Broncos bolster offense with SMU receiver Courtland Sutton
ENGLEWOOD — Mix Demaryius Thomas’ size and strength with Emmanuel Sanders’ pedigree and athleticism and you’ve got Courtland Sutton, the wide receiver chosen in the second round by the Denver Broncos.
“He’s big and he can really run,” general manager John Elway said Friday night. “He can make the very difficult catch and make great catches. We also think he’s very raw and has lots of upside.”
Thomas and Sanders “are going to be great role models for him,” Elway added.
Sanders tweeted a video of the two of them working out together last month in Dallas, saying the he and Sutton “joked about how lethal we’d be together.”
Now, the laugh is on Denver’s opponents.
With the first of two third-round picks, the Broncos added Oregon’s all-time leading rusher Royce Freeman, a big back who ran for a Pac-12-record 60 career touchdowns but carried 947 times in four seasons in Eugene, putting plenty of miles on his football odometer.
“You make sure that you do all you can do to take care of yourself,” Freeman said. “Go in for treatment and make sure you’re taking care of your body first because it is your vessel and your tool that you have in this game. That’s helped me have the production that I have so far in my career.”
The Broncos went back to defense with their second third-round selection, choosing Boston College cornerback Isaac Yiadom, who broke up 17 passes in the last two seasons.
The Broncos needed a top-tier running back after releasing C.J. Anderson in a cost-cutting move, and in Sutton they added the big playmaker their anemic offense has sorely lacked of late.
Sutton packs 218 pounds on his nearly 6-foot-4 frame, giving Case Keenum another big, physical red-zone target who “has No. 1” receiver traits, according to coach Vance Joseph.
Like Sanders, Sutton went to SMU, and over the years he sought his advice.
“It wasn’t an everyday thing but we would talk a few times about how I get to that level and how I continue to climb to be the best that I can be, even with that big fight against me coming from a smaller school,” Sutton said.
The versatile Sutton prides himself on garnering attention no matter where he lines up, but he’s admittedly still a work in progress and eager for mentoring by Thomas and Sanders.
“I am very new to the position. I am learning as I go,” Sutton said.
Recruited out of high school as a safety, Sutton was moved to wide receiver by former Mustangs head coach June Jones.
“I loved playing safety, but I feel like in my heart I was a true receiver,” Sutton said. “They played me at safety but Coach Jones saw that I had the ball skills and they needed some grit on that other side of the ball.”
After a medical redshirt in 2014, Sutton caught 194 passes for 3,193 yards and 31 touchdowns in three seasons at SMU.
The Broncos turned to offense on Day 2 after Bradley Chubb, the top-ranked defensive player in the draft, fell to them at No. 5 on Thursday night.
Elway insisted he was also surprised to see Sutton there at No. 40 on Friday.
“We feel very fortunate,” Elway said. “We had a first-round grade on him.”
Chubb, a defensive end at North Carolina State, will play outside linebacker in Denver, where the Broncos believe his dogged determination and relentless motor will help their defense return to dominance.
“That is really what we’re excited about because I think it’s contagious,” Elway said Friday.
“That motor came from always wanting to make plays,” Chubb said. “I always wanted to be around the ball. It was just something I was raised with. If I am going to do something, I am going to do it at 100 percent. That is my mindset every time I step on the field. I feel like I bring that to the pass-rush game.”