By Rich Kurtzman

Joel Dreessen, TE #81
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 260
Age: 30
Hometown: Ida Grove, Iowa
College: Colorado State University
Experience: 7 years

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(Credit, Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Growing up in Fort Morgan, Colorado—a small town on the plains—offered Joel Dreessen much time to play football in the backyard with friends and watch the Denver Broncos play on Sundays. He played for Fort Morgan High School, winning a 3A State Championship his junior season while also making the Colorado all-state football team that same season.

He stayed in-state, when then-Colorado State University head coach Sonny Lubick offered the big tight end with good hands a spot on the team, and Dreessen went from Fort Morgan to Fort Collins. As a CSU Ram, he thrived from 2000-2004. After redshirting his first year, Dreessen gradually grew as a tight end with Colorado State, catching 43 passes for 427 yards and three touchdowns in 2004, his senior season. He was heralded as an athletic player, able to out-run linebackers and safeties alike and quickly make moves around them. He could catch footballs that were not on-target, adjusting to them by jumping in the air over defenders or adjusting his body to make difficult grabs.

All those skills translated in the NFL, where’s he’s only improved even more over his seven professional seasons.

The 6’4” 240-pounder was taken by the New York Jets in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and after a rather illustrious year there, he moved onto Houston for five seasons. With the Texans, he consistently found himself behind Owen Daniels as the team’s second string tight end, but he fought and developed steadily. He went from four receptions to career-highs of 36 for 518 yards in 2010, while his six touchdowns last year were the most Dreessen has ever scored.

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With 17 receptions and three TDs scored already this season in the Broncos’ orange and blue, he’s on a pace to shatter career-bests in those categories. He’s scored in three of the last four games, becoming Peyton Manning’s top tight end target over former and current teammate Jacob Tamme in the red zone.

Now, Dreessen’s making Coloradans proud, from Fort Morgan to Fort Collins to Denver and everywhere in between, as he and the Broncos lead the AFC West and have done so by relying on an awesome offense. The team averages 28.3 points per game, while beating the Chargers, Raiders and Steelers all by at least 11 points. Manning has been utilizing his tight ends and attacking the field much more as of late, especially with Dreessen, and it’s something they’ll have to continue to do to compete with the top teams in the league. The high-flying offenses that can exploit the slower players in the middle of the gridiron win more often than those that cannot, Manning and Dreessen both understand that.

It means the hometown star will be even more involved in the offense and who knows, he could even become a Broncos hero.

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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on