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The Denver Broncos wide receiver room is suddenly deep with young talent, in large part due to the early emergence of the 2018 rookies, Courtland Sutton and Dasean Hamilton, but it doesn’t end there.
After years of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders being backed up by a whole lot of nothing, there are suddenly lots of wideouts in contention for the 53-man roster as we approach the start of training camp.
Two intriguing but relatively unknown members of the Broncos receiver room are undrafted free agents—TCU’s John Diarse and Utah’s Tim Patrick. Both have stood out this offseason in OTAs and mini camp and could give 2017 draftees like Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie a run for there money this summer.
Diarse was playing college football last season in the Big 12, while Patrick’s been in the league for a year now, bouncing around a bit before he was picked up by Denver in 2017.
We went back to the tape to see what these two physically imposing wideouts bring to the table and how they could fit into the Broncos roster this season.
He’ll bite you in Diarse
John Diarse measured in at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds at his pro day and uses his weight well as he’s a physical presence. He arrived at TCU via a transfer from LSU after never living up to his four-star status when he received offers from Alabama among others.
Diarse has really strong hands—see the spectacular one-handed touchdown against Oklahoma below—and is a contested catch specialist.
He uses great body position to do damage and will box defensive backs and make tough grabs in traffic. He’s also very talented tracking the ball and does a nice job coming back to the rock.
The Mississippi native is thick with a strong build and absolutely bullies defensive backs in the open field as a runner with the ball in his hands. He has the upside to be a good blocker outside, too.
The former TCU wideout has shown the ability to tip-toe towards the sideline, uses good footwork and has good field awareness. He is a powerful and extremely physical receiver who loves to punish DBs and seeks out contact. As a runner, he’ll lower his shoulder and truck tacklers or knock them down with nasty stiff arms.
He rarely will go down on first contact and consistently broke multiple tackles on tape throughout his college career.
His production in college was never eye-popping in one of the nation’s most prolific passing attacks last year, which is a big reason why he’s flown under the radar and went undrafted. His three-cone drill time of 7.19 was far from special, showing limited quickness in and out of cuts. Because of this, he won’t be a weapon in the slot and is likely limited to being an outside, possession receiver.
He’s a one-speed athlete, who doesn’t possess blistering foot speed, though he ran a 4.58 at his pro day which was faster than most expected. He might have some untapped athletic potential and shows pretty good leaping skills.
Diarse profiles perfectly as a possession receiver with strong hands who can bully defensive backs mid-air, his style of play is reminiscent of Anquan Boldin at times. Though he won’t create consistent separation, and can’t be an option over the middle due to his limited agility, he manages to make plays thanks to his propensity to gain position on DBs and strong hands in contested grab situations.
While his stats don’t back it up—only three touchdowns in 2017— he shows all the skills to be a dangerous red-zone target.
Our Ryan Koenigsberg predicted Diarse would be a standout in training camp, and after watching tape, you can see why. He’s already impressed in his brief stint as a Bronco and could become a valuble weapon in Denver; he’s certainly a name to watch as the receiver competition heats up.
Patrick’s frame and speed give him big-time upside
Tim Patrick is yet another Utah product, as the Broncos now have five players on offense who played for the Utes from 2015 to 2016.
While I was at Broncos mini-camp, Patrick was impressive. He’s a man among boys on the outside with his 6-foot-4, 212-pound frame and a massive catch radius which he put to good use as he can tower over cornerbacks.
When watching tape, Patrick stood out as a good blocker, and with his massive size, he has the ability to be even better.
It’s also evident that he’s bulked up since his days with the Utes where he had a leaner frame, there’s room for him to fill out more too. Given some of the unknowns at the tight end position and the depth at receiver, it might not be crazy to try him as a big slot, or defacto receiving tight end and red-zone target if he can add even more weight.
Patrick was limited by injuries in college, missing all of the 2015 season, but he showed real flashes in 2016, especially early on in the year before again dealing with the injury bug.
The big wideout was amazing at his pro day back in 2016, running a sub 4.5 40 and posting a 37.5-inch vert. It’s easy to see that Patrick has plenty of potential as a big target with speed. His big frame allows him to be a mismatch problem all over the field.
He played really well against former first-round cornerback Adoree Jackson, one of the most athletic defensive backs to enter the draft this decade.
On only 45 receptions in his final season, he had five touchdowns, he has a knack for the end zone and the potential to develop into a legitimate threat. He’s also a deceptive big-play weapon due to his combination of size and speed.
Patrick’s also a promising route runner, though he needs to be sharper in his cuts. There’s a decent amount of untapped upside with Patrick, who seems to finally be fully healthy this season.
Patrick’s developing in his ability to use his frame to box-out corners and gain position on defenders, which will come in handy combined with his ability to stretch out to make tough grabs.
If he can develop and be nastier against smaller defenders, he has the makings of a prototypical outside receiver with the frame to grow into an even more dangerous weapon.
There are also some holes in his game as he doesn’t possess great burst and has to build up speed. He needs to be stronger and more physical in separating from press coverage, where he doesn’t dominate like his size would warrant.
More concerning is that on tape there were a few too many drops. He doesn’t always show the most natural hands to extend and make tough catches away from his body.
The Broncos receiver battle is wide open this offseason. After Thomas, Sanders, Sutton, and Hamilton, who are locks to make the roster, there are nine potential candidates who’ll compete for two spots, as likely only six will make the final 53-man roster.
At this point, the competition for making the practice squad might be pretty tight, as well. While they’re definitely outside candidates to make the roster, Patrick and Diarse have intriguing skills which could allow them to out-perform what they did in college.
If they can make it past waivers, they’d be worth keeping on the practice squad, as they could come in handy if Sanders or Thomas were to leave next season. That is, unless they surprise us all and make the roster right out of training camp.