6. Not properly addressing the WR position
Despite the fact that the Broncos went into the 2022 offseason with a lot of hype around their wide receiver position, it has turned out to be one of the worst units in the league this season.
Around this time last year, Paton signed both Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to contract extensions, and neither of those has worked out to this point. Sutton has disappointed in the WR1 seat this year, while Patrick has been sidelined with a major knee injury.
Even if you look at those team-friendly extensions as good moves to make in hindsight, there’s no arguing that they haven’t worked out up to this point, and there’s also no arguing that Paton and the front office severely underestimated the impact of losing Tim Patrick this season.
The Denver Broncos went with the “next man up” approach after Patrick’s injury, and unsurprisingly, the former undrafted players as well as Montrell Washington that have stepped up in Patrick’s place have underperformed and, frankly, disappointed. Players like Kendall Hinton, Brandon Johnson, Jalen Virgil, and Washington are young players still in development, but their development either hasn’t been fast enough or the Denver Broncos coaching staff hasn’t had them truly ready to play when their number has been called.
In addition to underestimating the impact of losing Patrick, the Broncos clearly overestimated how healthy KJ Hamler was or would be going into this season. Just before OTAs, there were rumors that the Broncos could take a receiver higher in the draft than people expected. After the team saw KJ Hamler in person at OTAs, they decided to go a different direction in the NFL Draft.
That was a huge mistake. Given the severity of Hamler’s injuries in 2021, as well as his injury struggles dating back to the 2019 season at Penn State, how could this team bank on his availability at all this season? Long story short, Hamler will have more games missed as an NFL player than games played by season’s end. You feel for Hamler because he’s a tremendous talent who wants to be out there, but from the team-building perspective, it was completely negligent not to protect yourself there.
The Broncos should have brought in more receiver help this offseason, but they completely failed to do so and they are now paying the price.