Albert Okwuegbunam proving to be a steal for the Broncos

Denver Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Albert Okwuegbunam is already proving to be a steal for the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos made what seemed like a “luxury” pick in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft when they selected Drew Lock’s college pal Albert Okwuegbunam, the tremendous tight end out of Missouri.

The 2020 NFL Draft was not known for its depth at the tight end position, nor was it known for top-end talent in the class.

Okwuegbunam’s production at Missouri — 98 receptions with 23 touchdowns in three seasons — was among the best in the entire class. Not to mention, he ran a blazing 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine at 6-foot-5, 258 pounds.

That kind of speed showed up on tape for Okwuegbunam, but even more impressive was his ability to close drives in the red zone and make contested catches with very little room on the sideline.

Okwuegbunam’s production at Missouri combined with his size and athleticism should have gotten him drafted much higher than the early portion of the fourth round. How he was still available on day three is still a mystery, but the Denver Broncos won’t be complaining.

Six other tight ends went before Okwuegbunam in the 2020 NFL Draft:

  • Cole Kmet (Bears)
  • Devin Asiasi (Patriots)
  • Josiah Deguara (Packers)
  • Dalton Keene (Patriots)
  • Adam Trautman (Saints)
  • Harrison Bryant (Browns)

Only one tight end went in the top 90 picks (Kmet) and so far this season, Kmet has six catches on eight targets in eight games.

Devin Asiasi has yet to catch a pass for the Patriots, while Dalton Keene has one reception on the season.

Josiah Deguara has one catch for the Packers, while Adam Trautman has three catches for a combined 34 yards.

Harrison Bryant has been a tremendous fit for the Cleveland Browns with 15 receptions for 151 yards and three scores.

Okwuegbunam, the seventh tight end off the board in 2020, has 10 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in just three games.

Aside from Bryant, who has played in all eight games for the Browns, Okwuegbunam is substantially out-performing his peers in the 2020 NFL Draft and is on pace to absolutely destroy them this season, production-wise.

Okwuegbunam’s touchdown reception against the Chargers on Sunday was merely the tip of the iceberg for what he can contribute going forward. And it was truly one of a handful of highly impactful plays he was part of in this game. Okwuegbunam drew a drive-preserving pass interference early on the game-winning possession for the Broncos, and also drew a game-saving pass interference in the end zone just before the touchdown to KJ Hamler.

Yes, the dropped passes against the Patriots were off-putting, but it’s common for rookies to experience some jitters before they get their confidence. Okwuegbunam has never struggled with drops in the pass, so there is no reason to believe he will battle with them going forward.

As a matter of fact, now that he has made some huge plays for the Broncos’ offense, I would expect his confidence to keep growing.

Okwuegbunam has picked up right where he left off at Missouri. He’s a threat to score from virtually any part of the field. He already ranks in the top 20 of the entire NFL among tight ends in yards per game.

The Broncos’ immediate future involves a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, who have given up the most fantasy points to tight ends in the NFL including eight touchdowns.

Okwuegbunam and Noah Fant (who ranks fourth in the NFL among tight ends in receiving yards per game this season) have a chance to feast on the Falcons’ defense this week.

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Okwuegbunam’s impact in a short amount of time cannot be overstated. The Broncos got themselves a 2020 draft steal, considering he wasn’t on Pro Football Focus’ top 10 tight end board at all.