Denver Broncos: Why Jerry Jeudy could breakthrough in 2021

After a frustrating rookie season, Jerry Jeudy is set to emerge as an elite receiver for the Denver Broncos in 2021. 

It wasn’t long ago that Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was regarded as the top receiver in the 2020 draft class, ahead of CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson. He put together an illustrious college career that included winning the 2018 Bilintekoff award given to the nation’s top wide receiver.

Given Alabama’s recent success with receivers in the NFL, Jeudy developed the reputation as one of the best prospects in the entire draft and was taken by the Denver Broncos 15th overall. A lot has changed since the first night of the 2020 draft, but Jeudy’s star potential has not.

Although inconsistent quarterback play and drop problems lingered throughout, Jeudy put up a solid stat line of 52 receptions, for 856 yards and 3 TDs as a rookie. Jeudy’s numbers stacked up pretty well when compared to previous first-round picks’ first seasons, but the flashes of positives were largely overshadowed by the missed opportunities.

It’s easy to point out that Drew Lock was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL last season. He led the league in interceptions and only completed 57.3% of his passes. While Lock certainly didn’t do his receivers many favors, it wasn’t the only thing that held Jeudy back. He was second in the league in dropped passes with 12.

This stat may appear concerning, but it isn’t too out of the ordinary for receivers to have drop problems early in their careers. Adjusting to the NFL can be difficult, and some players make smoother transitions than others. Jeudy was never plagued by his drops in college, so it’s hard to envision this being a big problem in the future.

Denver Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy poised to breakthrough

Additionally, another year in Pat Shurmur’s system should help give Jeudy a more defined role in the offense. A season-ending injury to Courtland Sutton caused Jeudy’s role to change on the fly.  He was forced into the top receiver spot, and it may have been too much too soon.

It’s worth noting that playing at Alabama can sometimes make for a more difficult transition to the NFL. Jeudy played alongside first-round picks, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith in college. He was used to having other elite weapons to take pressure off of him.

It’s understandable that making the transition from playing with one of the best receiver groups in college football history to playing with a team whose second-leading receiver was Tim Patrick could be a challenge.

With a full season of NFL experience under his belt. Jeudy should be much more acclimated to the Denver offense in 2021. Even if Drew Lock continues to struggle, Jeudy’s elite route running and ability after the catch is a perfect fit for Pat Shurmur’s West Coast offense.

Jerry Jeudy’s 2020 season may have had its share of ups and downs, but his upside is well worth the wait.