In his two years in the league Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton has gone from a solid prospect to an NFL star. When the Broncos traded Emmanuel Sanders last season, they needed Sutton to step up and take on a bigger role. He did that and more by having a career year and being one of the only reliable options for whoever was under center. All that earned him his first Pro Bowl appearance and placed him in more of a national spotlight. Now that the eyes of the NFL are on him is it possible for him to take the next step and become a top 10 receiver?
Competition and Challenges
Even with solid stats last season it wasn’t enough to get Sutton in the conversation. Pro Football Network has Sutton ranked at 19 for his 2019 performance. Last year he caught 72 passes for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. This is even more impressive because Sutton wasn’t even the number one receiving option till Emmanuel Sanders was traded in week 7. The Broncos also started three quarterbacks over the course of the season so there was no consistency for Sutton. Only three of the 18 players ranked ahead of him had more than one. Sutton finishing in the top 20 with all of those factors holding him back shows his true potential.
Next season is a different story though. None of the receivers ranked above Sutton are showing any signs of slowing down, but that’ll be the least of his challenges. On the bright side, Drew Lock seems to be the future at quarterback ending the revolving door at that position. The biggest factor holding Sutton back is that he’s not the only reliable option anymore. After Jerry Jeudy and Kj Hamler were added to the roster through the draft the Broncos now have three potential star wide receivers. Not only are Jeudy and Hamler good receivers but they’re rookies as well. The coaches will certainly get them receptions to help them fit in with the offense.
Sutton will most likely see fewer catches than last season but he could still have a high yards total. He is one of the most talented players in the league at getting yards after the catch. Sutton often found himself having to make something out of nothing because of poor offensive execution.
Most of the receivers in contention will be playing in pass-first offenses where they’ll get high numbers of targets. Sutton will have to play in a balanced offense with lower targets than last year making a top 10 receiver push extremely difficult.
To make matters worse the Broncos have the ninth hardest schedule fo receivers in the NFL. He’ll have to face corners like Stephon Gilmore, Byron Jones, Marshon Lattimore and Tre’davious White. Sutton won’t be able to pick up easy yards against low-tier secondary corners. His Pro Bowl season last year will make him a target to shutdown. The Broncos schedule is more fit to play a run-heavy offense which they shouldn’t have much trouble doing. This will no doubt take more opportunities away from Sutton.
As expected Sutton’s odds to be a top 10 receiver is a long shot but not impossible. He’s the lone Broncos player listed in the offensive player of the year betting at 100 to 1 odds. Making the list is always a good sign no matter how hard the odds are. It makes it even easier considering that isn’t the goal. There aren’t any places to find odds on top receivers but if there were, Sutton would surely be in the top 30 putting him in striking distance of being a top 10 receiver in the 2020-2021 season. Crazier things have certainly happened in sports.
So it certainly feels like all of the odds are against him this year. A tough schedule, target sharing, a second year quarterback and even a new system. So it’s definitely not an easy task by any means but by no means is it impossible.