Why Courtland Sutton will break out again in 2023

Denver Broncos
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Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton has had plenty of ups and downs over his last five seasons with the team. In his first two seasons in 2018 and 2019, Sutton blossomed from a promising rookie into a borderline elite receiver. Following his 1,112 yard season in 2019, he endured an ACL injury that left him sidelined for the majority of 2020. Since then, he has played two full seasons amassing 776 yards in 2021 and 829 yards in 2022. Sutton has not come close to matching his 2019 production over his last two healthy seasons, but thanks to a new coach and offense, 2023 could be his year to shine.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton is known as an offensive guru. During his 15 seasons in New Orleans, Payton always got great production from his offensive skill positions. From Robert Meachem and Marques Colston, to Michael Thomas and Willie Snead, Payton has a history of getting the most out of receivers, and Courtland Sutton could be next.

Sutton's greatest strength is his ability to make contested catches deep down the field. He is a true big-play receiver, but over the last two seasons, those big plays have become less frequent. While much of that blame can fall on Sutton for not making the plays, just as much blame can be put on the offensive staffs for not utilizing his skill set properly. Sutton averaged 13.2 yards per catch over the last two years, but when compared to his 16.1 yards per catch from 2018-2019, it becomes clear that he simply has not had the same opportunities to make his signature big plays.

In 2019- Sutton's most productive season- most of his opportunities came on intermediate to deep routes like posts, deep overs and deep digs. In 2021 and 2022- his least productive years- Sutton grabbed most of his catches on short routes like slants, quick outs and curl routes. While he will still be running plenty of short routes this upcoming season, I suspect Sean Payton will allow Sutton to operate more in the deeper parts of the field so he can hopefully return to 2019 form.

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There are a myriad of reasons why Sutton's production has dropped over the last few years. His ACL injury, inconsistency with offensive personnel, bad quarterback play and bad play-calling have all deeply impacted his career arc, but the sixth-year wideout can still turn it around. In a new Sean Payton-led offense that will work to fully maximize its players abilities, do not be surprised if Sutton reaches new highs in 2023.