Denver Broncos: Isaiah McKenzie breaks out for Buffalo Bills
The Denver Broncos prematurely decided Isaiah McKenzie was an expendable asset, and he proved his worth immediately with the Buffalo Bills.
If there’s one thing that has been indisputably frustrating since Vance Joseph became the head coach of the Denver Broncos, it’s internal player development.
Joseph’s first draft class in Denver has been an utter waste to this point with Garett Bolles being the only significant contributor in more than one-and-a-half seasons to this point.
Here’s a quick look at the Broncos’ 2017 class and where they are today:
1. Garett Bolles, OT — Broncos starting left tackle
2. DeMarcus Walker, DL — Gameday inactive most of his first two seasons, makes plays when given snaps
3a. Carlos Henderson, WR — Not on an NFL roster
3b. Brendan Langley, CB — On Broncos practice squad
5a. Jake Butt, TE — On injured reserve for second consecutive season
5b. Isaiah McKenzie, WR/PR — On Buffalo Bills active roster
6. De’Angelo Henderson, RB — On New York Jets active roster
7. Chad Kelly, QB — Not on an NFL roster
It’s shocking that only two players from this draft class are on the Broncos’ active roster, and frustrating beyond belief that only one player is making gameday contributions almost two years in.
Because of the fact that Bolles is really the only one on this list making an impact right now, it’s not a good look for Joseph if someone from this class gets an opportunity elsewhere and has success.
The Broncos had (too much) patience with Isaiah McKenzie as a rookie when he had six fumbles on punt returns (three lost) and were able to bring him back in 2018 as a practice squad member.
McKenzie was up and down on the Broncos’ active roster and after his most recent release (in favor of River Cracraft), the Buffalo Bills swooped in and picked the Human Joystick off of waivers.
McKenzie was hardly the playmaker in Denver that he was at Georgia, but he certainly showed flashes of his potential at times, and Denver was lucky to be able to hold onto him with as many times as he hit the waiver wire.
He hit the wire one too many times and in the Buffalo Bills’ shocking victory this past Sunday, McKenzie had a major impact.
He touched the ball as a kick returner, punt returner, receiver, and runner out of the backfield, racking up 121 total yards on nine touches.
This is the same Isaiah McKenzie who was unable to do anything right in Denver?
This is yet another sad indictment on Vance Joseph and his staff for their inability to develop talent in-house. The Broncos have a stellar rookie class in 2018 but how many times have we discussed the fact that Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay need more touches?
Or how many times has it been talked about that DaeSean Hamilton needs more snaps, or Josey Jewell needs to be in the lineup, or Isaac Yiadom should be playing more?
The inability of this coaching staff to properly develop players is now resulting — slowly but surely — in other teams showing how to maximize the talent these guys have in them.
It’s exciting for McKenzie to have some success in another city with another franchise, but it’s very frustrating from the Broncos’ perspective to see a player who has so much talent go to another place and put together the type of all-around game everyone hoped he could have while he was wearing orange and blue.