Since the Denver Broncos orchestrated a trade to move up and select him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Cody Latimer has been biding his time, waiting for his big opportunity. In the pre-draft process, Latimer’s stock skyrocketed at the 11th hour, pitting him against a famous crop of would-be NFL wide receivers, like Odell Beckham, Jr., Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, and Mike Evans.
John Elway and the Broncos were high on Latimer. The one thing that set Latimer apart, was his blocking acumen. He was a vicious, unafraid blocker, and that willingness, that physicality made him a priority target in the mind of the Broncos.
Elway knew Latimer possessed the goods in the receiving department. That was evident from his prolific stats as a junior at Indiana. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Latimer was well-versed at using his physicality and frame to create separation vs. out-matched defensive backs.
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And he was strong, as his 23 reps on the bench press (225lbs) at the Combine revealed, which separated him as a top performer among all receivers in Indianapolis. He possessed great hands, an impressive catch radius and the ‘my ball’ mentality. Also, he was no slouch with the ball in his hands.
The Broncos inherited a phenomenal foundation when they drafted Latimer. But as a rookie, Latimer was not as involved in the offense has he and the fans hoped he would be. Between John Fox’s reticence to play rookies, and being buried behind a prolific receiver depth chart, Latimer only appeared in eight games as a rookie, totaling just two receptions for 23 yards.
The Broncos had an embarrassment of riches at the position, with Demaryius Thomas (Pro Bowl), Emmanuel Sanders (Pro Bowl) and Wes Welker (former Pro Bowler). There were only so many snaps to go around. But what infuriated fans, and likely miffed Elway, was seeing Andre Caldwell get five times the amount of regular season snaps than Latimer did.
At this stage, it’s all water under the bridge. Latimer has a year with the organization under his belt and a strong rapport with future franchise QB hopeful Brock Osweiler. But what about his chemistry with Peyton Manning?
Latimer attended Manning’s famous Duke University workouts this past spring and with Demaryius Thomas’ holdout during all offseason training activities, Latimer ran with Manning and the first-team offense. That additional time with Manning will pay dividends for the second-year pro this season.
Broncos fans got to see a preview of the future with Cody Latimer last season, when the Broncos took on the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason last summer. Watch in the GIF below as Latimer blows by his man (who gave Latimer a huge cushion), to haul in the a 33-yard touchdown pass from Osweiler.
In the last week of the regular season, the Broncos were at home vs. the Oakland Raiders. Latimer saw some snaps late in the game. In the GIF below, watch him haul in a pass that was thrown behind him by Manning, to secure a first down for his team.
Showing great hands and great effort, Latimer bailed out his future Hall of Fame QB, knowing he was going to take a big hit and moved the chains. His athleticism is off the charts. He just needs playing time.
Cody Latimer is on the brink of exploding on the NFL. In Gary Kubiak’s system, the concern is that even as the No. 3 wide receiver, there won’t be a whole lot of snaps for Latimer to ply his trade. People forget, the system the Broncos implement in 2015 will be a blend of the Manning offense and Kubiak’s scheme.
That means that we can likely expect a lot more three-WR sets than Kubiak has traditionally deployed. It will allow Sanders to slip down into the slot, where he can utilize his quickness and ability to find the soft spot in the zone. And Latimer can line up on the outside, where he can use his frame and physicality to make plays on the boundary—especially in the redzone.
Don’t forget—Kubiak wants to run the ball and run the ball the Broncos shall. The coaches will want to take advantage of Latimer’s willingness and ability as a blocker, which should lead to even more opportunities for snaps.
In the few months Kubiak has been in Denver, he’s had nothing but good things to say about Latimer and on more than one occasion, he’s told us that he expects big things from the second-year wideout. Don’t sleep on Cody Latimer.