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Broncos Mailbag: KJ Hamler or Tim Patrick as the third receiver when season opens?

Broncos Mailbag: KJ Hamler or Tim Patrick as the third
receiver when season opens? 1

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.

Do you think Randy Gradishar will ever get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Just look at his stats: Ten seasons, 145 games, 20 interceptions, four touchdowns, seven Pro Bowls and 2,000-plus tackles. To put his career in perspective, Ray Lewis played 17 seasons and had 2,061 tackles. Lewis had seven more seasons and only got 12 more tackles. There are nine other linebackers in the Hall of Fame who have similar credentials as Gradishar. Where’s the love?

— Dan, Franklin, Mass.

When Gradishar didn’t make the Centennial Class of 2020, which included 10 senior-age players, it felt like a big blow to his eventual chance.

The nominees from the coach, contributor and senior categories are voted on for election independent of the modern-era classes so it’s not as if Gradishar is being denied from recently-retired players. A senior nominee must receive 80% approval from the selection committee.

Ryan, I know it’s early and the preseason doesn’t mean much, but did it look like we found our starting quarterback and running back for the new season? Drew Lock and Javonte Williams balled out against the Vikings. What do you think?

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— Mike Phillips, Colorado Springs

I won’t go that far because Lock and Williams took advantage of playing with some starters against Minnesota’s second-team defense. That said, Lock semi-changed the narrative that the Week 1 starting job was Teddy Bridgewater’s to lose. Williams may start the season as the No. 1A or 2 to Melvin Gordon, but if he runs like he did in last week’s first quarter, he’ll be receiving starter-level opportunities quickly.

Drew Lock looked good. Teddy Bridgewater looked good. Who has the edge right now in the quarterback race?

— Dan M., Louisville

I’m not in the business of declaring a daily winner in Quarterback Competition 2021 because there are so many variables that are unknown.

That said, I felt Bridgewater had the lead entering the Minnesota game. But since Lock got the first start of the preseason and did well, he should have an edge. Next up is Bridgewater to see if he can meet Lock’s production.

KJ Hamler had a nice touchdown on Saturday. How big is his role going to be this season? I still have Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick in front of him on the depth chart. Thanks.

— Marshall, Parker

I see Hamler right now as the No. 3 behind Sutton and Jeudy. Patrick has been slowed by a groin injury, allowing Hamler first-team snaps and he cashed in with an 80-yard touchdown against Minnesota.

There will be targets for all four receivers to divide, but the Broncos should be excited about Hamler’s health (so far, so good) and production (good) in training camp so far.

What do you think of Trinity Benson’s chances of making the 53-man roster? He caught two touchdowns and returned a kick. Sure, it’s preseason, but those are some nice numbers.

— Eric, Los Angeles

If the Broncos keep six receivers, the top of the depth chart is Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler and Patrick. The key will be Diontae Spencer. If the team believes they need a return specialist, Spencer will stick. That would leave one spot for the group among Tyrie Cleveland, Seth Williams, Trinity Benson, Kendall Hinton, etc. Benson has stood out the most throughout camp, but he must have the team’s confidence to play special teams to make the initial 53-man roster.

Ryan, every year we have an undrafted free agent make the roster. Who’s got the best shot to play for the Broncos this year?

— Ryan K., Denver

This could the year for that streak to be snapped. Fullback Adam Prentice played 21 snaps against Minnesota and appears to getting more backfield snaps than tight end/fullback Andrew Beck. That’s not to say Prentice, who has the best shot of the undrafted rookies, would push Beck out, but if the Broncos want a true fullback for short-yardage/goal-line situations, Prentice could stick.

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.

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