Denver Broncos’ AJ Derby is the Forgotten Tight End
The Denver Broncos tight end position boasts players like Jeff Heuerman, Virgil Green and now Jake Butt, but the forgotten guy in the group is AJ Derby.
Acquired in a trade via the enemy (New England Patriots), AJ Derby saw the field more the Jeff Heuerman did for the Denver Broncos. Derby presents a skill set needed to help the passing game. There is a scenario where four tight ends might see the field in 2017, but certainly not all at once. Comfortably is key to Derby when helping a quarterback.
Derby is a smart tight end that runs routes like a wide receiver understanding the soft spot in a zone for a quarterback to see him. He is even elusive enough to get the tough, extra yards needed for a first down. In a Mike McCoy offense, Derby could see his role split outside at times, but not often. Derby said this month the whole group is excited to work with McCoy.
“I think this is a great offense for tight ends. I think McCoy’s past record in San Diego shows that. The whole room is really excited to see what we can do this season” said Derby.
Derby already sees potential for more movement in the offense.
“Just more spread out and more movement. Like what San Diego did with their tight ends, they had two on the field like Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. They’re just using a lot more tight ends and having them be more versatile. Last year it was just learning the week-by-week plays. This year is building on the whole system,” stated Derby regarding the change of offense.
The Denver Broncos tight end plays with the same style as an Owen Daniels or Joel Dressen. Both tight ends thrived in a pass heavy attack. Same could be said about Derby in a forgotten tight end position. Virgil Green is on his last leg of a contract. Jeff Heuerman cannot stay healthy, New draftee Jake Butt will be healthy, but might not see action in 2017.
All things considered and despite the key turnovers Derby sustained in the regular season, the Broncos have a reliable option in Derby. However, those turnovers and holding on to the ball with two hands in critical situations must change heading into next season. Derby has to be aware of the situation on the field.
Next: A fully healthy Jamaal Charles is bad for Broncos Opponents
A new year brings optimism and chance to write a new chapter. For Derby, this is an opportunity to start the race over again and prove to be the player John Elway saw in him when he made that trade.