The NFL season is inching closer to kickoff and the Denver Broncos are in full swing as training camp continues. All eyes will be on the Broncos offense this season, especially on third-year wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Building off of a strong sophomore season, we will take a deeper look into Sutton’s 2020 projection as he looks to make himself known as one of the league’s elite receivers. As quarterback Drew Lock continues to grow in his first full season in the NFL, Sutton will likely be one of his go-to targets in 2020.
Sutton is looking to cement himself not only among the AFC West’s elite receivers that include players like Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs and Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers but he’s trying to emerge as one of the NFL’s elite pass-catchers across the league.
Looking back at Sutton in 2019
When Sutton was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, he had plenty of draft enthusiasts marking him as a first-round talent but was still considered a raw receiver at that point. Denver had the idea of Sutton eventually replacing longtime Bronco Demaryius Thomas, which he wound up doing halfway through his rookie season after Thomas was traded to the Houston Texans. Sutton showed flashes of his talent as a rookie, but it was clear he could still use steady improvements to his route running to eventually become the complete receiver they were looking for.
Sutton had a breakout season in 2019
The 2019 season was a breakout year for Sutton, as many had expected he would finally click with more experience under his belt. While Sutton didn’t total 100+ receptions in his second season, he was still one of the more effective receivers in the NFL, accounting for 1,112 receiving yards on 72 receptions.
After becoming the Broncos’ main target in 2019 after the team traded veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers, Sutton saw his target share increase exponentially, even after playing with three different quarterbacks during the course of the season. Joe Flacco made Sutton a favorite target early on, looking his way no less than six times throughout his eight games with Denver in 2019.
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When Lock became the starting quarterback in Week 13, it was easy to see that Sutton would have incredible chemistry with the Broncos’ young gunslinger. Lock connected with Sutton for the first passing touchdown of his NFL career on a tough catch against Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward. With Lock being the presumed starter for this season, it will help get a more clear look at Sutton’s 2020 projection.
Will Sutton continue to rise the ranks in 2020?
With Sutton coming off a huge second year in the NFL and being named a Pro Bowl alternate, he could be laying the foundation for his fast track to NFL stardom. As Lock continues to grow and new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur takes command of this offense, Sutton’s role will likely continue to increase into his third year.
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After a year where his offensive share metric (OSM) had him ranked as the 67th most valuable wide receiver in the NFL with a score of 30.68, Sutton has an opportunity to prove his worth in this new offensive scheme.
How the new offensive scheme benefits Sutton in 2020
Shifting from the offensive scheme of Rich Scangarello to that of Shurmur’s will likely mean that Sutton’s targets stay around 125. With quicker concepts in the passing game, this means putting the ball in Sutton’s hands and letting him work in the open field to accumulate more yards after the catch could occur more often than in previous seasons.
We could see Sutton around 90 catches and over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. However, with Jerry Jeudy likely to command more one-on-one opportunities, it could be possible that Sutton’s target share drops slightly. This means Sutton will have to make the most out of every target and continue to dominate with the ball in his hands.
Sutton greatly improved on limiting his dropped passes in his second year, decreasing his drop percentage from just over 7% down to 4% in 2019. I expect Sutton to continue to grow in that area and secure the majority of targets that come his way, especially given the relationship between him and Lock that has been building since last season. Improving on limiting the drops, along with improving his route running, helped Sutton greatly in making his significant second-year jump.
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Given the new offensive scheme, his relationship with Lock, and his continuing growth as a receiver in the NFL, I predict that Sutton will have another Pro Bowl season in 2020, but will need to see the same amount of targets as he did in 2019 in order to have a truly dominant season. Expect Sutton in 2020 to have between 80 to 90 receptions, over 1,000 receiving yards, and between eight to 10 receiving touchdowns. Who knows, maybe Sutton even mixes in a passing touchdown in 2020, so make sure you keep an eye on Sutton for your fantasy football roster.