Courtland Sutton has put on a show for Denver as the WR1 this season and should be a key figure for the Broncos for years to come
The Denver Broncos’ passing attack hasn’t been quite as explosive as some have hoped, but that hasn’t stopped WR Courtland Sutton from taking that next step forward into superstar territory.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to call Courtland Sutton Denver’s offensive MVP this season. He’s been nothing short of spectacular for Denver this season, and with some better QB play, we’d be viewing him as a bonafide superstar receiver.
Courtland Sutton’s injury dampened some people’s expectations for his 2021 season, but he’s come back and looks better than ever. More importantly, his speed looks better than I expected.
Sutton has seven plays over 20+ MPH on the season, highlighted by a 21.07 MPH play against the Raiders. He’s been the team’s fastest ball carrier for Denver the last two weeks per Next Gen Stats. That speed hasn’t been quite utilized yet, but he’s getting open and he’s getting open deep!
Per PFF’s charting, Sutton ranks 1st in Total Air Yards this season at 1,086. First. He’s 86 total yards ahead of the NFL’s biggest speed-demon in Tyreek Hill. Air yards are defined as the amount of yards the ball traveled in the air on a passing play, from line of scrimmage to contact point. He’s 3rd in Team % of Intended Air Yards behind Brandin Cooks and Terry McLaurin at 42.26% and ranks just behind Emmanuel Sanders in Average Targeted Air Yards at 16.3. He’s proving to be an elite deep threat for the team. That production hasn’t quite shown up because of QB play and because of a rather lackluster passing scheme.
Wide receivers with over 200+ air yards on incompletions that were deemed to be the quarterback’s fault (PFF). Basically sheesh yards:
Marquise Brown (340)
Courtland Sutton (315)
D.J. Moore (290)
Davante Adams (243)
Robby Anderson (235)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 27, 2021
Sutton ranks 15th in Defensive-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR), ahead of some notable names like Justin Jefferson, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, Stefon Diggs, and DJ Moore. His 17th-ranked spot in Defensive-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) ranks ahead of Mike Evans, the aforementioned AJ Brown, Michael Pittman, Robert Woods, and Terry McLaurin.
His Yards per Game is at a career high at 72.4. Sutton’s catch percentage is at a career high, and he had just 4 drops compared to 114 receptions the last three years. He’s been targeted 62 times, which is 20 more times than Tim Patrick, who ranks 2nd among Denver’s wide receivers. Teams know the ball is going to Sutton often and he’s still been great. He’s drawn 27 first-downs this season, which matches some notable names such as Deandre Hopkins, Ja’Marr Chase, DK Metcalf, and Keenan Allen.
The best part is that it’s pretty evident Sutton is drawing attention from defenses and he’s still playing at this high of a level. He’s pulling coverage away from the other receivers, which is part of why Tim Patrick has been as effective as he has been. He’s lining up against team’s CB1s game in and game out. He’s winning at the line of scrimmage and downfield. Sutton has done a much better job fighting off press, but his size, speed, and hands make it almost moot.
It feels like a crime he’s not being utilized better, but that’s part of the reason why Denver needs to extend him long-term. Matching him with better quarterback play is a must moving forward given his dynamic big-play ability. Denver has had a long history of elite wide receiver play, from Demaryius Thomas to Brandon Marshall to Rod Smith. He’s already 18th in all-time receiving yards in Denver history despite missing a year with injury and never playing with an elite quarterback (or even average).
Pay the man and reap the rewards. He and Jerry Jeudy can give this team two elite dynamic weapons for years to come, and help lift this offense upwards moving forward.