Broncos cannot leave this undrafted rookie off the 53-man roster

Undrafted free agent Jaleel McLaughlin has been a sight to see.

Aug 11, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Denver Broncos running back Jaleel McLaughlin (38) slaps hands
Aug 11, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Denver Broncos running back Jaleel McLaughlin (38) slaps hands / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have fallen to 0-2 in the preseason following another last-second loss, this time to the San Francisco 49ers.

But the preseason is not about wins and losses. It is about finding the right players for the final 53-man roster. With that in mind, there can be almost no way that the team leaves undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin off the roster.

McLaughlin went undrafted out of Youngstown State, but the day he was signed it was a noteworthy transaction. Despite his size (5-foot-7, 187 pounds), he put up massive rushing numbers in college and he was tabbed as a player to watch over the summer.

This summer, he has been nothing short of fantastic. In two preseason games, McLaughlin has posted the following stats:

11 carries, 65 yards, 2 TDs
2 receptions, 8 yards, 1 TD
2 kick returns, 44 yards

That has come in limited action, playing with (and against) backup players.

But McLaughlin has something. He's quick. He's shifty. He can make guys miss and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

The top two running backs on the Broncos' roster are clearly Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, but I am here to make the case that McLaughlin is not only a player who should be on the roster, but he might be the No. 3 running back on the depth chart.

The Broncos have one more preseason game remaining, but there won't be a good reason to leave him off the final roster at this point, particularly when the other backs on the roster (Tyler Badie, Tony Jones and Dwayne Washington) have not looked anywhere near as good.

McLauglin may be small, but he can also be the latest to put that garbage argument about a player's size to rest. It seems that at least one player does that every year in the league and he can certainly be the latest. And, to beat a dead horse, he plays for a coach that turned 5-foot-5 Darren Sproles into an absolute superstar.

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The Broncos will have some tough roster decisions to make before the regular season kicks off and McLaughlin will no doubt be on that list. But as touched on here, it's not likely that he will clear waivers if the team tries to sneak him onto the practice squad.