) on a punt return during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas defeated UAB 45-17. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

career, 5 Kickoff TD’s and 1 Punt. He led the nation in kickoff return average last year with a standout 38.3 yards per return. He was also the 15th best punt returner in the nation, making him the only player in the nation to rank in the top-15 in both kickoff and punt returns.

Due to his lack of skill at the WR position, it is likely the Broncos could draft him in the 7th round.

The other player the Broncos could target is Kaelin Clay. He also is a WR, but is likewise a project at that position. He is not as fast as Nelson, running a 4.51 40 yard dash, but he is the better punt returner, ranking 5th in the nation last year in that category at 15.04 yards and 3 TD’s, while chipping in 1 kickoff TD.

Both of these players could step in day 1 and help the Broncos in a very tangible way. They would greatly improve average field position and thereby increase the likelihood of points per possession. That in and of itself is well worth a 7th round selection, of which the Broncos have 3 to use.

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