Broncos second-year WR generated too much hype during offseason

Did Denver Broncos WR Brandon Johnson receive too much praise last offseason?

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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Is it fair to say that Denver Broncos second-year wide receiver Brandon Johnson generated too much last offseason? For the amount of praise he was receiving from coaches like Sean Payton and Joe Lombardi, you would think he would at least have some kind of role in the passing offense. However, that has not been the case through his 10 games in 2023.

Johnson, an undrafted free agent in 2022, has caught just eight passes of a mere 14 targets for 122 yards and three touchdowns in 210 offensive snaps this season. Johnson has yet to drop a single pass in 17 career games and has an impressive 125.6 passer rating when targeted in 2023, according to Pro Football Reference. With that being said, he has been a complete non-factor in Denver's offense.

Suffering a hamstring injury earlier in the season that held him out of four games after being placed on the injured reserve, Johnson has not returned to his pre-injury form. Throughout training camp in 2022 and especially 2023, Johnson was making multiple plays downfield in the absence of injured teammate Tim Patrick. Many thought he would be able to fill Patrick's role well and mold into the team's solidified WR3 behind receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton but that has not turned out to be the case.

Mostly due to injuries, Johnson has not been able to prove himself as a legitimate starting wide receiver in the NFL but consistent separation at the position has been a glaring issue for the second-year man out of Tennessee. Johnson's average target separation of two yards in 2023 ranks 138th among all qualifying wide receivers in the NFL and his 35.7% route win rate ranks 116th, according to Player Profiler.

The 25-year-old receiver is heading into the final year of his three-year contract before he becomes a restricted free agent in the offseason of 2025. His numbers are obviously very worrisome and nowhere near the production that many coaches and fans had hoped for entering the season.

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While he seemed like he was starting to find a comfortable space in the endzone with three touchdown receptions through his first four games, it does not seem like he has proved enough to receive much more playing time over players like Marvin Mims Jr. and Lil'Jordan Humphrey. Even though Denver's offense is not the most "wide receiver friendly" in terms of fairly distributing the ball, Johnson has been a massive disappointment in 2023.

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