Denver Broncos should make Albert Okwuegbunam TE2

Denver Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos need to make Albert Okwuegbunam their TE2 sooner than later.

When the Denver Broncos drafted Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they knew exactly what they were doing.

The team actually consulted with quarterback Drew Lock before making Okwuegbunam their top pick on day three of the 2020 NFL Draft, a class that was certainly not heralded for its talent at the tight end position.

Because of the lack of top-tier tight end talent in the 2020 class, it’s a wonder Okwuegbunam and his tremendous athleticism and mismatch potential did not go higher.

Okwuegbunam, physically at least, profiles very similar to 2019 first-round pick Noah Fant. Up to this point, none of us have gotten the privilege of seeing Fant and Okwuegbunam on the field at the same time.

That could soon change.

Okwuegbunam was targeted six times in his first-ever NFL game, catching two passes for 45 yards.

Among those six targets, Okwuegbunam could have probably had at least two touchdowns. Drew Lock was targeting his former Missouri teammate early and often, and after one of Okwuegbunam’s big plays early in the game, Lock even told him coming back to the huddle that it was “just like college”.

With Fant on the mend from an ankle injury and hopefully back this week against the Kansas City Chiefs, there is undoubtedly no better time for the Broncos to break out their ‘fast’ two-tight end sets for the very first time.

Not only would the Broncos be breaking out that specific offensive alignment for the first time, but this week will be the first time since the first two quarters of the season against the Tennessee Titans that the Broncos will have had the opportunity to put both Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay on the field at the same time.

Even if the Broncos are not able to snap a nine-game (yeah, nine) losing streak against the Kansas City Chiefs, this massive game will be a chance for Pat Shurmur to play around with some of the most fascinating personnel groupings he can realistically come up with right now.

Why should Albert Okwuegbunam be his TE2? Doesn’t blocking matter?

It does, but it’s not like free agent signing Nick Vannett has done a great job of it. Vannett and Butt will still be on the field to block, sure, but Okwuegbunam needs to see more snaps than those guys unless the Broncos are absolutely destroying the Chiefs on the ground.

In one game, Okwuegbunam was targeted six times with two receptions for 45 yards. In five games total this season, Nick Vannett, Jake Butt, and Andrew Beck have combined for 11 targets with five catches and just 13 yards.

There is no question that Okwuegunam has a bigger impact on the passing game than the other three options besides Noah Fant, and his ability to create mismatches is something the Broncos can no longer do without.

Okwuegbunam should be the team’s TE2, just like he was drafted to eventually be. The drops were uncharacteristic and Okwuegbunam deserves grace as a rookie playing in his first game.

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He is a weapon and a major asset to the Broncos’ offense going forward.