The Denver Broncos are hoping they struck gold with a gem out of the Colorado Buffaloes program in 2019, this time with WR Juwann Winfree.
Juwann Winfree has a big-time wide receiver skill set and he put it all out there over the last five years in a very small sample size.
Winfree only played major college football in three of the last five years with a short stint in JUCO, and in those three seasons of D1 college ball, he caught just 60 passes.
Hey, DK Metcalf only caught 67, so let’s settle down for a second.
In essence, we have from Winfree what I would consider to be one solid ‘year’s worth’ of production at the receiver position between his time at Maryland (2014) and Colorado (2017-18) with 60 receptions for 807 yards and six touchdowns.
But if you scout simply based on the box score, you’ll miss out. I’m here to tell you and show you why Winfree is a big-time playmaker with a small highlight package who can be an effective weapon for the Broncos from day one.
Name: Juwann Winfree
Weight: 210 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.50
Vertical jump: 33 inches
Broad jump: 125 inches
Bench press: 16 reps
What do these numbers mean?
Winfree is listed by the Broncos at 6-foot-3, but he checked in at his pro day at just over 6-foot-1. I split the difference and gave him 6-foot-2 when wearing shoes.
This guy has great size and speed for the receiver position with an average vertical jump and solid upper body strength with 16 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds.
Winfree ran a sub-7 second three-cone, which measures short-area quickness. That’s what you want to see and the lower that number is in the 6’s, the better. Running that in 6.97 seconds is solid, as is the 4.50 in the 40-yard dash which shows us that this is a big, strong, fast, and quick player athletically.
Maryland Days (2014)
Winfree, a native of Englewood, NJ, went to play his college football at Maryland where he was an immediate contributor to the offense.
You’d better believe we dug up some of his work with the Terps. Here’s a deep ball touchdown he had back in 2014:
Even as a freshman at Maryland, Winfree showed the kind of playmaker he’s capable of being with big plays downfield and the ability to adjust to poorly thrown footballs and catch the ball away from his body.
Unfortunately, as promising as his freshman highlights were at Maryland, Winfree was dismissed from the team for violating their code of conduct, and he was forced to continue his football career elsewhere in 2015.
He ended up at Coffeyville Community College and balled out.
Coffeyville Community College
Winfree had to find a place to play football after being dismissed from Maryland and put his career back on track. He ended up in Kansas at Coffeyville Community College where a number of current and former NFL players have done the same thing.
As with every highlight reel of a player, you want to see more after watching that.
Winfree proved he was still a big-time playmaker at Coffeyville and wound up getting an offer to come to play at Colorado.
He made the move in 2016 to play for the Buffaloes, and according to his official team bio, he was impressing in offseason workouts before tearing his ACL and missing his comeback season.
It was a huge blow for Winfree, especially considering the positive momentum he had despite being kicked out of Maryland and playing the previous season at a community college.
He finally got a chance to play at Colorado in 2017, catching 21 passes his first season there including two touchdowns, both 50-plus yard plays.
Winfree followed up his 2017 campaign by catching 28 passes in an injury-riddled 2018 season, including another pair of scores.
In his time at Colorado, Winfree caught 49 total passes, 26 of which were for 10 yards or more.
Winfree came a long way from getting kicked off the Maryland team, earning captainship at Colorado his senior season there.
What Winfree Brings to the Table
I absolutely love what Winfree brings as a receiver prospect, even looking at a small sample of 60 catches at the D1 level and some highlights at Coffeyville CC in Kansas.
He understands, first and foremost, that his opportunity is a precious one, and he’s done a good job changing his perspective and approach in that regard. Here’s what he said about the adversity he’s faced since he started his journey in college.
"“It feels like everything right now. To be around my family and have all this come alive—this is all I’ve been working for since I was a kid. It just helps prove that God is real. He’s been on my side and everything happens for a reason. I just never stop, and I never will stop. I still have a far way to go and this is step one. I’m just happy that I got my foot in the door. I’m just blessed that I have an opportunity right up the road. I don’t have to go far. I just thank the Broncos for believing in me.”Juwann Winfree (quote via Broncos PR)"
Translatable NFL Skills
In addition to having NFL size, Winfree has consistently — through every stop he made in college — shown NFL-caliber hands.
He does a great job of securing the ball when it’s thrown his way, catching the ball away from his body and showing an impressive catch radius.
There are some plays that didn’t make the highlight reels and some that did where Winfree is reaching back across his body to make catches, falling to the ground and diving for low-throw balls, or tracking the ball over the shoulder for a big-time play downfield.
He showed his strong hands in contested catch situations as well, including an impressive red zone touchdown against Colorado State in 2018.
Winfree seems to be a very advanced route runner and that kind of polish will make him a very attractive player for the Broncos right away.
He sells routes to sit down in zones, he sells double moves, he has quick and active feet, he uses great upper body movement to feign direction and sharp cuts out of his breaks to create separation in space.
He’s clearly a very proud technician when it comes to route running, and the best highlight of his is this double move he put on a USC defensive back. Simply put, it’s one of the best routes I have seen from a college player.
Winfree is such a smooth mover and he understands how to manipulate his speed and quickness to get open.
He can play inside as a big slot or on the outside and work vertically, back to the football, in the screen game, or towards the middle of the field.
It’s clear why the Broncos felt like they got a steal with Winfree.
After he only played 21 games of D1 college football with less than ideal QB situations, he had to hope what he put on tape was good enough to impress coaches and scouts.
The Broncos invited Winfree to their local pro day, which was run by the coaching staff, and Zach Azzanni (wide receivers coach) was extremely pleased with what Winfree did at the workout.
The Broncos’ front office was so pleased, in fact, that they decided to trade up in round six to get this kid.
He showed on tape he’s got what it takes to excel in the NFL.
- Ball skills
- Smooth route runner
- Wins contested catches
- Plays slot and outside
- Makes plays after the catch
Even if Winfree develops into just a role player offensively, I think he showed well enough at all of his three stops in college football even when he didn’t get the ball or when the quarterback missed him that he can make an impact year one in the NFL.
He’s not a limited player in that he doesn’t just excel at one specific thing. He’s not just a great athlete. He clearly pays attention to detail at the receiver position and has a well-rounded game overall.
Kudos to the Broncos’ staff for unearthing this kid despite his injuries, crazy journey to the NFL, and limited sample size in general.