While at the Senior Bowl, Mile High Huddle heard that tight end Julius Thomas has priced himself out of the Denver Broncos free agent plans and that they have resigned themselves to that fact. They now are focused on finding his potential replacement.
It is rather unsurprising that Thomas has priced himself out of the Broncos plans. With 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons, it makes a lot of sense that he would warrant a high price. However, Thomas’ game is one-dimensional, due to his inability to block. With the team's coaching change, and the subsequent arrival of Gary Kubiak, Thomas’ blocking deficiencies become even more glaring.
In Kubiak's offense, the tight ends have to be proficient blockers, as well as capable receivers. Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen are perfect examples.
They are not always the best blockers, but they get the job done. This shift in the offensive scheme leads to someone like Virgil Green possibly snaring a larger role. Green has proven that he can be a dominant blocker and showed enough as a receiver, in limited action, to warrant a larger role.
To go along with the reports from the Senior Bowl, MHH’s Chad Jensen pointed out a couple tight ends that the Broncos may look upon as potential Thomas replacements. Among those tight ends are the Miami Hurricanes Clive Walford and Auburn's C.J. Uzomah.
Walford is an athletic receiving tight end who struggles as a blocker. He tries to do well, but lacks the technique to be an exceptional blocker. Pro coaching could improve that, however.
Uzomah is incredibly similar. He is a big-bodied, athletic receiving tight end, who also struggles as a blocker. His lack of effectiveness as a blocker stems from a lack of technique and lack of general scheme knowledge.
Both players could improve by being coached up at the NFL level and they're both set to play in the Senior Bowl, which will be a good test of their ability.
Beyond Walford and Uzomah, there are some other tight ends that the Broncos could potentially look at. Among them are Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams, Delaware's Nick Boyle, Florida State's Nick O’Leary and Notre Dame's Ben Koyack. Koyack and Boyle are the only two among this group at the Senior Bowl today.
All of these tight ends are big, athletic players -- most being receiving tight ends, with the potential to be effective blockers. Koyack and Boyle are more in the mold of blocking tight ends, with the potential in place to grow as a receiver. All of these players are fits, to some extent, in the offense Kubiak is likely to install.
With a good amount of potential replacements for Thomas in the draft, it is unsurprising that the Broncos are getting ready to part ways. Coupling Thomas’ inability as a blocker and the price tag that comes with him, it's a smart move for the Broncos to head in a new direction. They can find a cheaper option, who can be coached up as a blocker and be a better fit for Kubiak’s offense.