Could the Denver Broncos have a 1,000-yard receiving trio?

Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Any bias aside, I would legitimately put the Denver Broncos pass catchers up against any team in the league. The Broncos’ wide receiver room is the deepest in the NFL (sorry Cowboys fans) and Noah Fant was statistically a top-seven tight end last year even with Drew Lock’s horrible performance.

Many people have talked about Drew Lock making a “Josh Allen-like jump” in year three, which is valid, but rare historically. In my opinion, even if Lock is marginally better, this offense will be lethal.

With that said, I (and the rest of us) should hope that Lock or even Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback in the NFL next season.

However, if we do end up trading for Aaron Rodgers, I’d be ecstatic, and it would help prove what I think the Denver Broncos can do in 2021.

In the history of the NFL, there have only been five instances of teams having a trio of 1,000-yard pass catchers. The last instance came in 2008 with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston on the Arizona Cardinals.

Looking at the Denver Broncos pass catchers, I can’t help but wonder how close they could come to being just the 6th team to ever do this.

So, who would those players be?

For starters, Courtland Sutton is a Pro-Bowl wide receiver who had over 1,000 yards in 2019 with Drew Lock, Brandon Allen, and Joe Flacco throwing him the ball. No one doubts his ability to be a perennial 1,000-yard guy in the league. Sutton is a top 12 wide receiver in the NFL and has a very good chance at earning Comeback Player of the Year for 2021.

Next, we have Jerry Jeudy. Yeah, Jeudy struggled in 2020, and his stats weren’t as good as they could have been, but he still managed to catch 52 balls for 856 yards on a measly 46.0% catch percentage.

Jeudy had to adjust to NFL speed, worked through some inopportune drops, and had inefficient quarterback play. Even through all of this, he still managed to accumulate over 850 yards.

Just think, with Sutton coming back, and surely a slightly better quarterback situation at the least, Jeudy should have no issue eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark. To make this even more plausible, Jeudy only had one game in 2020 with 7 catches.

Would I bet on Jeudy passing the 1,000-yard mark in 2021?  Yeah, I would. I think the variables previously mentioned have a very good chance of getting resolved, allowing Jeudy to enjoy a breakout campaign.

For the last pass catcher, this is where I think it could get interesting.  In my opinion, both Tim Patrick and Noah Fant have 1,000-yard ability, but I’m having a hard time picking one of them.

As for Tim Patrick, he proved to be the Broncos’ most reliable target last season. He didn’t drop a pass and had a very good 64.6% catch percentage (passes caught per target).

He, like Jeudy, caught over 50 balls, but Patrick managed a bit less receiving yards than Jeudy with 742. Patrick also missed a game, too.

The argument for Patrick becoming a 1,000-yard receiver is virtually the same as Jeudy.  Surely better quarterback play will benefit Timmy P, and another year in Pat Shurmur’s system should theoretically help as well.

It remains to be seen how Patrick will be used being that Sutton is returning, but he surely will get a ton of playing time. He’s a very good receiver, and the Denver Broncos know this. They will get him on the field, frequently.

There is a small twist, though. If the Broncos were to trade for Aaron Rodgers, Tim Patrick could be traded back to Green Bay, so my point would become moot, but I still can’t wrap my head around how likely I think a trade for A-Rod would be.

If Patrick does get traded, the last player I think who could complete the 1,000-yard trio would be tight end Noah Fant.

Tight ends don’t typically reach this milestone.  What is seen as a ‘good’ and ‘reliable’ tight end in the NFL could be someone who catches 40 balls for 650 yards and a few scores. That stat line for a tight end would keep them employed for a long time.

Those tight ends who do reach 1,000 receiving yards are very special, and it’s clear that Fant has that potential, as he was a top-seven tight end this year, catching 62 balls for 673 yards.

Fant, like Patrick, appeared in 15 games, and let’s not forget that we have a 17 game regular season now.

Noah Fant will be going into his age 24 season in 2021 and still has a lot of time to hit his prime.  Fant has all of the athletic tools to become an elite tight end as well.

It truly would not surprise me to see Noah Fant have a few 1,000-yard seasons in his career.  Even if he ends up on another team sometime in the future, his ceiling is very high.

I do think the Denver Broncos have the potential to produce a trio of 1,000-yard pass-catchers, but it does mostly hinge on the quarterback.  If they do trade for Rodgers, I think it’s significantly more likely than if Lock or Teddy is the week 1 starter.

While I have faith in Lock to take a huge step forward, him reaching his potential ceiling even sniffing Aaron Rodgers’ is all but impossible.