ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy has lit up the team's training camp thus far, and his defensive teammates think it's just the beginning. In fact, it could just be a sliver of what's to come.
"He can get in and out of his breaks better than anyone I've ever seen before," said Broncos safety Kareem Jackson, now in his 11th NFL season. "For him to be rookie, his tempo and his routes -- the way he can change pace and the way he sells things is very rare. It's going to be a challenge for opposing defenses and guys in the secondary. For us, getting a chance to see him every day is going to help us."
Jeudy, who was the Broncos' first-round pick (15th overall) in this past April's draft, was considered by many personnel executives to be the best route runner and most versatile wideout in a deep class of wide receivers. And while no one is chiseling his work in the first few weeks of August into tablets, he has gotten the attention of some of the toughest critics of rookies -- veterans.
Each day of practice Jeudy has made a catch in traffic or made some subtle, some not-so-subtle, moves with his footwork or body language to create some separation or simply just run by a defender.
"When I watch Jerry Jeudy, he kind of reminds me a lot of [Dallas Cowboys wide receiver] Amari Cooper in Oakland with how he's running his routes, especially when guys are playing off," said Broncos cornerback A.J. Bouye, now in his eighth season in the league. "Like I've said -- the stems that he showed, leverage and how he attacks everything -- he gets your feet to stop and that's when it's over. I like seeing things like that."
High praise given Cooper has four 1,000-yard seasons in his five seasons and Jeudy is roughly a month away from his first regular-season game.
While the Broncos did not have any on-field work this offseason due to COVID-19 restrictions around the league, Jeudy's workouts became must-see TV on social media and he arrived to training camp ready to go. He has received regular snaps with the starting offense, alongside Courtland Sutton, and has consistently made plays in a variety of short, intermediate and deep routes -- even against the team's defensive starters.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said Jeudy is working at each of the receiver spots in the offense to "find the best spot for him, not only for him individually, but for us as a unit -- what's our best combination." Quarterback Drew Lock has looked for Jeudy in situations where rookie receivers don't often get the first look, like in red zone drills, where it's more crowded and the defensive backs do all they can to alter the routes in tight spaces.
"We'll say Jerry is pretty good," Lock said with a laugh after practice this past week. "We'll put it that way. I'm not putting anything out there and establishing expectations for that young man to hold up because I know if someone would have said that I was the best thrower they've ever seen last year, I would have gone into games with a little bit of added pressure. [But] Jerry has been great. I think the best thing that I've seen out of Jerry is how hard he comes out and works every day and just how on top of it he is -- no questions asked."
Jeudy was a key piece of the Broncos' makeover on offense this offseason, and when the Broncos took KJ Hamler with their second-round pick, it was the first time the franchise used its first two draft selections on wide receivers.
Still, it's not often rookie receivers find success. Just three rookie wide receivers have finished with more than 40 receptions in their first seasons with the Broncos and just one since 2008 -- Sutton with his 42 catches in 2018. But Jeudy, according to his teammates, doesn't look like the usual rookie receiver.
"[Jeudy] never gives you the same look every time and I'm loving going against him," Bouye said. "He's going to keep me true to my technique."
"Jeudy has come in and is making people miss," Broncos linebacker Todd Davis said. "[He's] making a lot of spectacular catches."