It appears as though any worries fans in Denver Broncos Country had over whether or not Sean Payton "liked" Greg Dulcich may have been a bit overblown. A year ago at this time, the Greg Dulcich hype train was an out-of-control locomotive. At the time, it looked like Dulcich was going to be one of the biggest steals of the 2022 rookie class with the way he was stealing headlines throughout OTAs, but the hype train had to come to a screeching halt when Dulcich suffered an unfortunate hamstring injury.
Back in January, when asked about his evaluation of Dulcich -- who played just 10 games as a rookie due to the lingering hamstring issue -- new head coach Sean Payton didn't exactly give the most glowing review.
"We’ll see. We haven’t gone through every player relative to the evaluation process. Some of it was hard—the evaluation. Some of it was hard."- Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)
It was a worrisome comment because you see what Dulcich did last year for the Broncos and you immediately think, well certainly he was one of the top offensive playmakers and one of the only consistent sources of 'good' on that side of the ball. For Payton to be a bit subdued back in January is not overly surprising. He was still brand-new as far as being the Denver Broncos' coach, and likely hadn't done a full deep dive on every single player.
Now that he's been with the team for five months, he's gotten the chance to see these guys up close. And now that they're doing some actual football things on the field, it's clear that Greg Dulcich is greatly impressing Sean Payton. After Thursday's OTAs, Payton heaped some praise on Dulcich that is going to have fans wanting to go and buy the guy's jersey.
"Well, look, he’s got a unique skill set, he’s got traits in the passing game. We use a term “joker” where we can get matchups. The trick sometimes is to predict what you’re going to get defensively if you’re going to get a nickel package or a base package. But man, he can run. He’s got good ball skills. He had one of his better practices today. So then you begin to build on that. Right now there’s an install that’s taking place and the players they go play those “spots”. When you get into the season, you really get more specific to who’s running what route. I think his menu is gonna be lengthy in the passing game, and there’s enough stuff that we can do in the run game. I’ve been lucky enough — I’ve had Shockey and Witten, Jimmy Graham, and I’m probably leaving out a few guys. And I’m not saying, “This young player…” But he’s got traits that are exciting, and today was one of those days where you begin to have a vision. We worked on third down today. So the “joker” player for us is not a receiver, it’s either a running back or a tight end with exceptional ball skills, and then you can work matchups. We’ve had that at the running back — Reggie Bush was a “joker”, Darren Sproles, Alvin Kamara — those were all unique players not just in the running game, but they had passing game skill sets that allowed you to do multiple things. I think Greg does too."- Sean Payton
Yes, there's a lot to unpack in that quote, but the biggest thing coming out of it is the fact that Payton seemingly views Greg Dulcich as this "joker" player, similar to guys he's had in the past like running backs Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, and Alvin Kamara. It sounds, to me, like Payton is salivating at the chance to potentially utilize Dulcich as a mismatch player in the offense, which is a completely different tone than many have taken throughout the 2023 offseason.
I personally thought the Denver Broncos' actions were trending away from fully buying into Greg Dulcich. They were looking at tight ends in the NFL Draft, and they traded for Adam Trautman after signing Chris Manhertz. But it's clear that Payton highly values that tight end position. He's referenced guys like Shockey, Witten, and Graham on numerous occasions, and it seems like perhaps Dulcich is settling into being "the guy" for Payton now that he's gotten the chance to work with him on the field a little bit.
The Greg Dulcich locomotive is back. The hype train is once again chugging at full strength.