- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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On the Denver Broncos' pre-draft list of wants and needs, they could still use some help at wide receiver. The help they’ve already signed this offseason at wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, also happens to be the team's top returner.
But the Broncos would like Sanders to surpass his career-best of 67 catches when he gets to work in their offense, so having him also return kickoffs and punts is not ideal. Once in a while, sure, but the Broncos aren't looking to put Sanders on the receiving end of punts and kickoffs unless they have to because they have big plans for him in the offense.
And there are plenty of front-line receivers in this draft with serious return skills -- most notably players such as LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks -- but down the board is an intriguing player worth a long look by the Broncos.
North Texas wide receiver Brelan Chancellor wasn’t invited to the scouting combine, but he deserved to be. He had 1,964 all-purpose yards this past season, a total that included a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against then-No. 9 Georgia that showed patience and the speed to close the deal against a SEC heavyweight.
Also, only two college players in the nation had three punt returns for at least 50 yards last season and Chancellor was one of them.
Chancellor showed some plenty of versatility as a receiver, especially this past season, and could line up outside or in the slot to add some depth on a roster.
He had a 53-catch season in ’13 with an average of 14.9 yards per catch. At 5-foot-8 1/2 and 188 pounds, Chancellor is undersized. But like a similarly sized wide receiver on this draft board in Wyoming's Robert Herron (5-foot-9, 193), Chancellor is a former running back who has been durable and decisive with the ball in his hands.
Chancellor ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the school’s pro day earlier this month, a workout the Broncos attended. His 41-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10 feet, 1 inch would have been among the best at the combine.
Chancellor’s Indy snub was one of those annual misses made by the committee of personnel executives who make the selections, but hey can’t invite everybody who's worthy. Often the desire to put a player who has been injured through the extensive medical exam will tip the scales in some of the selections.
Last year, 29 players who were not invited to the combine were selected in the seven-round draft -- or 11.4 percent of selections -- so a guy who was a conference special teams player of the year isn't exactly a sleeper to the guys who evaluate for a living.
As a result Chancellor is not an under-the-radar player for special-teams units with a need -- he's squarely on it.
5dEric D. Williams