Denver Broncos tight end review: Competition at bottom of depth chart

Denver Broncos 2021 roster - Backup tight ends. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos 2021 roster - Backup tight ends. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Can Denver Broncos rookie tight end become tight end 1 at some point? What does the position look like heading into training camp?

The Denver Broncos could see some unexpected production by the tight end position in 2022. While the team included Noah Fant in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, they have a promising player in Albert Okwuegbunam. Okwuegbunam tore his ACL during his rookie season.

His goal will be to be the featured tight end in the new offensive scheme that new offensive coordinator Justin Outten brings over from the Green Bay Packers.

The team now has the combination of Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson. The plan is to utilize all of the weapons at their disposal, including the talented tight ends on the roster.

Okwuegbunam showed promise before his torn ACL. He played in just four games in 2020, recording 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.

At the 2020 scouting combine, Okwuegbunam ran the 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds. The next closest 40-yard dash among tight ends was Brycen Hopkins’ 4.66. While that’s only a fraction of a second, it is considered significant in the NFL.

Denver Broncos draft UCLA’s Greg Dulcich in 2022 NFL Draft…

After losing Fant, the Broncos needed to add a tight end through the 2022 NFL Draft. They did so with their second pick, taking UCLA Bruins tight end Greg Dulcich with the 80th overall pick.

Dulcich will be expected to show that he can be a No. 1 tight end in his rookie season. While he may not be there during the 2022 season, there will be indicators of whether or not he can be that at some point.

It is possible that Dulcich becomes a favorite target of Russell Wilson early on. But it’s also possible Okwuegbunam does too.

Dulcich averaged over 17 yards per reception during his collegiate career at UCLA. He won’t be relied on too much as a blocker, if at all. That’s where the next tight end on the roster fits in.

What about the Eric Tomlinson signing?

Not to undersell the Eric Tomlinson signing, but he won’t be the type of player Okwuegbunam or Dulcich will be. In fact, not really at all.

Tomlinson is going to be the blocking tight end. He will be expected to help create lanes or push defenders inside to help Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams find open areas to run into.

The presence of Tomlinson could be bad news for Andrew Beck, who was both a tight end and a fullback during the Vic Fangio/Pat Shurmur days. Unfortunately, there are only 53 spots on the final roster and not really much of a need to have two of the same types of role players at the tight end position.

The question will be whether or not Tomlinson can outplay Eric Saubert as a blocker during training camp. That’s going to be a battle worth watching.

Saubert was re-signed by the team this offseason on a one-year contract with a cap hit of $1,047,500.

So who is left at the Denver broncos tight end position?

Dylan Parham and Rodney Williams are probably going to be camp bodies with a chance to get placed on the practice squad.

Williams is an interesting prospect though. He comes to the Broncos as a former wide receiver whose 40-time was a solid 4.51. He put up 99 receptions for 1,217 yards and 17 touchdowns in six years at UTM.

Final Roster Prediction: Albert Okwuegbunam, Greg Dulcich, Eric Tomlinson
Practice Squad: Rodney Williams, Eric Saubert