Denver Broncos: Kendall Hinton singled out by Vic Fangio

Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) warms up before a game against the New Orleans Saints at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Kendall Hinton (2) warms up before a game against the New Orleans Saints at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Getting a compliment from Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is no small accomplishment for players on the roster. Fangio does not hand out compliments or high marks to the media regarding players just for offseason fluff pieces. He calls things how they are, says what’s on his mind, and he’s known for being highly critical if not bordering on perfectionist.

With that context in mind, it cannot be overstated just how important it is that Fangio singled out second-year wide receiver Kendall Hinton for his efforts at OTAs and all of his offseason work thus far.

"The guy that has had a really good camp from the start of OTAs until now has been [WR] Kendall [Hinton]. He’s really looked good as a receiver and he’s improved a lot. He’s in the hunt for one of those spots.Vic Fangio (via Denver Broncos PR)"

Hinton, of course, is very well-known for making a spot start in the 2020 season in an actual regular season game at home against the New Orleans Saints. Hinton was once a high school and college quarterback at Wake Forest before making the transition to the wide receiver position late in his Demon Deacon career when he became a dynamic weapon out of the slot.

With COVID protocols in place last season, the Denver Broncos infamously found themselves heading into an actual NFL game without a quarterback available to play, which is where Hinton came into the mix.

Hinton hadn’t even dressed for a game at that point, but he found himself starting at quarterback against one of the league’s best defenses. He completed one pass in the game, but regardless of how well or how poorly he played, it was an absolutely historic moment in NFL history in one of the strangest circumstances you will ever see in all of professional sports.

When was the last time you saw a AAA outfielder called up to an MLB roster to be the team’s starting pitcher?

This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen.

Needless to say, most people will remember Hinton for his efforts as the “break glass in case of emergency” quarterback for the Denver Broncos in the 2020 season, but not many people are familiar with his work as a wide receiver.

According to the team’s head coach, his work there has been impressive enough to be singled out.

Fangio did not name any other individual player, nor did he really guarantee anything for Hinton. You can bet the Denver Broncos have a good amount of gratitude for Hinton being willing to put himself out there the way that he did, showing a ton of courage to go out and let his first NFL action be of the fish out of water variety.

Hinton is a competitor, and his grit against the Saints last year showed exactly that.

In 2021, Hinton has a new jersey number and a new shot to make the team.

With the Denver Broncos’ current depth at wide receiver, it would be slightly shocking to see any bottom-of-the-roster guys make the team, but it’s not out of the question at all.

The Broncos have Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler entrenched on the roster at this point. It’s fair to say that Tyrie Cleveland is another player the team is excited about both for his role on the offense as well as on special teams.

Diontae Spencer is more of a specialist than a receiver, but he’s one of the better return men in the NFL right now and that is extremely valuable to the Broncos.

How many receivers can this team keep? Seven? Eight?

Seth Williams was a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and that draft status doesn’t exactly guarantee him a roster spot but you also don’t just want to go around cutting sixth-round picks.

The Broncos currently lack depth at the tight end position with just two guys who have solidified spots right now in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. What if the Broncos get a little creative in their roster construction and keep a bunch of receivers but fewer tight ends, and use the practice squad call-ups to supplement depth at tight end?

The Broncos are under no obligation to save Hinton a spot on the team, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he had a bit of an edge over other guys for his efforts in the 2020 regular season. That edge wouldn’t matter if Hinton wasn’t playing well in OTAs, which according to the team’s head coach, he has been.

We still have the rest of OTAs, training camp, and preseason before ultimately determining what’s going to happen with Hinton and his future with the Denver Broncos. For the time being, he’s putting in the kind of work and showing the kind of improvements to get a regular season role in 2021, and not as an emergency quarterback.