Brandon Johnson, Jalen Virgil could be silver lining for Broncos following Tim Patrick injury

- Jalen Virgil and Brandon Johnson both went undrafted in 2022 but looked good as rookies. Now, they could become a much bigger part of the team.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Jalen Virgil (15) runs in a touch down in the second quarter at Nissan
Denver Broncos wide receiver Jalen Virgil (15) runs in a touch down in the second quarter at Nissan / George Walker IV / / USA

Perhaps the strongest group within the 90-man roster for the Denver Broncos was the wide receiver position and now that will be put to the test.

On Monday, the Broncos lost Tim Patrick to a torn Achilles. For the second year in a row, almost to the day, Patrick has gone down with a season-ending injury.

The team also waived former second-round pick K.J. Hamler with a non-football illness designation as he is suffering from a heart ailment. Though there is talk that Hamler could be brought back down the road, it was always going to be tough for him to make this year's team.

These losses have to have some sort of silver lining as the entire 2023 season is still in front of us. For me, that would come in the form of two undrafted wide receivers that each showed glimpses of promise last season, Jalen Virgil and Brandon Johnson.

Virgil joined the Broncos after going undrafted out of Appalachian State. He was able to make the team's final 53-man roster to start the season and he ended up suiting up for nine games, catching two passes for 75 yards.

One of those catches, his first as a pro, turned into this 66-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.

The team also has Brandon Johnson, undrafted out of Central Florida, a player who looked even better last summer than Virgil and was on track to make the final roster before suffering an injury in the preseason finale. That led to him being waived with an injury settlement but he re-signed with the team in October and worked his way up off the practice squad to participate in regular season games.

Johnson finished the season with six catches for 42 yards and a score.

Though neither of these players put up massive numbers, it's those who have seen them in practices last season and training camp thus far this season that can attest to the fact that there is something there with both of these guys.

The Broncos have Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton at the top of the depth chart, but the losses of Patrick and Hamler bump everyone else up a slot, notably rookie Marvin Mims, Jr. and Marquez Callaway.

However, I believe that there is now an avenue for both Johnson and Virgil to make this final roster.

Both players are over 6-feet tall and have good hands. They are the types of wide receivers that Russell Wilson likes to throw to, and the types that Sean Payton likes to get involved in his offense.

Remember, Rod Smith — the best wide receiver in team history — was an undrafted wide receiver that started way down the depth chart. He was built similarly to these players and though he wasn't a speedster, his hands, ability to get open and football savvy turned him into one of the most successful receivers in the league at that time.

While it may be too much to put all of that on Johnson and Virgil right now, there is definitely a spot for them both in the NFL. Now is their time to seize it.