NFL News & Analysis

Doug Kyed's Mailbag: How the Denver Broncos replace Tim Patrick, whether Trey Lance is a short-term upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers and more

Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) looks to throw a pass against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the unfortunate consequences of training camp practices is injuries. The Denver Broncos were hit hardest this week when wide receiver Tim Patrick tore his ACL.

In this week’s mailbag, we’ll answer questions about how the Broncos will replace Patrick, whether Trey Lance is a short-term upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo, and how the New England Patriots’ wide receiver corps will shake out.

Keep reading for this week’s mailbag:

@cardiaccard22: Are the 49ers better with Lance?

The San Francisco 49ers definitely believe they will eventually be better with Lance as their quarterback. However, short term, they understand that Lance will likely have some growing pains as a rookie. The way that’s been expressed to me is that Lance will lack consistency from game to game.

And that’s understandable, as Lance hasn’t played a full season since 2019, when he was on the field for 949 snaps for the North Dakota State Bisons. Outside of those 949 snaps he played in 2019, Lance has only been on the field for 280 total snaps since 2018.

Nonetheless, the 49ers understood that when they drafted him third overall last year, which is why he sat behind Garoppolo for a year. It’s entirely possible that the 49ers would have a better record with Garoppolo at quarterback this season than they’ll have with Lance. The 49ers won 10 games last season, and Their over-under this season is 9.5 wins. However, Lance has to play eventually, and the reps he receives this season will help him improve for the future.

The 49ers believe Lance can be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but they’re entering this season with a degree of uncertainty about how he’ll play.

@SlightSuperior: With the injury of Tim Patrick, do you think the Broncos need to target a player like OBJ, or do they have the depth at WR and talent at TE to cover?

PFF’s own Brad Spielberger brought up an interesting name on “PFF at Night” on Wednesday: Antonio Brown.

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson lobbied the Seattle Seahawks to sign Brown for two straight seasons, and they never acquiesced. Brown is insistent that he won’t play football this season, but he’s also not the most reliable narrator.

Does it seem likely that Brown will sign with the Broncos or any other team? No. But Denver suddenly could use another wide receiver, and Wilson has been supportive of Brown in the past.

I do believe the Broncos will be just fine with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler at wide receiver. Albert Okwuegbunam and Greg Dulcich at tight end alongside Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon at running back aren't bad either. Rookie wideout Montrell Washington has also come on strong in training camp. Before Patrick tore his ACL, I thought Denver might have had the NFL's deepest group of skill-position players. They’re not quite on that level now, but it’s still a good set of targets for Wilson.

@alexbako: Which rookie RB and WR are you targeting in fantasy drafts?

Well, I have the following wide receivers and running backs in my dynasty leagues:

So, that’s who I wound up with after the 2022 NFL Draft.

Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce could certainly wind up being a steal if he can win that starting job, and New York Jets running back Breece Hall (No. 41) is PFF's top rookie in its PPR fantasy rankings. Drake London (No. 70) and Treylon Burks (No. 82) have the easiest paths to a large chunk of targets in their respective offenses.

I like Tolbert a lot, though. It certainly seems like he’ll have an opportunity early in the season until Michael Gallup and James Washington return.

@ashley1992__: Hi Doug,  Do Meyers, Agholor and Nixon all make the Pats roster?

Wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor will almost certainly make the Patriots’ roster unless something completely unforeseen happens. Tre Nixon will need to have a strong preseason and be able to contribute on special teams to carve out a role and make the team.

Meyers has been a consistent presence at camp, as he always is, and the Patriots are high on Agholor after they feel like he made a jump this offseason thanks, in part, to some schematic changes in the offense. By the way, they feel the same way about Jonnu Smith. The Agholor and Smith free-agent signings seemed like mistakes after the 2021 season, but New England is very optimistic about both players this summer.

It’s just more difficult for Nixon to make the team with Meyers, Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton ahead of him on the depth chart. Ty Montgomery has also been heavily involved in the offense with James White on the PUP list and can play running back or wide receiver. Kristian Wilkerson is still in the mix, as well. It’s a deep group of running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in New England, and even people within the organization don’t know at this point how snaps will be divvied up.

@lukemo_bets: Does Mason Rudolph actually have a realistic chance to be the Week 1 starter?

I think it would be a disappointment if Mason Rudolph winds up being a better option for the Pittsburgh Steelers than Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, especially after what the team invested in the position this offseason.

@27benji: What are the Giants gonna do with DJ?

They have to see how he looks in Brian Daboll’s offense before they know what to do with him. The New York Giants didn’t pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option and have a few options next offseason. They can use the franchise tag on him, extend him or let him walk in free agency and find a new quarterback.

There’s no way of knowing what the Giants will do with Jones until we actually see how he looks this season.


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