Denver Broncos: Warren Jackson a big-time undrafted steal

Denver Broncos UDFA Warren Jackson. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos UDFA Warren Jackson. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos have a 10-player 2021 NFL Draft class coming in but undrafted free agents are always fascinating to watch as the offseason unfolds. The Denver Broncos’ history of developing undrafted players is well-documented at this point and it’s safe to assume that at least one guy from the 2021 class will wind up a significant contributor at some point in time.

Every one of the Denver Broncos’ 2021 undrafted free agents brings a certain level of intrigue to the table, especially because it’s a relatively small crop of players.

Colorado State product Warren Jackson opted out of the abbreviated 2020 season but heading into 2020, he looked like he’d be the next big-name receiver out of Colorado State drafted after guys like Michael Gallup, Bisi Johnson, and even undrafted Preston Williams who has seven touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons.

At last we saw Jackson — during the 2019 season — he had a breakout campaign of sorts with 77 receptions for 1,119 yards, eight touchdowns, and an average of 14.5 yards per catch. He was truly outstanding on downfield throws all season long, and the proof is in the company he was keeping at the time.

Being just one slot behind 2021 first-round picks Rashod Bateman and Ja’Marr Chase? Not bad at all for Mr. Jackson.

If the ball is thrown in Jackson’s general vicinity, he’s going to come down with it. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Jackson has impressive body control and can contort himself to make difficult catches in front, above, behind, or beneath.

One of the best parts of Jackson’s game is his run blocking or blocking out on swing passes or screen passes that are not thrown to him.

A lot of times, guys with the clear WR1 and alpha distinction in a passing game can seem disinterested when it comes to blocking or putting forth effort on plays when they are not getting the ball.

That is not the case with Jackson.

Studying about a half-dozen of Jackson’s game from the 2019 season, he consistently seeks out defensive backs and holds onto blocks whether the play is coming to him or not. His effort is outstanding and because he puts forth the effort, he’s often rewarded by big plays in the running game or short passing game coming right up behind him.

Jackson did not test very well in terms of speed and explosiveness. That comes across in his game on tape for sure, as he’s more of the build-up speed variety and he’s not out there creating separation like Jerry Jeudy before the ball is even out of the quarterback’s hands.

What Jackson does well is utilize leverage and his size to drive defensive backs crazy. If defenders play off coverage, they have to respect Jackson’s ability to get vertical anyway. If they play tight man coverage, Jackson has proven with a 91 percent catch rate on throws into his area that there’s not much even strong coverage can do. He’s got too strong of hands and his length is ridiculous.

Ultimately, Jackson being included in the Denver Broncos’ final roster will be based on what kind of impact he can make on special teams. If his effort as a blocker is any indication, that should not be an issue. He needs to make himself uncuttable by doing what he does best — catching the football — and making impact plays on special teams.