By CHAD JENSEN
(247SPORTS) – With how dominant rookie wideout Courtland Sutton has been at training camp, ‘posterizing’ his defensive back teammates on the regular, Broncos Country has jumped head-first onto the hype train. Perhaps we should pump the brakes some, however.READ MORE: Coloradans Kim Dobson And Ashley Brasovan Take Top Spots In Mount Washington Road Race
Three-time All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. has been impressed with Sutton’s jump-ball ability, but he still sees a lot of room for improvement for the rookie second-rounder.
“He’s a good jump ball, 50-50 guy,” Harris said on Sunday. “He has to learn how to run all of the routes. In the NFL, you can’t just say, ‘I’m going to run a deep ball,’ and expect it to work 17 weeks. It’s not going to work in the NFL. He has to get comfortable running every route other then a fade.”
For what it’s worth, Sutton has pleasantly surprised onlookers with his route-running ability at camp, but Harris has a point. In order to really fly high with the best in the league, Sutton has to be a fully rounded receiver who can win in multiple ways. Unlike fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton, Sutton wasn’t regarded as a polished route runner coming out of SMU.
It takes time to hone that particular skill-set. Working with new Broncos WRs Coach Zach Azzanni could help flatten Sutton’s learning curve, but we can’t expect it to happen overnight.
However, through seven camp practices, Sutton has loudly displayed his ability to win contested passes. That’s a huge plus, and it’s likely gone a long way toward earning Case Keenum’s trust.READ MORE: Preventing Theft: Denver Police Etching VIN On Catalytic Converters
But Sutton can’t let the hype go to his head. He’d be wise to listen to his veteran teammate who’s gone against every type of wide receiver the NFL has to throw at him.
Harris wasn’t trying to throw shade at Sutton. Rather, he’s just pumping the brakes on the tsunami of hype that has swelled over the last week. Harris still tipped his cap to the rookie, comparing him to some of the best wideouts in the game, while tempering expectations some.
“Those 50-50 balls, he’s up there with [Texans WR DeAndre] Hopkins, who else has great 50-50 balls? [Former Cowboys WR] Dez Bryant, those guys,” Harris said. “He can get up and get them just like them or better. Seeing that right there is going to be a huge plus for us, but he’s going to have to run all of the routes. You can’t just make it easy. If I just know you’re going to run a fade every time, then it’s pretty easy for my job.”
Harris has a point. He knows what it’s like to go against the best route-runners in the league, like Antonio Brown, and come up short.
Route-running prowess is a deadly weapon to have in the arsenal. But the Broncos collection of cornerbacks still haven’t been able to stop Sutton on the fade route.
Sutton was relatively quiet during Denver’s Sunday scrimmage. But it’s important to note that for whatever reason, the coaches chose to emphasize the running game instead of throwing the ball around the yard.MORE NEWS: Colorado Weather: Landspout Tornadoes Hit Colorado Plains
With the biggest opportunity yet to hit coming during the scrimmage, the coaches likely wanted to see how the young running backs and offensive line held up against the increased physicality. It’ll be important to see whether Courtland Sutton converts his big-play ability to live-game action this coming Saturday when the Minnesota Vikings arrive for preseason Game 1.