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Greg Dulcich Broncos

Greg Dulcich Era Has Begun For Broncos

  • Justin Melo
  • October 18, 2022
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The Denver Broncos suffered another heartbreaking overtime defeat in primetime on Thursday. The Los Angeles Chargers claimed a crucial divisional victory by outlasting Denver to the tune of 19-16. It wasn’t all bad for the Broncos, however. Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich recorded two receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown. Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson found Dulcich streaking down the right sideline for an explosive 39-yard score.

Dulcich made his NFL debut on Thursday. Dulcich was activated off IR ahead of Monday Night Football after a hamstring injury cost him the first five games of the regular season. Dulcich made an immediate impact. His field-stretching abilities are an asset to Denver’s offense.

The Broncos showed zero hesitation to lean on Dulcich heavily. Dulcich was on the field for 41 offensive snaps, which accounted for 71% of Denver’s total offensive plays. He was on the receiving end of three total targets. Denver’s second and third-string tight ends (Andrew Beck and Eric Tomlinson) played 16 snaps apiece, which equals less than half of Dulcich’s output. 

Dulcich has immediately stepped into the starting role at tight end. It’s worth acknowledging Eric Saubert was limited to just one offensive snap due to injury, but Dulcich should continue out-snapping (and outplaying) him throughout future showings. Fellow tight end Albert Okwuegbunam was a healthy scratch—it appears Dulcich has already leapfrogged Okwuegbunam on Denver’s depth chart.

The No. 80 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Dulcich’s return to the lineup coincided with a curious shift in offensive approach and personnel. He played 95% of snaps in 11 personnel and 0% of snaps in 12 or 21 personnel, via Pro Football Focus. The Broncos ran 11 personnel on 73% of their first-half offensive snaps. That number was approximately 57% prior to Thursday. 

It seems that Dulcich’s return to the lineup has made Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett increasingly confident in utilizing 11 personnel looks with more frequency. Hackett worked under Matt LaFleur in Green Bay and they all tie directly back to Sean McVay, whose Rams often lead the league in 11 personnel usage. How Dulcich continues impacting Denver’s offensive philosophy is worth monitoring going forward. 

The sample size was obviously small, but Dulcich averaged an explosive 22.0 yards per reception against the Chargers. A four-year standout performer at UCLA, Dulcich averaged 17.6 yards per reception in 24 career games for the Bruins. He is an excellent athlete with difference-making straight-line speed and agility. He’ll continue stretching the seam and recording big-time plays for the Broncos’ offense.

Dulcich first turned heads at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. Dulcich posted elite numbers among his position group that included a 4.69 in the 40-yard dash and a 122-inch broad jump. That athletic ability was evident throughout Dulcich’s debut showing on Thursday.

Dulcich first started impressing throughout organized team activities (OTAs) where he quickly gained reps with the first-team offense. Dulcich is a big-bodied pass-catching option that Wilson will continue appreciating in the red zone and in obvious passing situations—his 82-inch wingspan will continue endearing itself to Wilson.

Denver’s 32nd-ranked (15.2 points per contest) offense has struggled to locate consistency. They managed to flash signs of potential improvement at times against the Chargers. Dulcich should be a part of the solution.

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Justin Melo