Denver Broncos rookie WR Courtland Sutton standing out early
Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Courtland Sutton is turning heads with his big-play ability and phenomenal athleticism…
While Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph admitted that rookie wide receiver and second-round pick Courtland Sutton has a ways to go in terms of his route running, no one has been able to deny his ability to make incredible catches.
As noted in this post about Sutton from a few weeks ago, one of the things he does really well to compensate for raw route running skills is make phenomenal adjustments to the football.
Let’s backtrack even a little bit further…
The Denver Broncos signed quarterback Case Keenum this offseason, and one reason Keenum was signed to a big-money deal by the Broncos was the fact that last year in Minnesota, he not only threw to open receivers, but he threw his receivers open.
There’s a difference, and that’s not a grammatical error.
When a receiver is covered well, and a quarterback has nowhere to go with the ball, there are a couple of options.
The quarterback can obviously try and take off and run, or they can take a sack. They can also throw the ball away. Keenum’s first instinct was always seemingly to buy some more time with the ball, and not always take off and run or just get clear of pressure and throw the ball away cleanly, but to throw his receivers open.
What that means is that he would throw the ball to a spot where the coverage is not, and allow the receiver to go up and make a play.
I can’t tell you how many times on tape I saw Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Jarius Wright, or even Kyle Rudolph go up and just make plays on the football.
It’s not that the ball was poorly thrown, but Keenum knew he had targets in the passing game that could make adjustments to their coverage and create separation at the catch point.
That brings us back to Courtland Sutton.
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Sutton is a player who thrives making plays when the ball is put in a spot where he and the defensive back have to compete for a chance to get it. He creates separation with his basketball rebounding-style leaping ability, as well as long arms and very strong hands.
That’s what he’s done so far at OTAs, and while it’s not wise to draw conclusions from one or two sets of practice, this has been a habit of Sutton’s for a long time now.
There’s no denying he’s an elite physical specimen, but the fact that he’s already drawing some attention at Broncos practice should come as a surprise to no one, considering the incredible plays he made at SMU.
Over the years, anytime the Broncos have brought in a player with this combination of size and athleticism (I am reminded of Brandon Marshall in 2006 and Demaryius Thomas in 2010) it’s hard for fans and media to take their eyes off of them.
So, while Sutton is somewhat unrefined as a route runner, the Broncos are going to find ways to get him the football because despite being raw in route running, he’s one of the best receivers in this rookie class at creating separation at the catch point and coming down with 50-50 balls.
Case Keenum made a lot of money throwing receivers open, and he’s got a fantastic weapon in Sutton who can make those same types of plays.