ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In an offseason in which Denver Broncos fans have had extra time to mine the wired world for even the smallest of nuggets about the team’s offseason overhaul, rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has become a ray of electronic sun.
His workout videos, usually posted on his social media accounts, have fueled plenty of drive-time discussion in his new football home, making the Broncos’ first-round pick this past April the team’s retweet king over the past two months.
When Jeudy posted a 43-second clip of some footwork drills last month, former six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson simply posted, “Moses parted the Red Sea for feet like this.”
Another 29-second clip Jeudy posted earlier this month showcased his route-running work and made Jeudy the face, and the feet, that launched a thousand emojis.
“I love the way he plays,” is how Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton put it earlier this offseason. “… He’s going to add a lot more pressure to defenses with his speed, his route-running ability. I think it’s going to open up a lot for a lot of the guys on the field.”
The Broncos say Jeudy was the top receiver on their draft board this past April when, in their efforts to rev up one of the league’s lowest-scoring offenses last season, they were more than happy to scoop him up with the 15th pick overall. He was the second receiver selected — his former teammate at Alabama Henry Ruggs III was the first wide receiver selected at No. 12 by the Las Vegas Raiders — and Jeudy is expected to be a walk-in starter for the Broncos whenever the team returns to the field.
His appearances at workouts organized by quarterback Drew Lock in recent weeks had teammates buzzing about his potential in an offense that needed upgrading. The Broncos finished 28th or worse last season in most of the major categories on offense, including scoring, total offense, third-down conversions and red zone scoring. They scored 16 or fewer points nine times last season and went 2-7 in those games.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio has summed up Jeudy’s potential by saying: “We think he’s hard to cover, and once he does catch it, he can run pretty good with it after. It’s as simple as that. Can you cover him or not?”
The Broncos want, and need, Jeudy to arrive — whenever the team gets the green light to open training camp — with the intention of not only playing a great deal but also having an impact in the offense.
He averaged a touchdown every six catches during his three seasons at Alabama. He flashed 4.45-second speed in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. But it is his footwork and route-running versatility that has so much optimism swirling around him.
Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway called it “the ability to plant a foot and get out of a break.” And one of the things Elway said he liked most about Jeudy in the pre-draft windup — “the way he wants to attack the game of the football” — is also now one of the things some of his new teammates have pointed out this summer.
In the end, history has shown it has been a bit of an uphill struggle initially for the team’s first-round picks at wide receiver. The past four wide receivers the Broncos selected in the first round over the past 33 years — Ricky Nattiel, Marcus Nash, Ashley Lelie and Demaryius Thomas — finished their rookie seasons with two, four, 35 and 22 catches, respectively.
But those feet, those quick feet, to go with a savvy nuance in his routes, give Jeudy an opportunity to do more.
“It’s that footwork, the ability to separate, get off bump, that means a guy can have some impact right away,” former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “From what I’ve seen myself, what I’ve heard, [Jeudy] has that.”