How much can Denver Broncos TE Albert Okwuegbunam breakout?

Denver Broncos young TE Albert Okwuegbunam. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos young TE Albert Okwuegbunam. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

While the attention given to the Denver Broncos is going towards Russell Wilson, don’t be surprised to see Albert Okwuegbunam breakout in 2022.

After Noah Fant was shipped to Seattle in the trade for Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam became the center of attention for this position group.

While the Broncos are probably going to add a tight end to this room, Albert O is poised to begin the season as TE1 for the team.

Before setting any lofting expectations for the man, let’s give a reality check.  Albert Okwuegbunam was the 118th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

His draft profile isn’t exactly the most flattering either.  Coming out of college, he wasn’t the best prospect.  Yes, he’s got insane speed for someone his size (4.49 40-yard dash at 6’5″ and nearly 260lbs), but his profile states his overall lack of toughness, unwillingness to be an effective blocker, and raw route running.

Going into year three, I am positive Albert O has improved on a little bit of everything, but surely he’s not a top-tier tight end.  Yet?

With Russell Wilson throwing him the ball, the Denver Broncos might actually enjoy some quality play from its tight ends.  Noah Fant was solid, but due to one thing or another, it’s clear his potential was never fully reached.

So, just how much can Albert O breakout in year three?  It does usually take a few years for tight ends in the NFL to see breakout seasons, so if Albert O does indeed breakout in 2022, he’s right on schedule with many of the game’s elite players.

To get an idea of what kind of numbers we could expect, I went back to the past several seasons of Russell Wilson in Seattle to get a feel of how often he threw to his tight ends.

We also have to consider the difference in philosophy as well.  Nathaniel Hackett is Wilson’s first offensive-minded head coach, which could lend itself to a more aggressive passing attack.

I skipped over the 2021 Seattle Seahawks since Russell Wilson missed a few games.

In 2020, the Seahawks had somewhat of a tight end by committee, with three tight ends all over 200 receiving yards.

Will Dissly led the way with 251 yards.

In 2019, Jacob Hollister led the way among the Seahawks’ tight ends with 349 receiving yards.

In 2018, former Bronco Nick Vannett led the way with 269 receiving yards.

In 2017, Jimmy Graham led the way with 520 receiving yards, and also led them in 2016 with 923 yards.

It’s clear that Wilson utilized his tight ends less if they were less talented.  Imagine that.

Fortunately, Albert O heading into his fourth season is more talented than all of Jacob Hollister, Will Dissly, and Nick Vannett.

In fact, Albert O may be closer to the “old Jimmy Graham” version we saw in Seattle for a couple of seasons.

Looking back at the Seahawks and their receiving numbers, it’s clear that Russell Wilson can distribute the football to a ton of players, but he also dealt with a ton of talent deficient offenses, so some years are much more lopsided than others.

Denver has a surplus of talent on offense, so it might end up as a situation where someone like Courtland Sutton is closer to 1,000 receiving yards than he is 1,500, while Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick perhaps follow closely behind.

In what I looked at from his days in Seattle, my very unprofessional guess for Albert O’s output in 2022 is probably something around 500-600 receiving yards and 5-ish touchdowns.

He’s got the talent to be a viable tight end in both real-life and fantasy football.

I don’t think we’ll see him put up gaudy stats like the Travis Kelce’s and George Kittle’s do, but I do think he can see seasons similar to what Noah Fant had put up during his three years in Denver.

If that does indeed happen, I think the Denver Broncos would feel confident about Albert Okwuegbunam being the TE1 in Denver for the future.