How special can the Broncos’ offense be in 2021?

Sports

Even with Drew lock as the quarterback, Denver Broncos linebacker Malik Reed sees much potential on offense for 2021

Take Drew Lock out of the equation for a second. What kind of team are the Denver Broncos entering 2021?

Top 15? Top 10? Heck, are they in the running for a shot at the AFC West title? All things could be true if Lock can block out the haters and build for the 2021 season in the Mile High City.

Excuses for the the third-year quarterback will be out this fall, as Denver only improved offensively this offseason. With the addition of Quinn Minerez in the trenches and Javonte Williams in the backfield, Denver’s overall offense has the chance to be a top-level unit by season’s end.

Lock or not, Broncos linebacker Malik Reed sees a lot of potential for the unit to grow throughout the fall.

“The list goes on with how many talented guys we have at every position,” Reed told FanSided’s Matt Lombardo on the Matt Lombardo Show. “I feel like we have everything we need. You just got to keep making those strides, like get everything ironed out because there’s no question.

“We have a lot of leaders and young guys that definitely have had a lot of opportunities to step into those leadership roles.”

Can the Broncos take the next step in 2021?

For now, Lock will command a five-man platoon in the passing game that could be dangerous in the open field. Returning will be Courtland Sutton, who was coming off a 1,000-yard season before a torn ACL hampered his season in Week 2.

Having a go-to target is always essential for a young quarterback to prosper in the NFL. Sutton showed his No. 1 mentality in 2019, recording  72 catches for over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns on his way to a Pro Bowl nod.

Although expected to be a No. 1 weapon, second-year wideout Jerry Jeudy is an ideal complement to Sutton’s frame in the passing game. One of the cleanest route-runners coming out of Alabama in 2020, he showed his footwork against defensive backs, winning battles in man coverage.

The biggest concerns will limiting the drops in Year 2. Last season, Jeudy recorded the second-most drops on catchable balls with 12, only two less than Steelers’ Dionate Johnson. Still, he managed to record 852 receiving yards off 52 receptions on the campaign.

Fellow second-year wideout K.J. Hamler is also expected to break out in 2021 after a mixed rookie season. Splitting reps with veterans, the speedy target from Penn State recorded 30 catches for 381 yards and three touchdowns. With DaeSean Hamilton out of the picture, expect more from Hamler on the short routes and third down efficiency.

Denver also will return veteran Tim Patrick and star tight end Noah Fant. Last season, Patrick stepped him for Sutton’s size with 51 catches and six touchdowns. Meanwhile, Fant is looking to be a solidified top-five tight end after recording 102 receptions and six touchdowns since being drafted out of Iowa.

“I’m looking forward to see how we jell,” Reed said. “Not just as a defense, not just as an offense, but a complete team because we’re going to need each other.

“We’re going to need everybody.”

Consider this a warning to all 31 other teams. If Lock is “the guy,” Denver might be ready to take the next leap in 2021.

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