Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas; Which Wide Receiver Is Most Valuable To Denver?

Adam Uribes examines the strengths and weaknesses of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, respectively, to determine which Pro Bowl receiver is the most valuable to the Broncos.

Debating sports is a great way to kill time — you can carry on for hours and still not come to a right answer. While either seeing the action live in the stadium or watching a game with friends at home, one of the best ways to start a conversation is to offer up the following query.

Which player would you rather start a team with? 

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... The Denver Broncos have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Despite inconsistencies at the quarterback position for the past two seasons, both Thomas and Sanders still managed to secure 1,000-yard production in both years, with each man accepting invitations to this year’s Pro Bowl.

So, the question I pose to Broncos Country is this. If you had to pick just one, who would you rather have as the No. 1 receiver on your team? Whatever side you pick, here are some compelling arguments for both players.

The Case For Demaryius Thomas


There is no denying that Thomas is a specimen on the field. Looking more the part of a tight end than a wideout, Thomas blends that size with the acceleration and speed of a smaller man. Outside of Julio Jones in Atlanta or Dez Bryant in Dallas, when Thomas is able to put it all together there isn’t a more physically gifted player than him.

No disrespect to Sanders, but Thomas has the pure physical makeup to be a matchup nightmare for just about any corner in the league. Put a bigger defender on him and Thomas still has the finesse and route running ability to get separation downfield. Decide to go with a smaller, quicker defensive back and Thomas is able to use his size and strength to win the matchup.

Thomas manages to get lost in the conversation of elite wideouts, mostly due to the fact that he doesn’t have the brashness of his contemporaries, or an elite quarterback feeding him the ball. In absence of that bravado, Thomas makes up for it in his ability to take over a game.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1749713-lynch-sends-clear-message... Looking back at some of his best moments as a Bronco, Thomas' game against Baltimore to open the 2013 season, as well as his performance against the Cardinals in 2014, stand out and speak to the caliber of play Thomas is capable of.

With those praises, though, come the criticism of the big pass-catcher, as well. Many fans get irritated that for as imposing as Thomas is, he doesn’t always play up to that standard and tends to shrink away from some corners — like a Logan Ryan of the Patriots, who can get equally physical with him. Last season, dropped passes and injuries drew the ire of the Denver faithful for much of the season.

Whether or not you’re on the Thomas bandwagon, he has proved to be one of the best ever to wear orange and blue and is among the leaders in the franchise record books for catches, yardage and touchdowns. 

The Case For Emmanuel Sanders


After the departure of Eric Decker following the 2013 season, GM John Elway set his sights on free-agent Brandon LaFell to fill his spot opposite of Thomas. Famously, LaFell decided that New England would be a better landing spot for him, leaving Denver to turn its attention to a talented, but injury prone wideout from Pittsburgh. The rest, as they say, is history.

Finally playing up to his substantial potential, Emmanuel Sanders has gone on to become one of the most charismatic and colorful players to suit up for the Broncos. If Thomas is the No. 1 receiver in Denver, Sanders has to be classified as 1A.

Only measuring 5-foot-11 and coming in at 180 pounds, Sanders plays with a fearlessness of a much bigger player. With a penchant for laying out to make the highlight reel catch, or by making the tough grab over the middle, Sanders has proved to be everything the Broncos hoped for and more since arriving as free-agent.

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A major reason why Sanders has endeared himself to so many during his time in the Mile High City is his willingness to play through some of the nagging injuries he sustains from his reckless abandon on the field. Whether it be an ankle or shoulder issues, Sanders consistently pushes past the pain to play on game day.

Not without his faults, Sanders is just below the marquee players at his position — mostly due to his size and physical limitations. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a very good player, which Sanders is. But keeping that in mind, he is just a shade below the very best in the league.

The former Steeler also rubbed some fans the wrong way with his comments about lack of touches in the passing game early in the 2016 season. Gutsy players who lay it all out on the line are always fan favorites, however, and Sanders is no exception. He is incredibly easy to root for and his style of play makes him one of the most dynamic receivers in team history.

And The Winner Is...

You can’t go wrong being a fan of either player. Thomas looks the part of an elite receiver and has the resume to support that — being a two-time All-Pro selection, along with being a five-time Pro Bowler. Sanders is the scrappy competitor that the average Joe loves, and in his own right, finds a way to make the splash play when the team needs it the most.

Whether or not you chose to have a number 88 or 10 on the back of your jersey, both players have made their marks for the Super Bowl 50 champions. It’s a great problem to have, when two of the very best in the league are suiting up for your Denver Broncos. 

The question as to which player you'd rather have is fun to spit-ball with friends and family. For my money, it's Demaryius Thomas because he has physical attributes you can't coach. But each has his respective strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the day, Broncos fans will gladly take them both. 

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

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