Rich Kolbell

Denver Broncos 2016 Rookie Preview: Bralon Addison, WR

Our Rookie Preview series evaluates this year's crop of young Broncos and their chances of making the roster. Next up, Oregon wide receiver Bralon Addison.

Bralon Addison, WR

CollegeOregon Ducks

Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 190 Age: 22

40-yard: 4.66 Bench Press. 13 reps (225 lbs)

If you've watched any Pac-12 football in the last couple of years, you would have likely noticed that the University of Oregon always seems to have two things in abundance: speed and athleticism. Bralon Addison is poised to be among of the next crop of Ducks to come out of the program and on to NFL success.

Joining the Denver Broncos as a college free agent, Addison is looking to make the team as its primary punt and kick returner.

Addison was an All-State selection at quarterback in high school before choosing to attend Oregon, where he was switched to wide receiver. In his freshman season, he showed plenty of promise as he finished fifth on the team with 22 receptions.

He would follow that up with a solid sophomore season that would see him earn an honorable-mention Pac-12 selection and start 11-of-13 games for the Ducks. Seemingly on his way to a highly productive career in Eugene, Addison's career trajectory would take a detour when he suffered a torn ACL in Oregon's annual spring game that would keep him out of the action for his entire junior season. However, undeterred, Addison would come back to make his senior season as impactful as possible. 

He finished his senior year as the Ducks’ leading receiver and tie for fourth in the Pac-12 with 10 touchdown grabs. Ending the year with 63 catches for 804 yards, Addison earned Pac-12 Second Team honors. Where he really stood out was as a punt returner. He had an 81-yard return that would nab him a Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week award. 

With Denver's depth at both wideout spots—led by Pro Bowlers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas—making the team strictly on Addison's merits as a pass-catcher would be an unreasonable expectation. Now, what he can do with the football in his hand on a punt return is different altogether and will be his best shot in sticking with the club.

In his time at Oregon, Addison took three punts back for scores and averaged a healthy 12.6 yards per return for his senior year.


A closer look at Bralon Addison gives the impression of him being a stockier Wes Welker. The comparisons are definitely there, as both players came from pass-happy collegiate offenses and both are more quick, water-bug type players than other returners who may take a long time to build up top-end speed.

I hearken back to a game against Miami several years ago when Denver had trouble containing a little known undrafted rookie wideout on punt and kick coverages. That returner was one Wesley Welker. 


Like many former Oregon players, Addison seems to struggle with fitting into a neat and tidy position box. At 5-foot-9, he is undersized and just a tick under 200 pounds—at 190. His physical stature would necessitate the need to put him in the slot, as he would be enveloped by bigger and stronger corners out wide.

What also works against Addison is that he isn’t the most polished receiver in the league, and his ability to run routes is a bit limited, due to the type of offense he played in at Oregon.

Roster Prospects

Addison’s best bet—and probably only bet—to make the team is be the main guy on punt returns. Last year, Denver had a few players handling punts, most notably Jordan Norwood and Emmanuel Sanders, and even safety Shiloh Keo late in the year. None of them showed much ability to get downhill and flip field position—with the exception of Norwood's 61-yarder in the Super Bowl—setting a new record.

It could even be argued that if Addison shows to be the most sure-handed and reliable option on the field, it would be enough to win Gary Kubiak’s trust, as Denver's head coach seemed to insert players based on game situations, rather than having one reliable option out there fielding punts. Based on athletic ability alone, Addison would make a lot of NFL rosters. However, because 53 roster spots really puts a premium on multiple players doing a variety of jobs, it’s hard to ascertain whether Addison will be in Denver past training camp.

This is what really hurts Addison's prospects in making the team. He’s not going to supplant Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas and isn’t as good of a receiver as any of the other more polished players like Cody LatimerBennie FowlerJordan Taylor or the previously mentioned Jordan Norwood. 

Conversely, he would fill a need on the team that sorely lacked dependable options last year. Addison is a potential game-breaker on a special teams that, as of last year, didn’t have anyone who was a threat to handle the ball cleanly, much less take one back for a touchdown or a big gain.

With the skill-set that Addison brings to the table, he could be an added weapon that could give the Denver offense shorter fields to work with and give opposing punters something extra to consider when kicking the ball down field.

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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