Denver Broncos rookie WR turning heads, could further cloud position

When the Denver Broncos wrapped up minicamp this past week, signaling their last collective outing until training camp kicks off in late July, several noteworthy observations emerged.

Among the revelations was the growing sentiment that Jarrett Stidham appears to be leading the charge for the starting quarterback role. Equally surprising, however, is the impressive early showing of rookie wide receiver Devaughn Vele.

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Selected in the seventh round from Utah with the 235th overall pick, Vele entered the league amidst typical expectations for late-round picks — battling for practice squad spots and fighting for roster relevance in subsequent seasons. Yet, despite being 26 years old, making him an unconventional rookie, Vele has already caught the attention of the coaching staff, including notable figures like Sean Payton.

Traditionally, Payton has been conservative with rookies, gradually integrating them into the lineup. However, Vele’s performance may prompt a departure from that norm. If the Broncos opt to accelerate his development, what does the wide receiver landscape look like heading into the season opener?

The Broncos boast a formidable lineup with Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims, Josh Reynolds, and rookie Troy Franklin likely securing spots. Alongside Vele, the roster features seven other wide receivers, including established names like Tim Patrick, Brandon Johnson, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and Jalen Virgil.

The wildcard in this equation is Tim Patrick. With Vele coincidentally attending the same school as Patrick and donning his former jersey number (81, with Patrick now sporting No. 12), a direct competition between the two for a roster spot seems plausible if the Broncos are serious about Vele’s immediate impact.

Patrick’s journey to the Broncos — undrafted in 2017, navigating through multiple teams before settling in Denver — highlights the arduous path to success in the NFL. Will Vele follow a similar trajectory, starting from the practice squad and steadily climbing, or could the Broncos expedite his ascent to the main roster?

These questions promise intrigue throughout the summer, making the wide receiver corps a focal point during camp and preseason games. As competitions heat up, Vele’s progress will undoubtedly be a storyline to watch closely, potentially reshaping the Broncos’ offensive dynamics come game day.